Undergraduate commencement speaker chosen

Published: April 14, 2016

 

SISTER MARY Scullion, R.S.M., speaks at the University of Notre Dame as the undergraduate commencement speaker in 2011.

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / SISTER MARY Scullion, R.S.M., speaks at the University of Notre Dame as the undergraduate commencement speaker in 2011.

KELLY ROSS
Staff Writer

Sister Mary Scullion, R.S.M., will serve as The University’s class of 2016 commencement speaker at graduation May 29.

Scullion is the co-founder, executive director and president of the nationally recognized Project Housing, Opportunities for Employment, Medical Care, Education (HOME).

In 2009, Time Magazine named Scullion one of 100 people who “most affect our world,” according to the Time’s website, in their annual “Times 100” issue. Other recipients include President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt. Scullion’s Time Magazine profile noted her accomplishments through her work with HOME.

According to the profile, “More than 95% of those who cycle through their Project HOME … have never again returned to life on the streets.”

In a statement provided by Director of News and Media Relations Stan Zygmunt, the Rev. Dr. Kevin Quinn, S.J., president of The University, said Scullion’s experience from her long-term commitment to helping the poor and people with mental illness will be beneficial to the audience.

“Sister Mary has dedicated nearly 40 years of her life to caring for and advocating on behalf of the homeless, the poor and those suffering from mental illness,” Quinn said. “Students and our guests can learn well from her wisdom and virtue. We are grateful to have her as our principal speaker.”

Lauren Loebell, a University senior and strategic communications major, said she is happy that Scullion is a person who embodies the Jesuit morals The University teaches.

“I kind of came to Scranton without knowing much about the Jesuit tradition or any of those ideals, and I think having somebody with a lot of integrity and such a past with service in the community is going to be a really fantastic experience,” Loebell said.

Loebell said The University has tried to have students use practicality in unique situations over her years as a student, something she said she thinks Scullion embodies.

“The University has pushed (us) to do whatever (we) can to help the greater community,” she said.

Scullion’s work with Project HOME is an example of those Jesuit ideals in action, Loebell pointed out.

Based in Philadelphia, Project HOME attempts to stop cyclical homelessness by providing support to the homeless and people with low incomes.

Since its start in 1989, the organization has grown from one emergency winter shelter to more than 700 housing units. The organization also owns three businesses that employ formerly homeless persons and the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs for educational and occupational programming.

According to the Project HOME website, the mission of the project is to enable people of all ages to break through the cycle of poverty and to reach their fullest potential. Project HOME achieves this by trying to create a safe and supportive environment.

“None of us are home until all of us are home,” the website reads.

Prior to her work with Project HOME, Scullion co-founded Women of Hope in 1985, which provides residence and support for homeless, mentally ill women and in 1988 founded the nation’s first Outreach Coordination Center.

According to a press release distributed by The University, Scullion has received multiple honors and awards for her work, including the 2011 Citizen of the Year by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Eisenhower Fellowship in 2002 and the Distinguished Alumnus Eisenhower Award in 2010. Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon, co-founder of Project HOME, received the Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame in 2011.

Scullion works on the Board of Trustees of St. Joseph’s University; the Board of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and Chaired the Hunger and Homelessness Committee for Pope Francis’s visit to Philadelphia in 2015, the press release noted.

The University’s commencement will be held May 29 in the the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre.

AQUINAS PHOTO / KAYLA SHEA / THE REV. Dr. Kevin Quinn, S.J., hands out diplomas at the undergraduate graduation ceremony last year, which featured The Rev. Dr. Scott Pilarz, S.J., as the commencement speaker, at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre.

AQUINAS PHOTO / KAYLA SHEA / THE REV. Dr. Kevin Quinn, S.J., hands out diplomas at the undergraduate graduation ceremony last year, which featured The Rev. Dr. Scott Pilarz, S.J., as the commencement speaker, at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre.

Contact the writer: kelly.ross@scranton.edu

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