Mansfield University honors graduates at 157th Commencement on Saturday

Three students in commencement regalia cold diplomas and smile
344 graduates were honored during Mansfield University’s 157th commencement on Saturday, May 14.

MANSFIELD, Pa. – Mansfield University honored graduates from Fall 2021 and Spring and Summer 2022 at its 157th Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 14 at Karl Van Norman Field. 

344 graduates were honored for earning either an associates, bachelors, or masters degree. Among the graduating class were 104 first-generation college students and 75 non-traditional students. Graduates came from nine states (Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee) and three countries (United States, China, and Israel).

Dr. Bashar Hanna, interim president of Mansfield University, provided the welcome for the ceremony. “Today is only possible because of your hard work, dedication, and commitment to fulfilling a dream each of you had,” said Dr. Hanna. “But your journey is not alone. Your loved ones sitting near you also sacrificed many things to make today happen.” 

“Regardless of the challenge, regardless of the obstacle, Mounties never cower. They persevere and continue moving forward. Because the world needs you.” 

Brendan Cregan, president of the Mansfield University Alumni Association urged the graduating class to be engaged with the university and fellow alumni and to not let the memories of Mansfield fade away. He also reminded graduates that “once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer.” 

The student body was represented by Student Government Association President Geneva “GG” Murray who told her classmates that life is like a movie. “Is everyone’s movie going to be perfect? NO. That is what makes us human. However, we have the tools, knowledge, and goal-driven mindsets to learn from our mistakes, make changes, and alter our stories for the next time. You do not have to depend on anyone or anything to deem your life successful. You are the Writer. If you want to be successful, say you are successful. Write it in your script and direct your actions surrounding it.” 

“I’m incredibly grateful you chose Mansfield and I know they have prepared you for the next chapter you are about to embark on,” said Pennsylvania State Representative Clint Owlett in his commencement address to the graduates. “Here at Mansfield University, you have built a foundation. In fact, you likely have a stronger foundation than those who have gone before you. The challenges that you have faced during COVID have added extra pillars to support the career you’re about to build.” 

During the ceremony, Dr. Hanna recognized senior Shae Marx, who was the Mansfield University nominee for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Ali-Zaidi Award for Academic Excellence. The Ali-Zaidi Award is conferred upon a graduating senior from one of the State System universities each year. Finalists for the award are recommended to the Board of Governors by the university’s president at the conclusion of a campus application. 

Marx is a first-generation college graduate from Stroudsburg, Pa. who earned a bachelor of science in biology with a concentration in cell and molecular biology and a minor in Spanish. At Mansfield, Marx held a variety of leadership positions, earned competitive research opportunities and funding, and was a member of the softball program. 

Dr. Hanna also presented the 2022 Mansfield University Outstanding Senior Award to Sarah Hart. Nominees for the Outstanding Senior Award are selected for providing exemplary leadership and service to Mansfield University and the surrounding region, while excelling academically.  

A native of Wellsboro, Pa., Hart graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with minors in professional writing and history. She served as the student trustee on the Council of Trustees, treasurer of SGA, president of the Entrepreneurial Club, and secretary of the Flashlight. Hart was a member of the MU team that won the 2021 PASSHE Start-Up Challenge and the team that finished third in the nation in the Community Bank Study competition. 

Nominees for the Outstanding Senior Award included: Claire Ames (Communication and Sports Information), Aaron Butters (Applied Mathematics), Sarah Craig (Early Childhood/Elementary and Special Education), Hannah Gilliland (Education), Elizabeth Long (Graphic Design), Shaelyn Marx (Biology), Jessica Nistad (Music Education and Vocal Performance), Lacey O’Donnell (Social Work), Zena Parkhurst (English), Natalie Piganelli (Psychology), Courtney Russell (Secondary Education). 

The Mountaineer Brass Band, conducted by Dr. Nathan Rinnert, provided musical accompaniment for the event. 

Dr. Brad Lint was grand marshal and herald, Drs. Atika Benaddi and Linda Kennedy were faculty marshals, and Dusty Zeyn and Holly Jackson were baccalaureate marshals. Commencement coordinator was Judi Brayer. 

A replay of the Commencement live stream can be viewed here.