The Newman University Fall 2011 Commencement ceremony was held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011 at Central Community Church, 6100 W. Maple. A total of 196 candidates for degrees were honored in the ceremony, including 45 candidates for associate degrees, 100 candidates for bachelor’s degrees, and 51 candidates for master’s degrees.
Students are considered candidates for degrees until final grades are posted and students are officially recognized as having fulfilled all requirements for their degrees. Official announcements and a full list of graduates are expected in early 2012.
Graduation weekend activities included the Fall 2011 Baccalaureate on Dec. 16. The event featured personal reflections from graduating students Amy Davis and Lindsey Torres on their experience at Newman.
The Commencement ceremony included an address by Newman Associate Professor of Nursing Amy Siple. Siple received the 2011 Newman University Teaching Excellence Award, an annual recognition to a full-time faculty member who has demonstrated an innovative or dynamic approach to courses, course revisions, and teaching techniques. The award recipient also has the honor of speaking at the fall and spring commencement ceremonies. See an excerpt of Siple’s address here.
The ceremony also included the bestowal of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa degrees upon three notable and accomplished members of the extended Newman community. The honorary degrees are awarded each fall and spring Commencement to individuals whose life and work reflect exemplary dedication to one of the university’s four Core Values: Catholic Identity, Culture of Service, Academic Excellence, and Global Perspective.
For the Fall 2011 ceremony, Newman alumna, book author and Newbery Medal recipient Clare Vanderpool was honored for representing the Core Value of Academic Excellence. Guatemala missionaries Dani Brought, ASC and Kris Schrader, ASC were honored for embodying the Core Value of Global Perspective.
Clare Sander Vanderpool
Vanderpool was honored for her work guiding and educating young people and for her achievements as an author.
Vanderpool grew up in Wichita not far from her current home in College Hill, and attended Blessed Sacrament Catholic School and Wichita Collegiate School, where she developed a strong love for storytelling and writing. Following her graduation in 1987 from Kansas Newman College (now Newman University) with degrees in English and Elementary
Education, she served as Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Wichita, where she planned and conducted retreats, leadership training and other projects and programs for high school youth and young adults. When her first child was born, Vanderpool left that position to care for her children, and to pursue her love of storytelling.
Vanderpool published her first novel, Moon Over Manifest, in 2010. The book tells the powerful story of the only daughter of a drifter searching for her personal meaning of home and family during the Great Depression. To write the book, Vanderpool relied on her creative powers, but also did extensive research on the era and drew from the experiences and history of her maternal grandparents’ family. In January 2011, she was named the winner of the prestigious Newbery Medal, which is bestowed annually by the American Library Association to recognize, “the best contribution to American children’s literature.” She is the first Kansas author to receive this honor. Vanderpool received the Newbery Medal in June 2011 at the annual meeting of the ALA in New Orleans, La., where thousands were in attendance. By then Moon Over Manifest had become a best-seller.
Today, when not working on a new book or spending time with her husband Mark and children Luke, Paul, Grace and Lucy, Vanderpool is a sought-after speaker at schools, libraries, and conferences around the country. In spring 2012, the Newman University Alumni Association will recognize her achievement as a children’s author by awarding her the Leon A. McNeill Distinguished Alumni Award in Arts and Humanities.
Dani Brought, ASC and Kris Shrader, ASC
Brought and Schrader were honored for their ministry of education and health care for the poor in Guatemala in the name of their religious order, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.
Schrader began her ministry in Guatemala in 1988. Working with the Precious Blood Missionaries and the Precious Blood Sisters from Dayton, Ohio, she built a school, now known as the Maria De Mattias Education Center, in La Labor, Guatemala, on land purchased by the former Ruma province of the Adorers. Today, the school remains under Schrader’s direction offering secondary education, technical training and adult education, and serving as a community center for a vulnerable population in rural Guatemala. In addition to the center’s excellent reputation for quality education, it now includes a regional library serving all age groups from 14 area communities, provides in-service opportunities for hundreds of teachers in the area, and creates programs for the development of reading skills and the promotion of reading.
Brought became the Director of the Precious Blood Health Project in La Labor in 1994, where she developed and currently supervises medical and dental clinics, pharmacies and laboratories, as well as programs for vaccinations, health education, environmental health and sanitation. Each month, this award-winning health care ministry, now known as the Sangre de Cristo Health Care Project, meets the basic needs of hundreds of families with limited resources. Under Brought’s leadership, the Sangre de Cristo Health Clinic and its Healthy Habits program is also helping to improve the conditions that make Guatemala the country with the third highest rate of chronic hunger and malnutrition in the world.
In addition to their daily work with the people, both Schrader and Brought have addressed local, regional and national organizations in Guatemala about their ministry and the need to improve conditions and the quality of life for those to whom they minister. For the past three years they have also welcomed groups of Newman University Spanish students and faculty to their mission so that they can learn firsthand about the lives and needs of these people.
Updated Dec. 22, 2011