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This Saturday we will celebrate the accomplishments of over 190 graduates participating in our Graduate Commencement Ceremony. As Dean Rebecca Drenovsky remarked at our annual Commencement Brunch on Saturday, May 11, "We are filled with such hope as we celebrate students who chose to lead with a larger impact. Educators who will inspire a generation of students. Nonprofit administrators and business leaders who will advocate tirelessly for their companies and their communities. Counselors who will provide shelter for those in their care. Scientists who will research solutions to the world’s challenges. Communication professionals who will assist their clients as they ethically navigate the digital world. Writers who will help us put words to that which we cannot describe on our own. Theologians and religious thinkers who will provide spiritual relief. And, sports scholars who will integrate their knowledge in the humanities and the human body to aid us in our search for understanding and entertainment."

We asked the Class of 2024 to share what they’ve learned as a John Carroll University graduate student and what they plan to take with them as they launch their inspired futures. These 10 graduate students highlight a fraction of the impact our students will make – Onward, On!

Photo of Logan Cawley, 2024 Educational Leadership Graduate

“I feel prepared to achieve my goals, serve my community, and take on future challenges because of the John Carroll experience.”

As an educator, Logan Cawley, '24G is “passionate about supporting the individual development of students in his classroom.” Through the John Carroll M.Ed. in Educational Leadership, he aimed to “expand this support throughout an entire school building.” The JCU experience provided Logan with “the opportunity to engage with educational leaders in authentic settings,” thus preparing him for his professional future. 

During his graduate degree, Logan was involved with Alpha Sigma Nu (Jesuit Honor Society), emphasizing that it inspired him to “relentlessly improve myself and the ways I can support others.” He found that John Carroll is “a tight-knit community made up of caring, dedicated, and talented people,” and he gives praise to his professors– “the JCU faculty are experienced experts in their field, and they were able to provide me with an educational experience that was meaningful, insightful, and rigorous.” After graduation, Logan is eager to use his newfound knowledge base and professional  credentials “to step into a formal leadership role.”



Photo of Sr. Cynthia El Kassis, 2024 MBA Graduate

Sister Cynthia El Kassis, '24G became passionate about business, development, and sustainability because she “wanted to change the world in a meaningful way.” 

Even while balancing a nursing degree and managing an assisted living facility, Sr. Cynthia chose to pursue John Carroll’s MBA Program because she genuinely wanted to combine her “love of business” with her “dedication to promoting sustainable development and making a significant influence on society.” Practical immersion experiences, such as The Business Forum and Ethics Round Table, allowed Cynthia to apply theoretical principles and cultivate a deeper understanding of the “nexus of business, development, and sustainability.”

Upon reflection, Sr. Cynthia stated that JCU developed her scientific and understanding and critical thinking skills through demanding academics, offered social and personal growth through interaction with the active academic community, and gave her “a strong sense of responsibility for sustainability and environmental preservation.” After graduation, Sr. Cynthia is determined to support environmental and sustainability programs through community engagement, lobbying, and research. She emphasizes, “I have a stronger sense of purpose and a stronger desire to change the world as a result of my interactions with teachers and other students at JCU.”



Photo of Marnia Gipson, 2024 Digital Marketing Graduate

A local from Cleveland OH, Marnia Gipson, '24G wanted to pursue her Master’s in Digital Marketing and Communications Strategy in order to “start her own business and the skills needed to do so in a digital world.” 

During her graduate education, Marnia used learned digital marketing strategies to help a friend grow her own business– truly embodying the John Carroll value of becoming a “woman for and with others.” Formed relationships like these with fellow colleagues are at the heart of Marnia’s takeaways from JCU, as she states “the journey is better when done with others.”

Additionally, Marnia emphasizes that JCU instilled a dedication to her studies and helped her become a “lifelong learner.” After graduation, she looks forward to relaxing her brain, spending time with family, and getting to work in her field.

"JCU has definitely caused me to become more studious and more interested in becoming a lifelong learner."



Photo of Michael Hollins, 2024 Sports Leadership Graduate

Michael Hollins, '17, '24G knew that, in order to evolve in the sports administration world, he needed to “learn leadership from a thirty thousand foot up perspective.” The John Carroll Master’s of Sports Leadership Program did just that– it showed Michael the “power of exposure” in being surrounded with high performing individuals, and that “success is in the process that compounds over time.” Additionally, the program helped him to make real-world connections from coursework-to-the-court; he made sure “signs were properly placed” in a basketball game due to a concept from his Sports Law class.

Michael’s biggest takeaway at JCU is the “4 for 40 rule,” which states that, “when someone comes to JCU, they are exchanging the next four years for the next forty years because of the great people that represent our alumni base.” Looking ahead, Michael looks to build upon his current role of John Carroll’s Assistant Athletic Director for Student Success and Leadership by planning to become an athletic director of an institution.

“The Sports Leadership Program has given me the comprehensive tools to understand the largeness of the athletic world.”



Photo of Lloyana Hunter, 2024 Clinical Mental Health Counseling Graduate

“I have been able to juggle both my dreams of being a therapist with working and taking care of my daughter by attending the online program.”

A native from Columbus, OH, Lloyana Hunter, '24G “always wanted to help people with their problems.” She decided to pursue her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling due to personal experiences and a desire to  “give the same knowledge to children and people within her community.” Lloyana’s two current internship roles, working at OhioGuidestone and the department of Youth Services, have shaped her JCU career. These positions have allowed her to provide community-based mental health treatment to children in school, as well as individual and group counseling (substance abuse treatment) to incarcerated youth.

