Villanova Prep celebrates 2021 graduates

The class of 2021 hails from eight different countries.

Villanova Preparatory School graduated the 94th class in the school’s history on Saturday, May 29 at 4 p.m at the Grotto of Our Mother of Good Counsel on Villanova’s campus. The 55 young men and women of the class of 2021 were joined by the Villanova faculty as well as their families to celebrate their accomplishments. The ceremony was presided over by the Very Reverend Gary Sanders, OSA (Order of Saint Augustine), Prior Provincial for the Province of St. Augustine in California. Mr. Brian Roney, Assistant Headmaster for Academics, served as Master of Ceremonies and welcomed the graduates and their families. The graduation was also broadcast live on Zoom so that international students and their families could watch the ceremony live from their home countries.

The ceremony consisted of opening remarks from Headmaster Brian Grisin, followed by a student address by class Salutatorian Jakob Pinedo of Oxnard. Jakob spoke of the challenges the class of 2021 has faced, from the Thomas Fire in their freshman year to the pandemic in their senior year, and how these challenges taught them to rely on each other. Jakob will attend the University of California, Santa Barbara in the fall.

The attendees enjoyed musical interludes performed by graduates Kimberly Shih of Kowloon, Hong Kong, Gabriela Magallanes of Redwood City, California, Keanu Ramirez of Camarillo, and Julia Reed of Oxnard.

The valedictory addresses were given by co-Valedictorians Zhiwo (Suzy) Xu of Jiangsu, China and Yiwen (Bruce) Zhang of Heilongjiang, China. Suzy delivered her address in-person and Bruce delivered his via video as he was not able to be present at the ceremony. Suzy encouraged her classmates to not put their lives on hold, but to seize the moment, even if it is a difficult one. Bruce extolled his classmates to work hard and to not wait for good things to happen to you. Both Suzy and Bruce will attend the University of California, Los Angeles in the fall.

The commencement address was given by alumna Laura Eloyon ‘01 who is the Deputy Branch Chief for Emergency Response and Recovery at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Ms. Eloyan holds her B.A. from Boston University and an MBA from Duquesne University. She spoke to the graduates about her time in the Peace Corps. and her work at the CDC. She spoke about her work in this last year at the CDC and how unexpected events are often the things that teach us the most in life.

The students dressed in navy-blue graduation gowns and were called one by one to receive their diplomas from Prior Provincial Fr. Gary Sanders, Headmaster Brian Grisin, and Director of Mission Fr. Barnaby Johns, OSA. Students unable to attend had their name and hometown read and their diplomas mailed to them.

The ceremony concluded with a benediction from Very Rev. Gary Sanders and a singing of the alma mater. The class of 2021 hails from eight different countries and will go on to attend 35 different Universities and Colleges.

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