Artboard 1 apply Artboard 1 copy 2 Mount_Logo_Primary_RGB Mount_Logo_Primary_RGB give Artboard 1 copy 3 info link Mount_Logo_Primary_RGB Artboard 1 Artboard 2 Artboard 1 visit

2021 Graduates: Facts, Figures and People to Know

Donna Klinger

commencement feature

Mount St. Mary's University will host its 213th commencement exercises in four ceremonies on Saturday, May 15 and Sunday, May 16 at Waldron Family Stadium. The ceremonies will celebrate the achievements of 560 total graduates. To ensure the health and safety of the Mount community, the university quadrupled the number of ceremonies from one to four, moved the events outdoors and limited the number of guests permitted per graduate. Masks are required, and physical distancing protocols will be followed.


Undergraduate degree recipients:

  • The College of Liberal Arts - 185
  • The Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business - 107
  • The School of Education - 26
  • The School of Natural Science and Mathematics - 107

Master’s graduates:

  • Master of Arts in Philosophical Studies - 6
  • Master of Arts in Teaching - 31
  • Master of Business Administration - 62
  • Master of Education in Instructional Leadership - 4
  • Master of Health Administration - 9
  • Master of Science in Biotechnology and Management - 13
  • Master of Science on Sport Management - 10


Commencement Speakers:

jovita-carranza.jpgEach ceremony will have its own commencement and student speakers. The commencement speaker at the 10 a.m. ceremony on May 15 is Jovita Carranza, former administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) from 2020-21 and treasurer of the United States from 2017-20. If conditions had allowed the traditional ceremony in Knott Arena, Carranza would have been the commencement speaker. She will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters during the ceremony.

The student speaker at the first ceremony is Julia Baer, recipient of the 2021 Edward J. Flanagan Memorial Prize, awarded to the member of the senior class who best represents the tradition of the university in scholarship, conduct, and leadership. Baer, a resident of Emmitsburg, Maryland, is a double major in biology and chemistry. A Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship recipient in 2019-20, Baer will be pursuing a doctorate in ocean sciences at University of California Santa Cruz.

The remaining commencement speakers are listed below:

  • May 15, 4 p.m.: Richard P. Miller, C’74, retired president and CEO of Virtua and vice chair of the Mount’s board of trustees; student speaker: Alejandra Piti-Mesa, a health sciences and nursing major who is the recipient of the John N. Kolon Memorial Award, awarded to a member of the senior class who in his or her daily life has demonstrated outstanding courage and who has been an inspiration to his or her fellow classmates and the entire Mount community.
  • May 16, 10 a.m.: Gracelyn McDermott, C'93, vice president for marketing, sales and business development at Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States and chair of the university's board of trustees; student speaker: Nathaniel Bald, a triple major in French, German and economics who is the recipient of the Rev. John B. Holley Memorial Prize, presented to a member of the senior class who has earned distinction in service to the church and community, 
  • May 16, 4 p.m.: Lieutenant General (Retired) Nadja Y. West, the 44th surgeon general of the United States Army and commanding general of the U.S. Army Medical Command, student speaker: Kristen Wachter Foreman, who is receiving a Master of Education with a 4.0 grade point average and is the 2021 Teacher of the Year at Ballenger Creek Elementary School in Frederick.

 Notable graduates, listed in alphabetical order:

nia-grad-pic-cropped.jpgNia Brown
Brown, a business management major from Greenbelt, Maryland, has held a number of ledership positions on campus, including vice president of Women in Business and a member of the executive board of The V.O.I.C.E. She also served as secretary of the Maryland Student Legislature in her sophomore year and spent a semester studying abroad in Prague. 

After graduation - Technical consulting customer engineer at Microsoft.

j-castillo.jpgJocelyn Castillo
An Honors student and accounting major from Frederick, Maryland, Castillo enjoyed serving as a peer tutor. "The Mount has equipped me for post-college with ethical and moral knowledge that will help me become a trusted leader for my community," Castillo said. 

After graduation - Staff accountant at LSWG.


czekner-3.jpgKerri Czekner
One of 11 students nationwide to receive a Fulbright Research Award to Italy, Czekner, a biochemistry major and English minor from Bensalem, Pennsylvania, won the Seton Prize for the student with the highest average maintained throughout the course in biology and the James M. Murray Memorial Prize for an undergraduate with distinguished study of chemistry. Through a summer research internship in the summer of 2020, she created a portable spectrophotometer. 

After graduation - Conducting cancer research at the Istituto Europeo di Oncologia in the melanoma laboratory of Dr. Luisa Lanfrancone or pursing a doctorate at the Skaggs Graduate School of Chemical and Biological Sciences at Scripps Research.

s-gunn.pngSewa Gunn
An international studies and political science major from Germantown, Maryland, Gunn served as president of the Student Government Association in his sophomore year and later became a member of the Men of Distinction. During his time at the Mount, he interned in the Mayor's Office of Human Services Homeless Services Program in Baltimore.


After graduation Master of legal studies at American University.

  elena-rittie-professional-photo-2018.jpgElena Rittie
A business major with minors in accounting and theater, Rittie, of Reistertown, Maryland, drew on what she learned in all three areas of study for her senior honors project of directing a production of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice." Rittie, a resident assistant and student admission tour director, was touched by the support she received when showtime came and several of her cast members were in COVID-19 isolation. "It showed me how much the people on this campus lift each other up, and I've never felt more loved than in that moment," she said.

After graduation - Business Management Pathways Program at Northrop Grumman.

 schmelyun.jpgDhane Schmelyun

Schmelyun, a biology major from Hanover, Pennsylvania, was a contact tracer and part of the wastewater analysis team that worked to slow the spread of COVID-19 on campus. He was president of the Health Professions Club and leader of the MCAT study group. In the summer of 2019, he interned in the laboratory of David Ginty, Ph.D., C’84, at Harvard Medical School.

After graduation - Doctorate program in chemical biology interface, Johns Hopkins University.

mike-tomlin.jpgMichael Tomlin

Tomlin, a business administration major through the Division of Graduate, Professional and Continuing Education in Frederick, comp;eted his degree in the fall of 2020. He works as a quality assurance analyst for Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Since beginning at the Mount in 2016, he has become one of the subject matter experts on his team and has received two promotions. A Navy veteran, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007. Furthering his education was a way to help become a lifelong learner and counteract cognitive symptoms. Tomlin bikes to raise awareness about and raise money to create a world without MS. Learn more on his Facebook page

ROTC Commissioning

Ten cadets from the Mount’s Class of 2021 will be commissioned. They include Gloria DeMoura, Ethan Fiery, Mackenzie Flynn, Dylan Furnback, Brian Hester, Henry Hoffman, Hannah Orland, Franke Pantoja, David Shoop and Sean Zaleski. The cadets will commission as second lieutenant officers and serve on active duty or in the Army Reserve. Hester, who received the Lancer Award for outstanding performance and exemplary leadership in the Mount's ROTC program and has earned an MBA, served in the Army for 11 years as an Air Defense Auxiliary solider in multiple roles. He will serve as an Air Defense Artillery Officer, attending the Basic Officer Leader Course at Fort Sill in Oklahoma with a follow-on assignment to 5-7 Air Defense Artillery Battalion, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Baumholder in Germany.  

Donna Klinger