Lloyana’s biggest takeaways include the mindset that “with the right team, you can achieve anything.” Additionally, she gives praise to her professors, stating they “have been very helpful, from lecturing to guidance.” Looking forward, Lloyana is excited to continue working with children in either a community-based setting or facility with incarcerated youth. She is also proud that her daughter can see her “graduate for a second time.”



Photo of Yub Kim, 2024 Clinical Mental Health Counseling Graduate

After a deep healing influence due to therapy in his own life, Yub Kim, '24G recognized the “power of holding a safe space for someone in distress and the transformation it can bring.” As a result, Yub wanted to provide this same experience to others through the JCU Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Yub affirmed that, like his counselor, JCU “provided space for me to expand how I understand the world and challenge my beliefs and values. I felt safe whenever I was challenged during the program.” Campus involvement through his Graduate Assistantship at the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, CSDI programming, and student cultural organization membership allowed for Yub to “self-reflect and validate others in their own experiences.”

Yub’s biggest takeaway from JCU is his belief that “human beings long for the same thing (to be seen and understood),” but go about it in different ways due to lived experiences. As a result, Yub states that his “job in this world is not to fix anybody, but to hold space for them to be more authentic in their lives.” After graduation, Yub will be serving as a sex therapist (Cleveland Sex Therapy), teaching at John Carroll (Human Sexuality and Counseling), enrolling in the Gesault Training Program, and working towards American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) certification.

“I was able to learn more about myself than I have over the past 35 years.”



Photo of Rev. Rick Kress, 2024 Theology & Religious Studies Graduate

As a veteran (43 years experience) ordained pastor from Shelby Township, MI, spirituality and biblical studies have always been at the forefront of Rev. Rick Kress’, '24G life. When the JCU M.A. Theology and Religious Studies hybrid option became available in 2021, he knew it was “what he needed.” This program flexibility allowed him to “involve the congregation in his JCU studies,” such as his research on lectio divina, a method of studying/experiencing the Bible. In turn, the congregation was his support system and “cheerleader squad” in completing the degree!

“The MA program has stretched me intellectually and spiritually,” said Rev. Kress. “It made me more aware of various faith traditions and gave me a special appreciation for the Ignatian way of spirituality.” He also gives praise to the JCU professors, exclaiming that they were “top-notch” and helped him to “have a customizable educational experience.”  Rev. Kress was also involved in JCU sponsored organizations as a current member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit Honors Society. Following graduation, he will continue his ongoing roles of serving in the Methodist congregation and consulting nonprofit organizations, while also starting to write a book that incorporates lectio divina into daily living.

“The biggest takeaway is the Ignatian way of education, its values and spirituality. That has been the most meaningful part of my degree work.”



Photo of Marissa Markham, 2024 School-Based M.Ed. Graduate

When Marissa Markham, '23G, '24G took the course “Multicultural Education” during her first graduate program at JCU, she realized how high her interest was in education. Reflection, research, and the help of her advisor (Dr. Reynolds) and professor (Dr. Schauer), led her to pursue a second graduate degree leading to teaching licensure in Primary Education (P-5). Her Graduate Assistant position in the Education Department, along with hands-on classroom experiences, helped shape Marissa’s graduate education by “solidifying her interest in K-12 education research” and “expanding her knowledge and exposure to different types of learners/learning styles.” Additionally, Marissa served as the Vice President of Marketing and Media for the Graduate Student Association and the Graduate Student Representative for the University Committee on Education Policies; these roles exposed her to “behind-the-scenes” decision-making processes and helped integrate herself into the JCU community easily.


Marissa’s biggest takeaway from JCU is the “sense of community.” She states, “my peers always wanted each other to do well and offered help/support ,” and my professors “genuinely care about us as students and future professionals.” After graduation, Marissa is looking forward to taking (and passing) her licensure exams and landing her first teaching position!


“We are getting quality education and experiences that are helping shape us into the teachers we are becoming.”



Photo of Megan McKita, 2024 Professional MBA Graduate

Having a former colleague as a JCU undergraduate and graduate alum, the John Carroll MBA Program stood out to Megan McKita, '24G. Through her experience, Megan notes that “the executive MBA has you work with a group of like minded individuals,” and that certain projects helped develop a direct relationship with employers. 


Specifically, the JCU capstone project gave Megan the opportunity to network and “have a meeting with Matt Boler, CEO of the Boler Company.” This meeting led to Megan’s current role as a human resources representative for Hendrickson (parent company is Boler), where she plans to continue working post-graduation. Furthermore, Megan’s biggest takeaway from JCU is to “create a network of people you can trust and who will support your successes.”


“The nature of the Professional MBA Program forced me out of my comfort zone. It teaches a lot of soft skills as well as encourages you to grow your professional network.”



Photo of Joe Wargo, 2024 School Counseling Graduate

Joe Wargo, '24G knew that School Counseling was the “obvious option” for him as it satisfied three critical components: 1) always meet new people, 2) build upon existing relationships, and 3) make a positive impact. Joe’s unique path in coupling this degree with his Bachelor’s in Sport and Exercise Psychology, in addition to the “immense amount of knowledge learned and real counseling experiences through JCU,” has been crucial to his development. 


“Assisting all students in finding their aspirations and building upon their foundation by providing a rigorous education, enhancing social skills and personal drive to succeed is what I strive to empower students with,” Joe emphasizes. “This foundation is what John Carroll and my professors have instilled in me.” Joe’s plans after graduation are to move from his current internship position, a career development coordinator at the Auburn Career Center, into a school counseling role.


“This experience, the effort, drive and desire all my professors at John Carroll have shown me has helped shape me into the man I am today.”



Congratulations to the Class of 2024 and “caps off” to all our faculty, staff, and mentors who shared in your journey.


To learn more about the 2024 Commencement Ceremonies, visit our commencement website here.