Families and friends gathered at the Shannon Center on the campus of Saint Xavier University on Sunday, May 20 to celebrate the 232 graduates of the Mother McAuley Class of 2018 during the school’s 62nd commencement ceremony.
The Class of 2018 boasts many notable accomplishments, including a 100% college acceptance rate, a National Merit Scholarship Award winner (Catherine Rogers), two National Merit Commended Scholars (Hayley Gutrich and Grace Trippiedi), two recipients of the Chick Evans Scholarship (Tara O’Malley and Hayley Stepak), three A. Franklin Pilchard scholars (Alana Cox, Cecelia Crane and Maura Gribble), 15 college athletic commitments and 34 Illinois State Scholars. One of the most impressive facts is the amount of merit-based scholarships awarded to the Class of 2018, which totals more than $41 million.
The ceremony began with a prayer and remarks by Principal Eileen Boyce O’Reilly ’03, followed by the valedictorian’s speech, remarks by President Mary Acker Klingenberger ’75, and the conferring of diplomas. The salutatorian then introduced the alumnae speaker. Remarks by the faculty speaker and student speaker rounded out the event. In keeping with a tradition dating back to 1846, graduates donned floor-length white dresses, complemented by long white gloves and the carrying of red roses.
Valedictorian Catherine Rogers (Beverly) completed her senior year with a cumulative grade point average (G.P.A.) of 4.49 and leaves the school with many accomplishments to her name. During junior year, Catherine earned a perfect score of 36 on her ACT, and earlier this month she was named a National Merit Scholarship winner. She also is an Illinois State Scholar. Next year, she will attend the University of Illinois, where she intends to study engineering. During her remarks to her classmates and guests, Catherine reflected on the paths and success that have prepared them for life beyond McAuley.
“Our job now is to take what we’ve learned and use this to better the world, in whatever way we can,” said Catherine. “It may be as simple as always remembering that people want to be good and do good, or as huge as discovering a cure for a deadly disease. The ripple effect of doing small things is extraordinary, and can lead us to the realization of something much bigger. So focus on doing good, and who knows, one day it may become something more. Continue learning about yourself, about the world, and about your passions. We have been prepared to succeed as we shape our own future. Because of our dedication and passion, McAuley girls will not only achieve; we will dominate.”
This marked the fifth year that Mother McAuley invited an alumna to address the graduates during commencement. The class salutatorian has the honor of introducing the alumnae speaker. With a G.P.A. of 4.47, senior Grace Trippiedi (Orland Park) earned this distinction for the Class of 2018. Grace was named a National Merit Commended Scholar and an Illinois State Scholar. She will attend Miami University of Ohio in the fall, where she plans to major in engineering.
This year’s alumnae speaker, Dr. Colleen Fitzgerald ‘88, is the medical director of clinical research at Loyola University Medical Center. As a practicing physician and an associate professor, she specializes in the departments of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, Urology, and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She also serves as vice-president/president elect for the International Pelvic Pain Society and is extensively involved with The Women’s Health Foundation.
“’Labore improbus omnia vincit.’ For those of you who study Latin you know that means ‘hard work conquers all,’ said Dr. Fitzgerald. “Any person who has achieved success in life will tell you that the key is an unwavering perseverance in the pursuit of your goal. You need to dream big. Practicality in life is important, but never settle below your aspirations because someone told you ‘it’ll take too long’ or ‘that’s not practical’ or ‘are you sure you want to do that?’ Do not get to a point in your life where you are giving up your dreams in order to please someone else. Reach for what you want, and never stop chasing it until you get there.”
Maryrose Sheridan (Beverly) was elected by her classmates as student speaker. Maryrose served as a Kairos leader, Advisory Board leader, Student Council Spirit Ambassador, Varsity Club leader, National Honor Society member, Peer Minister. She also wore the “M” costume at school athletic games this past year. In her remarks to her classmates, Maryrose likened their McAuley experience to that of an adventurous road trip.
“Despite not knowing what direction our roads are taking us after today, I know we will get where we need to be. Take a second to look in your rear view mirror and recall where you were freshman year when you drove down 99th street on that first day. But make sure you look forward. Do not fear the bumps in the road ahead because you’ll be that much closer to your destination. Just as the roads we will choose will take us farther away from where we are now, those same roads will always lead us back to McAuley. This school has prepared us to handle the traffic, and the sharp turns and that’s what we must never forget.”
Dean of Upperclasswomen, Mrs. Meg Griffin Gardner ’99 was selected as the faculty speaker, and shared these words of wisdom with the graduates:
“It would be unrealistic to say that these four years have always been easy. You have undoubtedly faced adversity, have experienced disappointments, and have confronted obstacles at various points along the way. But class of 2018, let me be clear about something, it is in these very hardships where you have found your greatest strength. Often it is the most difficult times in our lives that reveal our true character and our true selves. It is when you weren’t sure if you could make it through one more math class, that you persevered. It is when you lost someone close to you, that you were supported. It is when you saw more obstacles than you did opportunities that you found the resilience to power through.”
To conclude the ceremony, senior members of the McAuley Advanced Chorus sang, “Home” in tribute to their class, followed by the Suscipe, the school tribute to a written work of Catherine McAuley.