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At John Carroll University, we are guided by Jesuit values that emphasize academic excellence and cura personalis, the holistic development of each individual. Central to this is the concept of accompaniment, more specifically, the notion of walking with others, pointing to possibilities and pathways, and aiding in the discernment process. This is John Carroll University’s unique ability to emphasize relationships in the classroom, on our campus, and in the community.


While we celebrate the more than 700 students who cross the Commencement stage this weekend, we encourage you to reflect on the power of relationships, some of which are reflected on our campus signage highlighting select graduates and their JCU mentors.


We asked the Class of 2024 to describe how their unique John Carroll experience was shaped not simply by their academic and social pursuits, but also by those who accompanied them. These graduates acknowledged the faculty who ignited their passion for entrepreneurship, business, STEM, health care, and the humanities, advisors who helped them navigate the curriculum, and administrators who have “opened unexpected doors.” 


One thing is certain, no one did it alone.



Melina Mera - Commencement 2024 Spotlight

Melina Mera '24 received two postgraduate scholarships. The psychology major has earned the prestigious Fulbright scholarship for the English Teaching Assistantship. She'll spend the 2024-25 academic year teaching English in the Rioja Region of Spain. 

Following her Fulbright teaching assistantship in Spain, Mera will head to Los Angeles to pursue her passion for social justice. She's completing a year of service through the St. Joseph Worker Program at Homeboy Industries, a gang rehabilitation and re-entry program.

Mera says her psychology professor, Dr. Angie Canda, helped her successfully balance academics, extracurriculars, and postgraduate plans. "As a student, Melina embodies our university mission. She learns. She leads. She serves. She engages meaningfully with all those around her," says Dr. Canda. "As an alum, she will impact the communities in Rioja and Los Angeles and beyond in her professional life after graduate school."



Patrick McGraw - Commencement 2024 Student Spotlight

Patrick McGraw '24 excelled in athletics, academics, and leadership at JCU. He set the men's wrestling school record with 138 wins. He attributes his success to unwavering support from coaches and teammates. 

Dr. Pam Vanderzalm (Dr. V), Professor of Biology, played a crucial role in McGraw's academic journey, mentoring him in scientific research and fostering his pursuit of a medical career. Dr. V believes McGraw has built a firm educational foundation at JCU. "Patrick has been an exemplary research student: inquisitive, dedicated, and a joy to work with," she says. "It's these strengths among others that allow him to do so many things so well. He went all-in on his college experiences and will leave an indelible mark here at JCU."

McGraw's leadership was evident in organizing medical aid trips to Honduras, earning him the 2024 JCU Beaudry Award for exceptional leadership, academics, and service. McGraw plans to work as a medical assistant and MCAT tutor before applying to medical school in 2025, inspired by his experiences aiding those in need.



Mallory Dunlap - Commencement 2024 Student Spotlight

Mallory Dunlap ’24 epitomizes servant leadership through her selfless advocacy for others. The Arrupe scholar has created the JCU Votes Club to boost non-partisan voter registration among college students.

Heather Craigie, Associate Director of the Center for Service-Learning and Social Action, says Dunlap has diligently bolstered civic engagement for JCU students. "Mallory has reinvigorated John Carroll University's culture of student civic engagement and voting through her instrumental work as a Campus Vote Democracy Fellow and President/Founder of a new student organization, JCU Votes."

Dunlap is preparing for a year of impactful service with City Year in Columbia, South Carolina. Her role will involve working closely with elementary students, providing comprehensive support to help them thrive socially, personally, and academically.



Jerry Higgins - Commencement 2024 Student Spotlight

Jerry Higgins III ’24G wanted to accomplish two goals during graduate school: find a research program to prepare him for medical school and contribute to the success of the school's basketball team. John Carroll University empowered Higgins to do both. 

Higgins bonded with his mentor, biology professor Dr. Erin Johnson, in the research lab. He says Dr. Johnson challenged him to expand his research skills. “Dr. Johnson really pushed me out of my comfort zone, sometimes it wasn’t what I thought I needed to hear, but I’ve grown so much from her mentorship,” he says. 

Higgins used his remaining two years of eligibility on the court to lead JCU’s men’s basketball team to two OAC championships. As a team captain, he led the Blue Streaks to the NCAA Division III tournament in both seasons with the team. 




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 graduating class, visit our commencement website here.