Nearly 450 Receive Degrees at Commencement

NEWBURGH – Overcast skies didn’t disrupt the bright, cheerful atmosphere at Mount Saint Mary College’s 61st annual Commencement Ceremony, which recognized nearly 450 graduates on Saturday, May 18.

The Mount awarded more than 110 master’s degrees and more than 330 bachelor’s degrees on Saturday. The graduating students hailed from 10 states: Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia.

For the second year in a row, longtime Psychology Professor Paul Schwartz led the procession of graduates to the ceremony on the Dominican Center Field. Schwartz is only the third person in 65 years of Mount history to bear the college’s ceremonial mace at Commencement, following in the footsteps of seminal Mount English professors James Finn Cotter and James McEnery.

Evan Merkhofer, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and associate professor of Biology, served as Master of Ceremonies. The event was presided over by Michael Horodyski, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the college.

Honorary degree recipient and Commencement speaker Daniel J. Maughan ’01, MSN ’11, MBA ’04, FNP-c, President and Chief Executive Officer of Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall (MSLC). Photo: Lee Ferris
Honorary degree recipient and Commencement speaker Daniel J. Maughan ’01, MSN ’11, MBA ’04, FNP-c, President and Chief Executive Officer of Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall (MSLC). Photo: Lee Ferris

The invocation was given by Sr. Catherine McDonnell, OP, ’69, Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Hope. Rosemarie Budhwa, a 2020 alumna and Content Specialist with the college’s Marketing and Communications Department, kicked off the ceremony by singing “God Bless America.”

Fr. Gregoire Fluet, Interim President of the Mount, told the graduates that Commencement shouldn’t be viewed as the end of their undergraduate work, but instead as a new beginning full of opportunities.

“God has a plan for you; He has brought you to this moment of accomplishment for a reason, for a purpose,” said Fr. Fluet. “You are now called to burst upon the world with the tools that will allow you to make a real difference, a real change.”

He added, “I have seen tremendous goodness in this class, and in all the students of Mount Saint Mary College…This is the true beginning! This is a moment of grace. God bless you, God bless your wonderful parents, and families and friends who have precisely made a difference in your lives. God bless our faculty and staff. God now says to you that it is time, time to go out, and yes, change the world!”

The graduating students then heard from honorary degree recipient and Commencement speaker Daniel J. Maughan ’01, MSN ’11, MBA ’04, FNP-c, President and Chief Executive Officer of Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall (MSLC).

Maughan is known for providing visionary leadership, helping to steer healthcare in the Hudson Valley through transformative shifts over the last decade.

A three-time alumnus of Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y., Maughan earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2001, followed by an MBA in 2004, and culminating in a Master of Science degree in the Family Nurse Practitioner program in 2011.

In 2012, Maughan assumed the role of Director of Emergency and Respiratory Services at MSLC. Subsequently, he ascended through various positions, including Assistant Vice President, Vice President of Patient Operations and Transformation, and Chief Operating Officer, before becoming President of the Hospital in January 2021. His remarkable trajectory continued with his appointment to the position of President and CEO on January 1, 2022.

At the ceremony, Maughan praised the graduates for their ability to overcome unforeseen obstacles while remaining upbeat and focused on their studies.

“Your hard work, dedication, and perseverance have led you to this moment,” he said. “For some of you, this is your first real graduation. You are the first four-year class to graduate after COVID disrupted your final semester of high school and all the celebrations that come with…Today, I hope you fully enjoy the pomp and circumstance of your graduation ceremony. I hope you feel an immense pride in this accomplishment, because I know everyone on this stage and in this audience are incredibly proud of you.”

Maughan also discussed five lessons he learned on his path to success which he wished to pass on to the new Mount graduates.

Keep learning: “Critical thinking isn’t just a catchphrase or some fad; it is necessary for connecting some important real-life dots.”

Set meaningful and well-planned goals: “Look, listen, and feel for the fire that comes when your heart and mind connect…That’s a fire that will put you on the right path, and your goals will become your reality.”

Don’t give up: “Combining resilience with the willingness to seek and accept help will ensure you navigate life’s challenges successfully.”

Be thankful: “Gratitude…improves who we are and who we encounter the more we do it, so make it a regular routine.”

Take care of yourself: “If you don’t practice good self-care, I promise, you cannot effectively care for others.”

Richard Vilcean of Nanuet, N.Y., Senior Class President, congratulated the Class of 2024 for not only enduring the hardships of COVID-19, but for also thriving throughout the pandemic.

“Overcoming the pandemic was no easy feat,” he said. “There’s something special to be said about this class – about our pure grit, persistence, and determination. To come from drive-by graduations, canceled proms, and hybrid classes and make it to this very stage is a testament of the strength we all possess.”

Vilcean added, “I implore you all to chase your dreams with your fullest effort…Leave your mark on the world! Touch the hearts of everyone you meet, make your families proud, and stay true to yourselves.”

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