VE MARIA, Fla. (May 6, 2017) — The families, friends and graduates of the class of 2017 at Ave Maria University celebrated the school’s 13th commencement with the largest graduating class in their history today. 232 graduates received their diplomas: 217 undergraduate degrees, 13 master’s degrees, and 2 doctorate degrees. The class of 2017 included the first graduates of Ave Maria’s nursing program.
President’s Award winner Michael O’Donnell is congratulated by President Jim Towey at Ave Maria University’s 13th commencement ceremony.
The commencement speaker was Mr. Daniel D’Aniello who was recognized by Ave Maria University with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his exemplary life as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, philanthropist, and Catholic layman. Dan D’Aniello was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania , raised by a single mother, and started working at the age of nine as a stock boy at his uncle’s produce market. He subsequently worked his way through college at Syracuse University where he graduated at the top of the Business School. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the time of the Vietnam War, served on the U.S.S. Wasp, and had four major deployments during his time of service. Last year, D’Aniello received the Lone Sailor Award from the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation. D’Aniello placed his MBA from Harvard Business School in the service of successful stints at TWA, Pepsico, and Marriott International before co-founding The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset management firm, in 1987. Carlyle currently has offices in 20 countries spanning six continents and manages $169 billion of assets across its portfolio of funds.
Mr. D’Aniello encouraged the graduates to be strong persons of faith “Most all of you will be leaving this nurturing faith-based community to find your place in the world. And in this day and age, you’ll find that it’s not so easy being a person of faith in the dispassionate secular world we live in. As a graduate of Ave Maria University, however, you’ve not only received a top flight education in the field of your choice, but you’ve also received a strong faith-based formation. You not only can succeed professionally, but as importantly, if not more so, you are well-prepared to live your faith as an example to others.” He further exhorted the class of 2017 “If I leave you with one thought on this graduation day, it would be this: I hope you will find ways to turn your appreciation for what has been given to you into an inspiration toward helping others – including family and friends, your communities of faith and, of course, the poor in corporal needs and the poor in spirit. In the end, our personal relationships are the most important thing we have in this world, and none more important than our relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Ave Maria University is a Catholic, liberal arts institution of higher learning devoted to Mary the Mother of God, inspired by St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Calcutta, and dedicated to the formation of joyful, intentional followers of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship and service. The University was founded in 2003 and moved to its permanent campus in the fall of 2007. Ave Maria enrolled 1,102 students for the 2016-17 academic year, including 1,042 undergraduates, and offers 33 majors as well as graduate studies in Theology. Students from 45 states and 20 countries comprise a student body that is approximately 85% Catholic, 25% minority, and evenly-divided between men and women. AMU’s state-of-the-art campus includes residence halls with a capacity for 1,300 students and rests on a tract of over 300 acres in Southwest Florida near Naples.