It’s always a pleasure to honor Niagara University students for their academic, community service, and leadership achievements, which the annual College of Arts & Sciences Day of Recognition has done since it was initiated in 1981 by the Rev. Joseph Levesque, C.M., then dean of the college.
But this year’s event, held Friday, May 13, in the university’s Gallagher Center, was especially poignant because of a special presentation for a non-traditional student. Madeleine Kates, who was recognized with awards for Outstanding Achievement in Biology and for Honors in Psychology, was also presented with her bachelor of arts degree as a triple major in life science, psychology, and environmental science.
Because the Williamsville native is physically unable to attend a lengthy commencement ceremony, the Rev. James Maher, Niagara University president, conferred her degree during the recognition ceremony.
“For the better part of her time here as an undergrad, Madeleine has been fully online … due to a serious medical accident that occurred midway through her senior year of high school. While it left her unable to participate in normal college activities and in-person classes, it didn’t extinguish her dream of going to college and earning a degree,” said Dr. Timothy Ireland, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.
“In addition, she has applied what she has learned here at NU outside of the classroom to make a difference in the lives of others, including developing a medical device for which she has a patent pending, working tirelessly at the start of COVID to make hundreds of cloth masks for charitable organizations throughout the region, and writing and editing medical content for a monthly health and wellness magazine and medical manuscripts,” he continued. “She did all of this while still achieving grades that earned her membership in three different academic honor societies: Delta Epsilon Sigma (the national scholastic honor society for students at Catholic universities); Beta Beta Beta (Biology Honor Society); and Psi Chi (Psychology Honor Society).”
The degree presentation concluded a ceremony that honored students from across the college’s 25 academic departments, as well as several faculty members. Those recognized this year included Dr. Yonghong Tong, associate professor in computer and information sciences, who received the Faculty Excellence in Service Award; Dr. Stefanie Wichhart, professor of history, who received the Faculty Excellence in Scholarship Award; Dr. William Martin, associate professor of English, who received the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching (full-time); and Dr. Hope Russell, adjunct professor of women’s studies, who received the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching (part time).
The list of student-awardees can be accessed by clicking here.