On Friday, January 29, 2021, Manor College held its 18th annual Founders’ Day. This tradition consists of a two-day celebration that honors the College’s founders, the Sisters of Saint Basil the Great.
While the ceremony took a virtual format this year, the same energy and sense of community was present. The festivities kicked off on Thursday, January 28, with a virtual Tea with the Sisters. This component of Founders’ Day started several years ago as a way to show appreciation to the Sisters of Saint Basil the Great. Members of the College’s faculty, staff and students struck up conversation with the sisters. A trivia game was played while everyone enjoyed peppermint tea provided by the Student Affairs team.
The pinnacle of the festivities was the Founders’ Day Livestream celebration on Friday, January 29. Nicholas Rudnytzky served as the master of ceremonies. One of the many highlights of the ceremony was the keynote speech, delivered by Jane Zegestowsky, a former Associate Dean and faculty member of the College. Zegestowsky gave a heartfelt speech about Manor’s mission of service to the community. She stated, “Meeting students where they are is what makes the work we do so special.”
Each year on Founders’ day, two prestigious awards are given out — the Mother Josaphat Medal and the Educator of the Year. The Mother Josaphat Medal is given out to a student who demonstrates strength of character and generosity of spirit. Students are nominated by faculty and staff members. The Educator of the Year is given to a professor whose dedication and commitment go beyond the classroom. This student nominated award honors the selected faculty member who received the most votes.
This year’s Mother Josaphat Medal winner is Riley Stone, an Early Childhood Education student pursuing her associate’s degree. Stone is an active member of the Early Childhood Education and Rotaract clubs. She suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was younger which has not deterred her from achieving her goals. Riley runs a small charity that she calls “Funds for Families.” She makes keychains, sells them, and then purchases gift cards that social workers distribute at the Ronald McDonald House to families in need. Riley recently supported a girl who needed a diabetic alert dog and a baby with leukemia.
Stone stated, “I am both humbled and honored to be awarded this medal. To be recognized alongside my fellow classmates, is an honor and I extend my congratulations to the other finalists.”
Dr. Stephanie Marks, Program Director of Veterinary Technology, is the recipient of the Educator of the Year award. Over 55 nominations were submitted for this award.
Some of the sentiments about Dr. Marks were:
“She makes me feel safe and motivated.”
“She has always been there for me even if I emailed her over 20 times a day.”
“She teaches with passion and that is what is needed for a great professor.”
Dr. Marks commented, “I am honored to have been chosen by the students for this great award. I started my career with the goal of caring for animals, and I now have found my home in helping students reach their goals in Veterinary Technology. I would like to thank my students, my co-workers, the administration and my family for supporting me through such a difficult year. I am blessed to have you all in my life.”
This year marked the first time the Sister Cecilia Award was given to the winner and finalists of the Mother Josaphat Medal. The award was provided by a very generous gift from Leonard and Helena Mazur, who wanted to honor Sister Cecila’s memory in a lasting way. Sister Cecilia, former President of the College who served for several decades, passed away on November 5, 2020. For years to come, Mother Josaphat Medal winners and finalists will receive an award from this very special and distinctive fund. “We cannot thank the Mazurs enough, says Dr. Peri, for their generosity and ongoing support of Manor College and an endearing tribute to Sister Cecilia.”
The virtual ceremony ended with a video tribute to Sister Cecilia. Members of the community—faculty, staff, friends, alumni and more—submitted tributes to express their love for Sister Cecilia. So many of these testimonies spoke of Sr. Cecilia as being a true friend and inspiring leader. She was a remarkable person, and we are thankful to have grown under her compassionate and unwavering leadership for so many years.
The full Founders’ Day ceremony can be watched here.