Judson Graduates 127 Students During Fall Commencement 2017 | Judson University Christian College

 

Judson Graduates 127 Students During Fall Commencement 2017


Faith Gazdzicki - President's Scholar Award(ELGIN, IL – December 9, 2017) Psychology graduate Faith Gazdzicki of Round Lake, Ill., works with youth who struggle with addiction as part of her service with Teen Challenge in San Jose, Calif. In fact, Gazdzicki’s life and work during her time at Judson has been about ministry as much as it has been about academic excellence. It is no wonder that she received the university’s highest recognition for scholarship during Judson’s 78th Fall Commencement today.

Gazdzicki was one of the 127 undergraduate and graduate students who graduated during the two commencement exercises held at Herrick Chapel (1151 N. State St., Elgin) at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The day’s commencement keynote address entitled, “Everything You Need, Plus Three,” was presented by alumnus Shawn Flynn, president and managing partner of the advertising agency AdPro 360 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Flynn graduated from Judson in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in Communications, and he earned a master’s degree from Colorado University. With more than 20 years of experience in digital marketing, he has successfully led his company that was recently named one of the fastest-growing advertising agencies in Colorado.

Albeit an adept businessman, Flynn is acquainted with a few hard knocks. He opened up his presentation by speaking of some business ventures that went well and others that didn’t. He mentioned that the one thing he remembered most about his own graduation at Judson was that the folder he received when he walked across the stage contained a library bill for $5.98 and not the diploma he anticipated. He wanted to make sure that the wisdom he left today was more memorable.

Commencement Speaker Shawn FlynnFlynn spoke of endearing friends and great professors he encountered at Judson, including Dr. Stuart “Doc” Ryder (who was in the audience). He credits Dr. Ryder with inspiring him to seek a postgraduate degree. He also spoke of his love for God.

“So when I reflect how I got here, when I look back on it,” he said, “everything I needed for success was right here in this room. I really had it here all along: friends, family, faith and education. Everything sprouted from here.”

The “plus three” referred to three simple truths: “Trust God. Do your best. Don't quit,” said Flynn, who has coached high school football teams for more than a decade.

He pulled inspiration from Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

Flynn advised the new graduates to push themselves to new heights. “Don't strive to just be average, to just do enough to get by,” he said. “Work an extra two hours a day, that adds up. And, in the long run, you can gain three months on the people you're working with and against. Plus, you can do extra with ministry.”

Putting forth a valiant effort is worth it. “Do it when others are watching and when they are not,” said Flynn. “The Bible is filled with spiritual behemoths that didn't quit.”

In the 10 a.m. commencement ceremony, 72 students graduated from the Division of Professional Studies’ Masters (MBA, Master of Arts in Human Services Administration and Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership) and Adult Undergraduate (evening adult students) Bachelor of Arts and Associate of Arts programs.

At the 2 p.m. commencement program, 55 students graduated from the Traditional Undergraduate program and the Master of Education in Literacy (MLIT) program.

Flynn ended his presentation by telling the new graduates not to sweat the small stuff. “Don't worry about the library bills. Don't quibble and entangled over it,” he concluded. “Don't let the little problems in life keep you from what God has for you.”

Shawn Flynn - Distinguished Alumni AwardFlynn’s graduation day presentation was made extra special. In addition to him giving the commencement address, he received the prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award at the President’s Luncheon, which was held in between the two ceremonies.


During the morning and afternoon ceremonies, several graduates were honored with awards for service and campus leadership.

In the morning program, Applied Psychology (Division of Professional Studies) graduate Robbin Snodgrass of Machesney Park, Ill., was recognized with the Student Service Award – Adult Professional Studies Undergraduate, which recognizes the graduating adult student who has best exemplified sincerity and dedication to Christ, excellence in academic achievement and promotion of the goals and mission of Judson University. During her time at Judson, Robbin often mentored other students and offered encouragement and prayers to members in her cohort. Professors have said that her heart for the Lord is evident in how she serves others. During her internship, it was said that she exceeded all expectations, providing coaching but also kindness, even when it wasn’t convenient. She currently works as an event coordinator at Rock Valley College in Rockford and volunteers as a mentor at a pregnancy center in Rockford. After graduation, she plans to continue working as an advocate for change, counseling, advising and mentoring students.

Ciro Michael Cetrangolo of Richmond, Ill., a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (Division of Professional Studies) candidate received the Ames Leadership Award, which is awarded to the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership student deemed by the Division of Professional Studies faculty and program chairs to have demonstrated skills in giving back to the community through leadership, vision and spiritual guidance. Cetrangolo has been giving back to his community for more than 25 years as a successful tech entrepreneur and public servant. Chief of Police for the Village of Richmond, Cetrangolo is also a strong advocate for education. He is active in his church and community, a member of Rotary International and of the Fellowship of Christian Police Officers #75. One of his instructors have called him “one of the most direct thinkers and accomplished leaders” that they have had the privilege to teach.

Claudio Rene Hernandez of Elgin, Ill., a Master of Business Administration (Division of Professional Studies) graduate received the W. R. Meadows Inc. Award, which is presented to the Master of Business Administration student deemed by the faculty and Division of Professional Studies to have demonstrated the values that have been foundational to W.R. Meadows success since 1926: quality, service, integrity and family. In addition to juggling the family, work-life balance, Hernandez was applauded by his professors for his precision and detail in class work and for always being the willing and ready student. His very presence, work ethic and critical thinking skills, they say, consistently added value to his classes and to the program.

During the afternoon program, Master of Education in Literacy (Division of Education) graduate Becca Bromley of Elk Grove Village, Ill., received the Road to Damascus Award, which recognizes a student with the most dramatic transformation in the way the student embodies literacy education. Bromley was praised for moving away from being a person who admittedly “following programs and rarely questioning” to blossoming into “one who raised a confident and consistent voice as a passionate student advocate.”

Christian Ministries major graduate Christopher Drenth of Palatine, Ill., was awarded the Student Service Award – Traditional Undergraduate, which is given to the graduating senior who best exemplified sincerity in dedication to Christ, achievement in academic pursuit and promotion of Judson University ideals. Student Life staff members laud Drenth for embodying “the character, passion and leadership that we would hope for every Judson student.” Drenth has served as a small group leader, been a presenter at dorm events and in chapel, led devotions for Judson Athletic team events and worked as both a resident assistant at Lindner Tower and a resident director of Wilson Hall. He is also a Wayside Cross homeless ministry volunteer and a youth and children’s pastoral intern at Fellowship Life Bible Church.

Faith Gazdzicki of Round Lake, Ill., received the university’s highest recognition for scholarship, the President’s Scholar Award. This award honors the graduating senior in the traditional program who has demonstrated distinguished academic achievement in the context of a Christian liberal arts program and adhered consistently to Judson ideals. Gazdzicki, who earned her degree in three and a half years, has been on the Dean’s List every semester. Her coursework reflects an interest in counseling and social services, and she currently works with Teen Challenge in San Jose, Calif., where she assists youths struggling with addiction. She has participated in short-term mission projects in Mexico and Cambodia, and served as a Sunday School teacher. At Judson, she was selected as a World Leaders Forum Scholar, and she has worked on the Chapel Worship Team and led the Chapel Drama Team. She was also a student ambassador in the Admissions Office and a Campus Safety officer.

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