Graduating Class Includes Students with Interesting Stories to Share

by Public Relations | May 08, 2018

May 8, 2018

Of the more than 330 graduates who will receive degrees at the 172nd annual spring commencement of Saint Vincent College on Saturday, May 12, many have interesting stories to share about the goals they set for themselves and the challenges they overcame to reach graduation day.

Here are seven of them:

Noah S. Keys: Planning to combine a career in law and ministry

Noah S. Keys of Latrobe, a politics and history double major, has accepted a full scholarship to Duquesne Law School where he will begin studies in the fall. Keys sees his career in law as a ministry and wants to pursue a master’s degree in divinity as well. He was awarded the Outstanding Senior Award in Politics, was a George Washington Fellow and was the third-place winner of the Douglas B. Rogers Conditions of a Free Society Essay Contest hosted by the Center for Political and Economic Thought at Saint Vincent and was named a Saint Vincent Law Scholar. Other campus activities include the College Honors Program, Fred Rogers Scholars, Aurelius Scholars (president), Alpha Lambda Delta honor society, Phi Alpha Theta national history honor society and Alpha Gamma Beta, national politics honor society. After he completes his law degree, he plans to open a private law practice in the area.

Marcia A. Poliak Croce: Mid-life challenges led to career in graphic design

At the age of 58, Marcia A. Poliak Croce of Blairsville found herself on her own after a 30-year marriage and decided to join the Air Force and become a medical laboratory specialist serving in San Antonio, Texas; Tacoma, Washington; and Kunsan, Korea. Later, she pursued the “extreme challenge” of enrolling at Saint Vincent College among 18-to 22-year-olds who she said “were great and very respectful.” After she adapted to the routine of classes, homework and studying, she had to balance full-time studies with a part-time job and a challenging domestic and financial life. She credits wonderful friends and the great faculty of Saint Vincent for helping her through hard times. “I am very blessed and grateful to have had such a great support system in such a hard time of my life,” she said. A graphic design major with a minor in computer science, she plans to seek a position in the graphic design field or open her own graphic design business while continuing as a personal trainer and aerobics instructor.

Olivia F. London: Switch of majors led to digital marketing at Eat'n Park

Olivia F. London of Pittsburgh is a communication major with minors in marketing and graphic design. After graduation, she will be joining the marketing department at Eat’n Park Hospitality Group as a digital marketing assistant for a variety of restaurant brands including Eat’n Park Restaurants, Hello Bistro and The Porch. “One thing that challenged me as a freshman was discovering my career path,” she recalled. “I enrolled as a marketing major but struggled to enjoy my business classes. Although I enjoyed marketing, I realized that I enjoyed the creative aspect of marketing the most so I chose to change my major during my sophomore year to communication with minors in marketing and graphic design. I am extremely happy with the career that I have decided to pursue.”

Julia V. Lundy: Choosing math prepared her to join PNC in management development

Julia V. Lundy of Verona, who started at Saint Vincent when she was only 15 after graduating early from Oakland Catholic High School in 2014, is now graduating with a double major in economics and mathematics and a minor in Spanish. She interned last summer with PNC and will be joining the corporation after graduation as an incoming analytics and portfolio management development associate. She changed her major not once but twice and took some summer classes to complete the requirements for her two majors and minor on time. The recipient of the Award for Excellence in the Study of Economics, she was also honored with membership in Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Alpha Chi Honor Society, Pi Mu Epsilon Honor Society and Who’s Who among Students in American Colleges and Universities. She enjoyed work-study service as an economics tutor, library student assistant and Center for Political and Economic Thought student assistant. “Dr. Daniele Arcara and the rest of the mathematics department helped me to realize that I wanted to study math and how exciting and fun it can truly be. Now I will be doing mathematical work for a financial services company,” she commented.

Nicole (Sierra) Wilson: Accepted to prestigious program in strategic communication

Nicole (Sierra) Wilson of Pittsburgh is a communication major who plans to attend American University in Washington, D.C., to obtain her master’s degree in a prestigious program in strategic communication, concentrating on public relations and crisis management. “I decided to get my master’s degree because I wanted to be more skilled in those job areas and I think that it will set me apart from my competitors as well,” she commented. “When I go into the workforce, I want to be as knowledgeable as possible and to do my job 110 percent. Grad school will give me the opportunity to do more internships and work more one-on-one with other professionals while getting a higher education. I’m definitely happy about the lessons I’ve learned, the people I’ve met and the skills I’ve developed while attending Saint Vincent College over the past four years.”

Maeve Hasselman: Overcame tragedy and plans to be a special education teacher

Maeve Hasselman of Oakmont admits that she personally struggled when her little sister was hit by a train and killed while jogging wearing headphones on a train track in October 2016. “I had never experienced such a profound loss or such a traumatic event,” she admitted, “and it definitely took a toll on me. The entire college, especially my professors that semester, were so understanding during that difficult time in my life. The support I received helped me finish the semester and continue on the path I had always been passionate about – being a teacher. The friendships and connections I have met at Saint Vincent will be ones that last a lifetime. I truly have found a family with them.” Hasselman will graduate with a major in early childhood education with a minor in disabilities studies. She has been accepted to Vanderbilt University in Nashville where she will pursue a master’s degree in early childhood special education and plans to be a special education teacher. “I want to use the education I received at Saint Vincent to help make the world a better place for students with special needs,” she concluded.

Nicole L. Reitz: Pursuing a Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience after study abroad

Nicole L. Reitz of Latrobe is a psychology major who was challenged to complete her senior research thesis and study abroad while completing her degree studies in time to graduate with her class. “One of my main goals while completing my undergraduate education was to study abroad at some point,” she commented. “I had begun arranging my schedule from the very first semester to ensure that I would be able to fit a semester abroad into my four years here. Things got a little tricky when I began my capstone project. The semester I decided to study in England overlapped with the two semesters I needed to be completing my thesis. I was determined to make it work because both going abroad and completing my thesis were major goals of mine. I ended up taking the first semester of my thesis study earlier than my peers as an independent study, taking a semester off to go abroad, and coming back to complete work the next semester. Having to begin so early, maintain interest and continuously work on the project was extremely difficult, but it was well worth it in the end. With that being said, my time abroad was the best four months of my life, but it was also quite the obstacle. I was away from friends, family, academic support and my normal college life for an entire semester. Having to adjust to an entirely new educational system in a foreign country, just to turn around in a couple months and revert back, was not as fun and easy as I’m sure it looked on social media. My thesis and my time abroad were both huge obstacles in my path to graduation. There is no denying the complexity that both brought to my life, and if I had the chance to go back in time and organize each a little better, I most definitely would. I would not, however, go back in time and simply not do them. Obstacles or not, they were also some of the best learning experiences (academic and in life) that I’ve had while at Saint Vincent College.” She received the Psi Chi Regional Research Award at the annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association in March and the department plans to submit her thesis for publication. She will soon be moving to Binghamton, New York, to begin studies toward a Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. She will serve as a research and teaching assistant, take additional courses in her specialty and complete research in her field.

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