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Class of '11 Finishes Climb to Graduation
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Class of '11 Finishes Climb to Graduation

By Christian Taske ’07

More than 170 graduates received their diplomas and three outstanding students were recognized in a special way during Notre Dame College’s 87th commencement on May 14.



The festivities began with a hooding ceremony and baccalaureate liturgy at St. Gregory the Great Church in South Euclid, followed by the commencement ceremony in the Regina Auditorium and a reception in the Murphy Gymnasium.

For the sixth year in a row, the commencement addresses were delivered by three students who received special awards.

Anshawn Ivery received the Sr. Mary Agnes Bosche Award, the highest recognition for an undergraduate student. ElleCita Browning received the St. Catherine of Alexandria Award for her outstanding achievement in the graduate program, her contributions to her profession and her advocacy on behalf of others in the community. Carol Johnson accepted the Sr. Mary LeRoy Finn Award given to an adult student who exhibits academic excellence and leadership qualities.

Citing the life of Sr. Mary Agnes Bosche, the third president of Notre Dame College, Ivery offered three principles for success.

“When tomorrow comes and today’s ceremony is just a memory, we will need to face new challenges and meet new demands,” he said. “Knowing this we must always remember not only to hold our course and find a way but to make a start, think win-win, and cultivate successful habits.”

Anshawn Ivery received the Sr. Mary Agnes Bosche Award.
Anshawn Ivery received the Sr. Mary Agnes Bosche Award.

Ivery graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mild-Moderate Intervention, a reading endorsement and a minor in philosophy. During his time at Notre Dame, he served in multiple admissions and student life capacities. He was treasurer of the Undergraduate Student Government, a student ambassador for admissions, a resident assistant and a board member for the FalconCorps Leadership Council. He also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and worked with the vice president for mission effectiveness in developing the Freshman Seminar.

Ivery is also active in the community as a youth minister and a mentor for the “Teens After God” program. He is a certified leadership coach and as an activist against bullying often gives presentations for teens, parents, college students and teachers. He plans to travel and advocate for students with Autism and Downs Syndrome while helping to bridge educational gaps.

Ivery shared that enthusiasm for education with Browning, who in her speech recalled how her daughter MaKenzie’s reading difficulties inspired her to become a teacher. She then thanked and challenged her fellow master graduates.

“Teachers, I applaud you for going into the field of education in order to make a difference in the lives of boys and girls, young men and young women,” she said. “I applaud you because you make dreams come true. Always nurture and guide the young people whose lives have been entrusted to you. Set the bar high and encourage them to not only meet your expectations but to surpass them.”

ElleCita Browning was recognized as the outstanding graduate in the master's program.
ElleCita Browning was recognized as the outstanding graduate in the master's program.

Browning herself surpassed the expectations of her teachers at Notre Dame. She maintained a 4.0 GPA while pursuing her licensure as a mild moderate intervention specialist and teaching at Euclid Park Elementary School. She decided to become a teacher after working in the insurance industry for 14 years to contribute in a more meaningful way to all members of her community, especially other teachers, parents and children.

Browning has been a campaign coordinator for Charity of Choice and has trained paraprofessionals to serve as reading tutors at Bellefaire School in Cleveland Heights, where she worked as  a substitute teacher for three years. She has both volunteered and student taught at Robert H. Jamison Elementary School in Cleveland.

Browning has also served as the chairperson of the women’s ministry program at Calvary Hill Missionary Baptist Church and volunteered as a Sunday school teacher. In addition, she is a member of a neighborhood group that brings residents together to solve issues in the community.

While Browning stressed her daughter’s successful journey towards becoming a better reader, Johnson in her speech recalled her personal 21-year-long journey at Notre Dame College.

Johnson enrolled in NDC’s Weekend College for working women in 1990 as a single mother of two who worked full-time as an IT professional at Broadview Savings and Loan. She recalled having to make difficult choices between spending time with her boys, answering emergency calls for work, or finishing her homework. She referred to her studies as a “climb” and encouraged her fellow graduates to never give up.

Carol Johnson (right) received the Sr. Mary LeRoy Finn Award.
Carol Johnson (right) received the Sr. Mary LeRoy Finn Award.

“I’d like to encourage you all to keep climbing and never stop reaching for your goals, because that is how you build a strong character and fulfill your life,” Johnson said. “As you all commence into the next phase of your life, please remember your climb isn’t always going to be easy. Take your time to experience all the good there is in life and learn from the struggles there are in the journey.” 

Johnson graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Management. Since 1991, she has held various IT positions at KeyCorp, is a member of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association and holds the professional designations of Certified Information Systems Auditor and Archer Certified Professional.  

Her résumé highlights a number of civic activities including her work as coordinator of the KeyCorp Salvation Army Angel Giving Tree program and site coordinator for KeyCorp’s “Neighbors Make The Difference” annual service activities.

Johnson ended her speech with a few lines from the Miley Cyrus song “The Climb,” which expressed how many of the graduates must have felt on Saturday:

“There's always gonna be another mountain.
I'm always gonna wanna make it move.
Always gonna be an uphill battle
And sometimes I'm gonna have to lose.
It ain't about how fast I get there,
Ain't about what’s waiting on the other side.
It's the climb.”

Christian Taske ’07 is the editor and writer at Notre Dame College.