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HAMBURG, N.Y. – Hilbert College held its 61st annual commencement ceremony on Friday, May 20 at the Hafner Recreation Center on the Hilbert campus. Hilbert’s commencement exercises returned to the College’s Hamburg campus after over 15 years of being held off campus. In addition to the Class of 2022, the classes of 2020 and 2021 were invited to participate in the ceremony as their celebrations were affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic. As Hilbert prepares to celebrate its 65th anniversary this year and the College’s founding congregation, the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, celebrate their 125th anniversary, the graduates welcomed commencement speaker Sister M. Andrea Ciszewski, FSSJ ’66.
Sister Andrea told the graduates, “You have proven yourselves to be individuals of faith, trust, and hope as you weathered the normal challenges of life with the added complications rocked by a virus, senseless acts of violence and hatred, and disastrous global events.”
“These complications of health concerns, safety for yourself and others, additional financial burdens, a sense of isolation, and the stress of completing academic requirements attest to your resilience,” Sister Andrea continued. “You are here today as living testimonies of how the human spirit accompanied by a deep faith, a supportive community, and a purpose does not simply survive but thrives.”
Hilbert President Michael S. Brophy, Ph.D. and Chair of the Board of Trustees, Laurie Boreanaz Carra ‘81, presented the President’s Medal to two members of the Hilbert community, Mary Ann Hobar and Robert Pawelski. The President’s Medal, one of Hilbert College’s highest honors, recognizes faculty, staff, and members of board of trustees for extraordinary commitment and service to higher education, and for exemplifying Franciscan values. In her 22 total years as faculty at Hilbert, Professor Hobar (Hoby) has been an invaluable member of the criminal justice and now the forensic science faculty. She helped develop and run the Forensic Science Crime Scene Investigation Program since its inception, always looking for ways to improve the program and ensure students are “ready for the real world.” She can be found at all hours of the day, including weekends, preparing for her classes and labs. Robert (Bob) Pawelski, IT coordinator and SMART classroom specialist, has been an integral member of the IT team at Hilbert College since joining the school in May 2001 as coordinator of information technology. Bob worked tirelessly in 2020 to keep the campus up and running as classroom instruction shifted to Zoom technology.
President Brophy also presented the Hilbert College Medal at the ceremony to David Rust. The Hilbert College Medal, one of Hilbert College’s highest honors, is presented to those who embody Franciscan values, demonstrate excellence in their profession or career, and excellence in community service. David Rust has dedicated himself to helping students in the Western New York area receive a high-quality college education. As the chief executive officer of Say Yes to Education Buffalo, he has played a vital role in providing tuition scholarships to 1,096 scholars who have already completed academic programs. He was instrumental in launching a Say Yes Forever $100 million endowment campaign to fund the scholarships in perpetuity.
Sister Andrea was also presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Additionally, Hilbert awarded Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy an honorary doctorate of humane letters for the thoughtful leadership and tremendous strength and perseverance he has demonstrated in the months since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Hilbert also established a full scholarship to provide refugees the ability to enroll in online coursework through Hilbert College Global. Very Reverend Marijan Procyk accepted the degree on behalf of President Zelenskyy.
President Brophy conferred master’s degrees, in addition to four- and two-year degrees to graduates in the Class of 2022.
Top student awards that were presented at Hilbert’s 61st commencement include:
Additional commencement information, including video of the ceremony is available here - https://www.hilbert.edu/academics/commencement.
Hilbert College, located in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., south of Buffalo, is a private four-year college founded in 1957 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition. With over 800 students, Hilbert is a dynamic Western New York college that offers career-focused majors, including one of the top criminal justice programs in the region, and more than 50 minors and concentrations. The college’s engaging, student-centered campus community offers numerous leadership, internship, and service learning opportunities from which students launch successful careers while making positive changes in their communities. The Hilbert Blueprint promotes a well-rounded student experience over four years – starting with the Foundations Seminar in the freshman year, followed by Sophomore Service, Junior Symposium, and culminating with the Senior Capstone. Hilbert has expanded its academic offerings with the college’s first graduate programs in criminal justice administration and public administration, including a track in health administration.
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