Honoring Student Excellence: The Pre-Commencement Awards Ceremony


On the Eve of the Commencement Ceremony, SLU-Madrid Director and Academic Dean Dr. Paul Vita holds a reception for students, faculty and staff to honor outstanding achievement.

"The students recognized here today," Vita explained to the audience at this year's event, "are the ones that make our teaching a pleasure and a challenge. They make teaching a pleasure because they are the ones who have excelled, who have submitted the best essays in their class, who have received perfect scores on exams, who have shared our zeal for our subject and passion for research."

The ceremony opened by recognizing the students who earned distinction for their cumulative GPA:

cum laude (3.5 or higher)

    • Elena Carey
    • Elene Gasviani
    • Yeonhee Jenny Kang
    • Melissa Parmelee

magna cum laude (3.7 or higher)

    • Maha Alali
    • Mary Kate Fitzpatrick
    • Leila Seffar

summa cum laude (3.9 or higher)

    • Grant Thomas
    • Mackenzie Rodgers

Dr. Vita also honored Yeonhee Jenny Kang and Leila Seffar for completing the rigorous requirements of the University-wide Honors Program.

The Manresa Award for Academic Writing in English went to Laura Moyneur, for her essay, "Job"; the Loyola Award for Creative Writing in English, to Mary Kate Fitzpatrick for her work, "Birthday Eulogy"; and the Concurso de Escritura Creativa Ignacio de Loyola, to Austin Miller, for his work, "Phobos."

Departmental awards included the Communication Program's recognition of its "top graduate"—this year, Mackenzie Rodgers as well as the "Citizen of the Department and Upholder of COMM*Nation Values," Daniel Zirkelbach. International Relations recognized Mary Kate Fitzpatrick and Melissa Parmelee for "Academic Excellence," as well as Christian Roberts for "Contributions to the Life of the Program" and Nouf Alshaikh and Rose Cornwell for "Notable Determination in Achieving Goals." The "Business Excellence Award" went to Ramzi Barakat and Leila Seffar and the "Outstanding Scholarly Achievement in Psychology" was awarded to Maha Alali. The Spanish Department awarded the "Premio a la Excelencia Académica en Español" to Grant Thomas and the "Premio a la Contribución al departamento de Español" to Anna Castellanos. Rola El-Bijou was honored with the "Academic Excellence Award in Science and Engineering."

Dr. Vita also announced that four students were eligible for induction into the Sigma Iota Rho International Studies Honor Society: Anna Castellanos, Susana Fernandez, Mary Kate Fitzpatrick, and Izabel Trizlova.

Paula Otero Santos was invited to join the Alpha Sigma Nu National Honor Society, one of the highest honors given on a Jesuit campus for the demonstration of a commitment to the ideals of Jesuit education.

Mikel Green was among the eighteen students across the two campuses who received this year's "Spirit of the Billiken" Award in recognition of excellence in academics, leadership, community service, commitment to the University, and dedication to living the mission after graduation.

In addition to these academic and leadership awards, students, faculty and staff were also honored for outstanding contributions to Student Life and the Department of Admissions:

Department of Student Life

Servant Leadership Award: Christian Roberts
Exemplary Achievement Award: Paula Otero
Faculty Commitment to Experiential Learning: María José Morell
Faculty Commitment to Service Learning: Elvira Pértega
Outstanding Faculty Advisor: Marta Moreno
New Student-Led Organization Award: Carmela Asinas, Dance Club Leader
Outstanding Organization Award: Daniel Zirkelbach, Model United Nations Club Leader
Community Service Award: Marta Blázquez, Bocatalk Club Leader
New Student Leader Award: Matthew Bruton
Social Justice Award: Mackenzie Rodgers
Best Sportsman: Nicolás Bermúdez de Castro
Best Sportswoman: Daria Shremeteva
Most Hardworking Sportsman: Alexander Antic

Office of Admissions

Student Service Award: Yeonhee Jenny Kang and Leila Seffar
Student MVP: Christian Roberts

The Ceremony closed as SLU-Madrid's SGA President Christian Roberts took the stage and swore in future SGA Executive officers:

Marta Blázquez, President
Alec Tardy, Vice-President
Angelo Pillas, Communications Officer
Nik Legaspi, Events Manager
Thomas Gargano, Treasurer

Congratulations to all winners and nominees—and to all graduates and their families!

May 16, 2017
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