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SMC commencement to honor women of service

| Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Saint Mary’s 168th commencement ceremony will take place on Le Mans Green in front of the iconic Le Mans Hall on Saturday, May 16, to celebrate the graduation of approximately 350 students who constitute the class of 2015. This year’s graduates herald from 30 states, one United States territory and five countries besides the United States — including Canada, China, Mexico, Rwanda and Singapore.

At the ceremony, Sr. Rosemary Connelly, will deliver the commencement speech. Connelly and Terri Kosik will receive honorary degrees from the College. The 2015 valedictorian, music major Sarah Miller, will also address her graduating class.

According to a College press release, president Carol Ann Mooney said both recipients of the honorary degrees are women who have devoted over 40 years of service to their respective ministries, offering education and support to children and adults.

“At Saint Mary’s we challenge our students to promote human dignity throughout their lives,” Mooney said. “We are delighted to honor these exceptional women for dedicating their lives to some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Connelly, who is a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, was named administrator of Misericordia Home in Chicago in 1969 and is now executive director, as stated in the press release. Misericordia Home provides programs, service and residential care to more than 600 children and adults with developmental and physical disabilities.

The organization’s mission is to ensure that each person is encouraged to achieve his or her greatest potential through educational, spiritual, vocational or recreational outlets. According to the press release, the College wishes to recognize Connelly for playing an integral role in Misericordia Home’s development into a loving, challenging and dignified environment to its residents.

Connelly has received numerous awards and honors throughout the years, including seven honorary doctorate degrees from Notre Dame, Loyola University, DePaul University, Lewis University, Marquette University, Dominican University and Lewis University.

Kosik also provides dedicated service to a ministry ensuring educational opportunities to children at both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s — the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC).

The ECDC program serves children ages two through kindergarten during the school year and children through age 10 in their summer day camp program, according to the press release.

During her 41 years with the ECDC, Kosik dedicated herself to promoting quality programs for children, their parents and teachers throughout Indiana. Kosik said the ECDC fits perfectly within the Saint Mary’s mission, particularly in terms of religious sensibility and social responsibility.

“[At the ECDC,] we provide unconditional love and acceptance. Our classrooms are positive and full of joyful interactions and support,” Kosik said. “Ages 0-5 are the formative years in brain development, social/emotional development and cognitive skills. So it is important for children of all races, ethnicities and faiths to to have high-quality experiences with dedicated and skilled professionals. And that’s what we deliver at the ECDC and have been doing for 40-plus years.”

Kosik also teaches a course at Saint Mary’s each fall semester that pertains to the early childhood minor, as well as, graduate and undergraduate courses at other institutions.

“What I love most about my job is supporting the development and learning of young children, but almost equally, I love supporting the learning and development of pre-service teachers as they cherish young children and learn the important non-cognitive skills in children’s lives — confidence, love of learning, enthusiasm, empathy,” she said.

Kosik said she especially enjoys the opportunity to provide future educators with hands on experience.

“We offer for all the Saint Mary’s students from various majors … the real-life experience that takes what they are reading and hearing from their faculty members in class,” Kosik said. “They have a chance to come into the environment and observe children learning and communicating.”

Kosik said she was overjoyed upon learning she would receive an honorary degree from the College this May.

“I must say that I was utterly surprised and speechless, and so honored that I would be considered yet alone selected for such a prestigious award from Saint Mary’s, where I’ve spent 41 years on the campus,” Kosik said. “I started at [age] 21 when the ECDC was tiny, and I had these wonderful people mentoring, coaching and supporting me. Carol Ann Mooney’s children came to ECDC and so did my children and then my granddaughter.

Senior Audrey Kiefer said she is all the more excited for the commencement ceremony now that these two women will be honored.

“As seniors, we’re all readying to go out and use all that Saint Mary’s had taught us in order to change the world,” Kiefer said. “Here are two prime examples of women who have dedicated their lives to servicing others and providing aid where its needed.

“I couldn’t think of two better people to be honored at our commencement, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

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About Kelly Konya

Kelly Konya is an English major bred on Catcher in the Rye and Roman cornettos.

Contact Kelly