Apr 18, 2022
Dmitriy Ivanov

Students Recognized for Academic Excellence at 38th Annual Honors Convocation

This year’s 38th Annual Honors Convocation recognized 85 Assumption students for academic excellence in their respective fields of study and received thought-provoking advice from an alumna who is currently a lawyer in Washington, D.C.

Students honored at the event received one of the Assumption University departmental awards, special awards, or St. Augustine scholarships. Christina Graziano, Esq. ’10, was the keynote speaker. Graziano graduated from Assumption with a B.A. in political science with a minor in philosophy then pursued a Juris Doctorate from Suffolk University Law School. She currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland and works in the Washington, D.C. area as a partner for the firm Ketterer, Browne, and Anderson. Her practice focuses on complex civil cases in state and federal courts. 

Graziano has extensive experience in pharmaceutical and medical device litigation, products liability, business torts, and intellectual property law. She also specializes in Title IX and sexual misconduct cases. In 2018, Mrs. Graziano was named to the National Trial Lawyers’ “Top 40 Under 40” List. In 2020, the Franchise Times awarded her the “Legal Eagle” for her excellence in litigation. She is a proud and passionate alumna of the University and currently serves on the President’s Council.

Graziano shared with students the advice she received at the beginning of her law career when she accepted a clerk position at a high-profile plaintiff’s firm in Boston who represented survivors of catastrophic injuries. One of her cases included defending the widow of an individual who lost his life in a roll-over accident. It was at this time that she was beginning to pay back student loan debt for law school.

“The dream was to make as much money as possible, as soon as possible, practicing whatever kind of law was going to get me there,” shared Graziano. 

During the trial, she was speaking to the lead attorney for the opposing side when he advised her not to pursue this kind of “do-gooder” law because “you will work like a dog and will not make any money.” He counseled her to come to the side of the defendant because she would make more money and pay off her student loans faster.  Graziano states that she was “nodding emphatically” at this point and it “had to be the plan” for her life as she listened to the defendant. But as she watched the lawyers from her firm playing hangman and tic-tac-toe with the widow’s two young children so that “she had a minute to breath,” Graziano realized that she had to stop asking herself not “what kind of lawyer I want to be, but what kind of person I want to be.” 

“This moment forced me to examine my own heart, rail against my own limited shell of understanding at 20-something years old and decide then who I wanted to be and what I would value,” reflected Graziano. She advised students to not accept the advice of the defense attorney when it is inevitably offered to them when they go out into the workforce.

Graziano also expressed the importance of a liberal arts education in shaping the soul of an individual to embark on their journey of “greatness.” The “liberal” in liberal arts means to be free. It “literally frees us from our baser instincts, our vices, our selfishness, and narrow-mindedness. This education liberates us, mind and soul, from the shackles of ignorance and apathy. It inspires us to reflect thoughtfully and compassionately, no matter the issue.”

She encouraged students not to be “Great”, with a capital ‘G’ like Mark Zuckerburg or Kylie Jenner (those who build monetary empires) or those who Netflix makes documentaries out of, but to be “great “with a lower case ‘g’. Small acts of greatness are what form the soul and shape your place in the world; it is what Graziano calls “magnanimity.” In her witty, yet relevant remarks, Graziano shared, “There’s no dramatic music and build up to the big moment. Magnanimity is achieved quietly, slowly, by cultivating generosity of spirit and an affinity for the life of the mind.”

Graziano challenged students by asking, “how do you want to make a great life?” She shared that a tool to help answer this question is by studying the great books and thinkers, as it “allows us to transcend the boundaries of place and time and to conceive of our larger human purpose. Studying the liberal arts is quite literally a study of the human soul, the fruits of which undoubtedly make us think deeper, empathize better, become greater.” 

The Washington, D.C.-based lawyer articulated the ways in which Assumption graduates are formed in their courses of study to be “inquisitive, ethical, engaged citizens, who think freely, critically, and thoughtfully.” The Catholic liberal education forms a foundation to showcase the common good and “awaken and sustain our intellectual curiosity.” With this curiosity in seeking truth, students are also taught humility and grace, according to Graziano. These ideas are endured because they have withstood the test of time.

Graziano concluded her remarks by imparting wisdom upon those being honored at the convocation, “Decide who you are, who you want to be, and endeavor to remain faithful to your values in the face of life’s myriad obstacles and distractions. Allow the tenets of your Assumption education to serve as an animating force behind all the great things that you pursue in this life…You students are stewards of a rich intellectual tradition, one that long predates you and with the grace of God will endure long after the ink is dry on your diplomas.”

