Graduates carry the flags as procession begins
5.05.2018
By Roanoke College News

Roanoke College Graduates 449

Roanoke College awarded degrees to 449 graduates Saturday during the College's Commencement ceremony, held on the John Turbyfill Quad. See all the pictures and video

"I predict that never in your life will you grow as much as an individual yet feel so much a part of a community as you did here," said commencement speaker Dr. Kenneth P. Ruscio, president of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, a consortium of 15 traditional independent liberal arts colleges in Virginia.

"You have learned that your personal well-being is inevitably intertwined with the condition of those around you," Ruscio said. "It is simply better to live in places where people care about each other than in ones where they care only for themselves."

Hannah Bear of Mechanicsville, Maryland, is one of two valedictorians for the class of 2018. A Fulbright Summer Scholar and honors student, Bear will attend the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia to earn a master's in special education and elementary education after graduating with a communications major and a sociology minor.

In her message to fellow graduates, Bear referenced a quote from Sir Isaac Newton: "If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."

"There will be those who come up after us in life in all aspects of what we do," Bear told her classmates. "We, each of us, have the opportunity to become a giant upon whose shoulders another individual can stand. We can provide the foundation where others can grow, reach further than before and see farther than we have seen."

The other valedictorian is Megan O'Neill, a December graduate and native of Thurmont, Maryland, who is working as an employment specialist for the Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake in Baltimore, Maryland.

“You have learned that your personal well-being is inevitably intertwined with the condition of those around you. It is simply better to live in places where people care about each other than in ones where they care only for themselves.”

Dr. Ken Ruscio, commencement speaker

Maggie Fitzgerald, an honors student from Medway, Massachusetts, is the salutatorian of the class of 2018. Fitzgerald is a history major with a minor in secondary education and concentration in Africa and African Diaspora. She plans to attend the African History Ph.D. program at Indiana University with full funding.

The College presented two honorary degrees on Saturday.

Dr. Ruscio, who is also president emeritus and professor emeritus of Washington and Lee University, received an honorary Doctor of Letters. A distinguished scholar of democratic theory and public policy, Ruscio is the author of numerous articles, book reviews and essays, and authored the book "The Leadership Dilemma in Modern Democracy."

Brenda Hale, eight-term president of the Roanoke Branch of the NAACP, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Hale, an Army veteran, registered nurse and well-respected community leader, has been a tireless volunteer for decades.

Three Roanoke faculty members received the Simon Carson Wells Medal. Dean Richard Smith, President Maxey and Morris Cregger, chair of the Roanoke College Board of Trustees, presented the retiring faculty members with the medal named after Roanoke's longest serving faculty member. The honorees were:

  • Dr. Joseph Blaha, associate professor of music;
  • Dr. Galdino Pranzarone, professor of psychology; and
  • Dr. Robert Schultz, John P. Fishwick Professor of English.

Two Roanoke faculty members who received the Dean's Awards were honored on Saturday. Read more on them here

  • Dr. Adam Childers, associate professor of mathematics and statistics, received the Dean's Exemplary Teaching Award.
  • Dr. Chris Lassiter, associate professor of biology and director of undergraduate research, received the Dean's Exemplary Service Award.