By Kary Feick

After four years of hard work, dedication, and absolute persistence, the 2011 graduating class can finally put the textbooks down and the pencils aside. More than 500 students attended the 64th commencement ceremony at Compuware Arena in Plymouth.

The ceremony honored students graduating from social sciences, education, business, nursing, humanities, science, and math. A large number of students graduated with honors (3.5-3.699 GPA,) high honors (3.7-3.899 GPA,) and highest honors (3.9-4.0 GPA.)

Before moving on into the “real world,” students took a moment to look back on their journey at Madonna University, including the memories that helped them reach the finish line.

“I’ve learned to not judge a book by its cover,” said Kyle Lawrey, graduate of the Business Administration program at Madonna University. “When I first decided on playing golf at Madonna, I was not completely sold on being at a small school but then I got here and that changed.”

Lawrey focused on pre-law during his time at Madonna. In August he will attend the University of Dayton School of Law for his Juris Doctor.

At Madonna University, it is no surprise to find a student blessed with both a wonderful professor and a gifted mentor.

“My favorite professor at Madonna University was professor Conrad, whom I had for Business Law and Macroeconomics. He was a great teacher and I learned a lot from him,” said Lawrey.

“Beyond that, he took me under his wing and helped rekindle my interest in law. He got me back on the path to law school that I had given up on previously. I owe a lot of thanks to him for putting me on the path that I am on.”

Lawrey is certainly not the only student at Madonna to find a professor encouraging students to reach their goals by guiding them to helpful resources.

“My favorite professor at Madonna was Heather El-Khoury. She was very supportive to me during my fieldwork,” said Nicole Carter, graduate of the Social Work program at Madonna.

Carter feels very fortunate to already have a job, right out of college.

“I am working where my field placement was - Lutheran Social Services. My field professor, Heather El-Khoury, placed me at Lutheran at the beginning of my senior year. I feel that Madonna helped prepare me throughout my program with the support and classes I needed to be successful at my new employer.”

Carter took advantage of the social aspect at Madonna University, and even became secretary of SWAMU, the Social Work Association at Madonna University.

“Our club participated in a variety of events to help at risk families in the community,” expressed Carter. “We held a fundraiser raising supplies for families in the winter such as coats, hats, and mittens.”

Beyond classroom instruction, students also reflected on what they learned throughout their time at Madonna.

“Being in the social work program helped me to learn how to manage my time better and prioritize what needs to be done first,” said Carter.

Carter believes effectively prioritizing your time is vital to your success at any university.

“Don't feel stuck in what you came to school for. I started out at Wayne State, and when I figured out what I wanted to major in, I transferred,” said Emily Zaleski, graduate of the Sign Language Studies program, with a focus on interpreting.

Zaleski feels Madonna taught her a lot, and even caused her to consider her values.

“I've learned that there are many people who have very different ideas than me, and it is often challenging not to let them get to you. I think it is important to hold true to my own values and ideals”

Zaleski also feels students should try to get involved with the university by joining clubs and attending events. She says it is a great way to make friends and create a more social college experience.

Zaleski recently completed a team music video project for her SLS 4650 class. Dan McDougall paired four students with the Broadcast and Cinema Arts department to produce the sign language music. The group translated King of Anything, by Sara Bareilles, from English to American Sign Language, which is far from easy.

To see the video, and two other ASL music videos, visit:

“Learning a second language is an incredibly rewarding experience, and I think everyone should do it,” said Zaleski.

The mission of Madonna University, a Catholic and Franciscan institution, is to instill in its students Christian humanistic values, intellectual inquiry, a respect for diversity, and a commitment to serving others through a liberal arts education integrated with career preparation, based on the truths and principles recognized within a Catholic tradition,” Madonna University mission statement 1937-present.

As a graduate, Zaleski now finds ideas she wishes she knew when she began her journey at Madonna.

“Don't be afraid of diversity. Make friends who are different than you. You might be surprised at how much you can learn from people of other religions, cultures, and sexual orientations,” expressed Zaleski. “Don't judge people because they have different ideas.”



More than 500 attend 64th grad ceremony