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University of Hartford Graduates Urged to Rise to Their Full Potential

Some of the 1,000 graduates“You are the rising generation. You are the leaders, not just for tomorrow, but for today,” said U.S. Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) as she addressed approximately 1,000 graduates who received their degrees at the University of Hartford’s Undergraduate Commencement on Sunday, May 21. “Today I challenge you to raise your sight, not just your status, as you enter the workforce and a world desperately in need of your energy, talent, gifts, and commitment.”

U.S. Rep. Mia LoveBefore her remarks, Love was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws. She earned a music theatre degree from the University’s The Hartt School in 1997, and has represented Utah’s 4th District since 2014. Love is the first Haitian American and the first black female Republican elected to Congress. She serves on the House Financial Services Committee and on three subcommittees.

President Walter HarrisonPresiding over his last Commencement ceremony as University President, Walter Harrison, who is retiring in June after 19 years of service to the University, told the graduates he is proud to also be a member of the class of 2017. “Today and henceforward, I ask you to be UHart proud. I ask you to take pride in being a member of this University. Be proud of your colleagues, proud of your classmates, and be proud of this University’s 60-year tradition of excellence and service. Stand up for this University, stand up for each other, and now stand up and cheer for you and all of your classmates.” Prior to his remarks, Harrison was awarded the newly created Walter Harrison Medal for Outstanding Leadership, which recognizes extraordinary dedication to the University.  

Julia Piri '17In her Charge to the Class, student speaker and business management major Julia Piri ’17, of Woodmere, N.Y., urged her classmates to work hard to get what they want. “Just because we now all have a degree does not mean the hustle is over. Keep working hard and progressing forward in whatever path is next for you. Don’t just dream your wildest dream, do it.”

Three students were recognized at the ceremony for academic performance and leadership. Dylan Healy ’17 of West Hartford, Conn., a psychology major with a minor in performing arts management, received the John G. Lee Medal, awarded annually to a graduating senior from Greater Hartford who has excelled academically and demonstrated a commitment to community service; Janet Zapor ’17, an engineering major from Southbury, Conn, was presented with the Belle K. Ribicoff Prize, awarded for academic excellence; and Lyla O’Brien ’17 of Milton, Vt., a biology major with a minor in environmental studies, received the John G. Martin Scholarship which will enable her to pursue a degree at the University of Oxford this fall.

Also receiving honorary doctorates during Sunday’s Commencement ceremony were Robert H. Forrester ‘66, president and CEO of Newman’s Own Foundation; and Jennifer Smith Turner, retired chief executive of the Girl Scouts of Connecticut and president and CEO of Smith & Associates, LLC.

University of Hartford faculty members honored at the ceremony were: Warren Haston, associate professor of music education in The Hartt School, and Cy Yavuzturk, professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture, who each received the Roy E. Larsen Award for Excellence in Teaching; David Macbride ’73, professor of composition and music theory in The Hartt School, who was presented with the Humphrey R. Tonkin Award for Scholarly and/or Artistic Creativity; Catherine Certo, department chair, program director, and professor of physical therapy in the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, and Jane Horvath, associate professor of economics, in the College of Arts and Sciences and Hillyer College, who each received the Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Award for Sustained Service to the University; Michael Horwitz, assistant professor of academic strategies in Hillyer College, who was presented with the Donald W. Davis All-University Curriculum Award; and Daphne Berry, assistant professor of management in the Barney School of Business, who received the Belle K. Ribicoff Junior Faculty Prize.

Charles E. Pagano Jr. ’84, M’07, a retired executive vice president and chief technology officer at ESPN, was the recipient of the University’s 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award. Pagano received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in organizational psychology from the University. He currently serves on the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture’s Board of Visitors.