Academic Major Awards

Frederick Anim-Amofa, Cybersecurity
Margaret Buckley, Communication and Media
Jennifer Call, Environmental Science
Jennifer Call, Global Studies
Magalin Carroll, International Business
Johnna Charlton, Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies
Erin Considine, Elementary Education
Mikayla Debois, Psychology with a Concentration in Mental Health and Pre-Clinical Counseling
Shayla DeGeorge, English
Thomas Dow, Chemistry
Courtney Dunn, Accounting
Brooke English, Marketing
Rylee Ferguson, Psychology
Karin Fredricksen, Computer Science
Emily Gay, Mathematics
Paula Gomez Reyes, Graphic Design
Isabella Granara, Organizational Communication
Patrick Harrington, Economics
Mia Hoyos Murray, Music
Taylor Kent, Philosophy
Breanna LaHair, Health Sciences with a Concentration in Patient Advocacy
Brendan Lawrence, Management
Maria LeDoux, Theology
Tobias Liska, Neuroscience with a Cellular Path
Nicholas Macchione, History
Mollie Magner, Biology
John Mastergeorge, Sociology
Caitlin Mathers, Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies with a Concentration in Working with Children and Adolescents in a Community Setting
Sydney McCann, Biology with a Concentration in Pre-Clinical Health Professions
Shannon McLaughlin, Finance
Martin McMahon, Political Science
Michaela Melone, Health Sciences with a Concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy
Sabine Mende, Health Sciences with a Concentration in Pre-Occupational Therapy
Amanda Moon, Health Sciences
Sierra O’Keefe, Biology with a Concentration in Neuroscience & Behavior
Christina Raposo, Criminology
Quinn Ryan, Middle/Secondary Education
Emily Snay, Spanish
Kyle Sorgi, Data Analytics
Ariel Squier, Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development
Alexander Steinman, Marketing with a Concentration in Digital Marketing
Emily Stevens, Economics with a Business Concentration
Shayna Sullivan, Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies with a Concentration in Communication Sciences and Disorders
Emma Ushchak, Biotechnology and Molecular Biology
Xin  “Jessica” Yu, Actuarial Science

Augustine Awards

Johenny Bisono Martinez
Elizabeth Cappelli
Sebastiano D’Angelo
Taylor DeGeorge
Courtney Deslauriers
Julie Dwyer
Emily Fasteson
Kelly Fitzgerald
Ann Irwin
Rebecca Jalbert
Brian James
Kelly Knutelski
Natalie Mazzini
Anna Mullen
Katelyn Pickman
Kelsey Savoy
Julia Sferlazza
Abbigail Sullivan

Special Awards

Carl Allard, Paul Ziegler Award in European History
Samuel Baker, The Joseph E. Sheerin Merit Prize in the Study of Classical Languagy and Literatures
Johenny Bisono-Martinez, The George E. and Sarah Denommé Scholarship
Riley Brackett, Luca Pacioli Award for Acheivement in Accounting
Patrick Davidson, William James Award in Psychology
Stephen Donkor, Ken Moynihan Special Award in American History
Kaitlin Durkin, History and Citizenship Award
Katherine Galvin, Special Award in Public History
Laura Goyette, The Cynthia Courtney and Adelard F. Landry Scholarship in French Studies
Abbey Cashman, Shirley Thompson Scholarship in the Visual Arts
Courtney Deslauriers, Eugene W. Byrnes Scholarship in the Natural Sciences
Anna Hundt, Community Service-Learning Student of the Year
Athena Kordis, The Leo and Madeleine Remillard Scholarship for the Study of French
Antonia Kosnoski, Women’s Studies
Nicholas Macchione, Award for Minor in Italian Studies
Elliott McGuire, Award for Minor in French
Tasneem Mohammed, The David L. Christianson Award for the Study of Foreign Languages
Sean Morrissey, Colleen Ritzer Memorial Award
Sierra O’Keefe, Michele and Donald D’Amour Humanitas Award
James Petullo, Fr. Richard Brunelle Memorial Award in Computer Science
Dakendjy Pierre, The Omer and Lauren Boivin Scholarship in French or Foreign Languages
Leah Pion, The James McCarthy Scholarship for the Study of Economics or Global Studies
Taylor Poland, Mary Whiton Calkins Award in Psychology
Colin Wren, Ray Marion Special Award in World History

Ray Marion Award

Bryce Eckenrode
Rebecca Jalbert
Yasmin Massoudi
Patrick Otto