Newman University held its annual commencement ceremony in Wichita, Kansas, on Friday, May 6. But graduates completing their social work degrees, both bachelor’s and master’s, at the Colorado Springs outreach location aren’t always able to travel and attend the official ceremony.
In order to honor these remote graduates, past Colorado Springs program leaders created a way to celebrate with pinning and hooding ceremony held locally — a tradition that has carried on for more than 10 years.
A total of 18 social work program graduates were recognized during the Colorado Springs ceremony on Saturday, May 14.
The celebration took place at Holy Apostles Catholic Church located at 4925 N Carefree Circle. Family and friends gathered to watch their graduates be honored.
Newman alumni from the Colorado Springs area gathered for a mixer on Friday, May 13.
Each year, one graduate is chosen to receive the MSW Distinguished Student Award. The award is presented to a recipient based on leadership observed among students, which includes a commitment to social work and serving the community.
The 2022 recipient was Mark Searle.
Mark was recognized for his consistent willingness to support his peers while demonstrating leadership and teamwork skills simultaneously.
Brittany Stahnke-Joy, Ph.D., assistant professor of social work, said, “Mark is not only a student who goes above and beyond in his classroom accomplishments, … he is consistently willing to be an extra help in the strenuous writing process — as an English teacher himself — to his peers, with enthusiasm, ready to teach and guide.
“Mark has a down-to-earth, trusting nature that is unique and will allow him to be one of those social workers we all look up to and whose clients will be lucky to have,” continued Stahnke-Joy. “I am proud to have been Mark’s professor, knowing that I in some way contributed to his growth in the last four years, and I am honored to know him — as a fellow clinician and as a human.”
During the ceremony, Professor Emeritus Larry Heck, Ph.D., honored inductees of Pi Gamma Mu — a nationally recognized honor society for high-achieving students striving toward a career in the social sciences.
Heck had been a member and chapter sponsor of Pi Gamma Mu throughout his entire 47-year career at Newman.
Bachelor of Social Work Program Director and Professor Yelando Johnson, Ph.D., was the guest speaker during the celebration. During her speech, she congratulated and encouraged graduates to continue striving for the best and to transform society.
The Colorado Springs Master of Social Work (MSW) location opened in 2005 and has helped hundreds of graduates realize their dream of launching a career to serve others.
The Newman social work program adopted a trauma-competent practice curriculum in the fall of 2018. The program is fully accredited and graduates are eligible for licensure as professionals.
2022 Colorado Springs graduates are:
- Kylee J. Carter
- Haley Elizabeth Clark
- Alexis A Claycomb
- Valiore T. Corral
- Bridget A. Edmondson
- Candi Y. Gilliam
- Deneil A. James
- Antoinette Marie Johnson
- Alice Miles Je’Ree “Ivy” Nesmith
- Rachel Anne Ortiz
- Ieshia N. Salas
- Mark D. Searle
- Amy L. Stewart
- Stephanie V. Sufian
- Colin K. Tyler
- Tina M. Valdez
- Luke S. Van Kirk
Find the full gallery of photos from the Colorado Springs hooding ceremony in our Flickr album:
Earn a Newman social work degree in Colorado Springs
Courses in Colorado are blended in format, including on-campus and online courses. Students with an Associate of Arts (AA) in social work from Pikes Peak Community College are admitted under an articulation agreement with Newman University.