HAMBURG, N.Y. – Hilbert College held its 53rd annual commencement ceremony on May 10 and nearly 285 graduates rejoiced in receiving their degrees.
Commencement speaker Sister Ann Marie Hudzina, general minister of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, urged the Class of 2014, “Choose to be a leader who seeks to touch the heart of the world. Choose to be a leader that impacts the world for the good.”
“Let your vision be your north star,” Sr. Ann Marie said. “Let your vision give direction to all your relationships and undertakings.”
“Be a leader who demonstrates commitment,” Sr. Ann Marie said. “Be committed to being the best person you can be and honoring the obligations you have assumed. Be committed to making the world a better place for others.”
Hilbert President Cynthia Zane, Ed.D., presented the President’s Medal to Hilbert Professor and Director of the Center for Excellence in Learning, Dr. Charles Ernst.
The President’s Medal, one of Hilbert College’s highest honors, recognizes faculty, staff and board trustees for extraordinary commitment and service to higher education, and for exemplifying Franciscan values. Ernst has been a faculty member at Hilbert College since 1981. During that time, he has served in many capacities, including Chair of the Arts and Sciences department. Throughout his career, he has worked tirelessly to enrich the life of the College, most visibly through his supervision of the campus newspaper, The H-Files, for the past 15 years. He has also overseen the production of the college’s literary magazine, Hilbert Horizons, and in past years, organized annual trips to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and coordinated a campus lecture series.
President Zane also bestowed the Hilbert College Medal upon Ronald J. Soluri, Sr. and Sister Emily Therese Bloom, FSSJ. The Hilbert College Medal is presented to those “who embody Franciscan values, demonstrate excellence in their profession or career, and excellence in community service.”
Soluri has served many years on the Hilbert College Board of Trustees and served as Chair of the board’s finance committee. He has also been an advocate for appropriate recognition of Hilbert’s faculty and staff. Soluri is the Managing Director of Freed Maxick CPAs P.C. Freed ranks number one in Buffalo Business First’s list of Buffalo CPA firms, and is in the top 100 firms nationally. Soluri’s primary responsibility is management of the Firm’s four offices in Buffalo, Rochester, Batavia and Syracuse, as well as various consulting, accounting, and auditing engagements. He has 41 years of experience in accounting and taxation including acquisitions, sales, and contract negotiations.
Sr. Emily Therese Bloom, FSSJ has been a tireless champion for excellence in higher education and for Hilbert College. Sr. Emily Therese is the Director of Ministry for the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. She was previously FSSJ Associate General Minister from 1990-94 and again from 1998-2002. She served on the Hilbert College Board of Trustees from 1999-2006 and from 2011-14. She has also served on the Immaculata Academy Board of Trustees. Sr. Emily Therese has an extensive background as a counselor in substance abuse and addiction. She has served as Executive Director for the Allegany Council on Alcoholism & Substance Abuse and at Boys Hope of Florida, Inc. She was a Supervisor of Allegany Council’s Clinic Director of the Outpatient Program, the Residence Manager, and Prevention Education Coordinator. She was appointed by the Governor’s State Interagency Committee for the Health Education and Services Network as an Advisory Council Member, serving Region I. She was also appointed by the Director of New York State Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse to serve on “The Task Force on Alcohol the Gateway Drug.”
Zane also presented an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Sr. Ann Marie Hudzina, FSSJ.
President Zane conferred master’s degrees, to Hilbert’s second cohort of graduate students, in addition to four- and two- year degrees to graduates in the Class of 2014.
Top student awards that were presented at Hilbert’s 53rd commencement include:
• Lambert and Margaret Graham Award for a full-time returning adult student who has earned the highest cumulative quality point average. Presented to Laura Haidee Lopez
• Kimberly Bruch Raczkowski Memorial Alumni Association Award for a graduate who reflects the spirit of Hilbert and its mission, and possesses strong leadership skills and demonstrates loyalty and dedication to others. Presented to Robbi Bailey
• Sister Mary Edwina Bogel Award to an outstanding female graduate in recognition of her character, intellectual achievement and devoted service to fellow students and the college. Presented to Samantha Sieg
• John Kissel Man of the Year Award to an outstanding male student in recognition of his character, intellectual progress, organizational ability, and participation in activities and programs. Presented to Joseph Pernick