Class of 2021 Series: Mary Anne Evans

Creating ‘a Bit of an Edge’ As the head of a veterinary externship program, Mary Anne Evans saw how a Manor College education carries a different meaning. Coming out of Manor College in 2006, Mary Anne Evans thought all veterinary technician programs were similar. She worked with animals in her early years at Manor, preparing her for what she’d face in the real world.  It wasn’t until she became the head of the externship program at a veterinary specialist in Malvern that she realized the Manor College program is built differently. “In other programs, they have the lectures and rely heavily on the externships for getting their students hands-on experience,” Evans says. “You get someone from Manor, you know that they know what they’re doing. There’s a bit of an edge.” After working in the veterinary field for nearly two decades, Evans returned to Manor College in 2018 to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary: Science, Mathematics and Engineering. The separation for Manor students stems from the genuine care given to them by faculty at the institution, she said. “I definitely wanted to go back there because I knew I’d get a better education in a smaller setting that worked for me,” Evans said. “The professors are open to different ideas and were really instrumental in guiding me towards the appropriate way to do things.”  Evans found her guiding light with Dr. Julie Senecoff. The professor encouraged her to pursue an Interdisciplinary degree. That led her to Mary Sims, who helped Evans through several introductory law courses.  “I’m used to science classes and here I was taking intro law classes that were outside of my realm,” Evans said, “but Mary, even through email, was very easy to talk to and helped me out so much.” As the sole provider for her three children, Evans returned to Manor to create a better life for them by equipping herself with the right tools to advance in her career.  The pandemic made those goals even more difficult, as Evans now helped them attend school virtually while working and taking her own classes. In May 2021, she officially graduated from Manor College.  “The last year has been really tough, but I knew I had to finish,” Evans said. “The end was there and I just needed to power through.” She believes having clear goals and help from professors like Sims helped her to the finish line.  “It’s going to be tough, but know it’s possible,” Evans said. “You have to utilize your professors. Everyone at Manor wants to see you do well and that’s important. As long as you’re willing to put the work in, you just need to know your goals and you can do it.” Mary Anne Evans is one of several Bachelor’s graduates in the Class of 2021. To find out more about Manor College and how to apply, click here. 

Class of 2021 Series: Amani Butcher

‘Don’t give up’ From homework in the hospital just hours after giving birth to a sleeping toddler on her shoulder at graduation day, Amani Butcher persevered through several challenges in receiving her Manor College degree. Not even 24 hours passed since Amani Butcher gave birth to her son, but the 23-year-old mother found herself back in her books for Manor College. She had homework to finish and knew the professors would appreciate her turning in the work under the circumstances. Two years later, with her son Aaidyn in attendance, Amani received her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the institution.  “There would be times that I would be so tired from motherhood that I couldn’t do anything,” said Amani, now 25. “Every one of the professors I had at Manor took their time with me. They were so compassionate and there for me.” ***  Amani’s mother, Lori Butcher, stood behind her daughter on every step of Amani’s Manor College journey. When Amani began looking at colleges, Lori suggested Manor because of the personal attention the faculty gives to students. When Amani discovered she was pregnant with Aaidyn, Lori became the reassuring presence Amani needed.  “There were times that I was crying, telling myself, ‘I can’t do this,’ and she’d tell me, ‘It’s OK. You can do it. I’m here to talk,’” Amani says. As Amani walked off stage with degree in hand, Lori anxiously waited. With Aaidyn draped over her shoulder and tears in her eyes, Lori walked up to Amani and hugged her. “She knows I’ve been through a lot and it was so amazing,” Amani says. “She wanted to see me happy and live my life to the fullest. She’s seen me evolve into what I am today.” ***  Amani admits there were plenty of times that she could’ve lost sight of her goals and dropped out of school. When those times do come up, she tells others to lean on those closest to you – especially the professors at Manor College.  “Your advisors are there to talk to you and help keep you moving,” Amani says. “Not a lot of schools offer that sort of thing. The professors want to see you do well in life. Students need to know that you can do your best, just don’t give up.” Amani Butcher is one of several Bachelor’s graduates in the Class of 2021.  To find out more about Manor College and how to apply, click here. 

Despite unforeseen obstacles, Manor College students reach ‘finish line’ with 2021 Commencement ceremony

The Manor College 2021 Commencement featured a Drive In format, allowing students to watch and participate in the ceremony while adhering to COVID protocols. Madelyn Rivera thought she found balance in her life. The mother of three managed a job as a healthcare worker while attending a full slate of classes at Manor College.  Then the COVID-19 pandemic took over her life.  “This only added more challenges because I had to move all my classes online along with my two other children,” said Rivera, a student speaker at the 2021 Manor College Commencement ceremony. “Not only was I a full-time student, healthcare worker and mom, but now I’m a full-time teacher to a 7th and 3rd grader.” Due to COVID-19 regulations, Manor College held the 2021 Commencement ceremony as a drive-in event, with students and their families watching the festivities from their vehicles. In total, 124 Manor College students received their diplomas on May 13.  Like her classmates, Rivera persevered through the pandemic’s challenges. She completed her Associate’s degree at Manor as a member of the college’s honor society, graduating with a 3.9 GPA. “To my classmates who turned into forever friends, thank you for sticking with me,” Rivera said. “I don’t know how I would have made it through exams, projects, midterms and finals without you.” The 2021 Commencement speaker was Noe Ortega, Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Education. While he didn’t have a pandemic to push through, Ortega recalled a large senior project that forced him to grind out his final semester of his own college days. “I tell this story to make sure that everyone knows that the finish line is a hard one to get to and you deserve to be applauded for the work that you did,” Ortega said. “Earning these credentials is hard work for everyone, not just yourself, including someone who has the honor of being the Secretary of Education. I struggled to finish my work as well.” In the years since graduating, Ortega noted that there were plenty of moments where life was a grind and he fought the convenient option of quitting. In those moments, he said, is when one’s true character sticks out.  “What will define you is how you respond to these moments in your life and you have to make them count,” Ortega said. “You can persist and you can succeed.” William Rodebaugh, a Philadelphia native, delivered the class speech for Manor College’s Bachelor degree graduates. Rodebaugh came to Manor College as a home-schooled student diagnosed with Autism, but soon found a home at the institution. Rodebaugh started his time at Manor College as the quiet kid listening to Pandora in his earbuds, but after seeing the College’s tagline, “You Belong Here,” the institution became his second home. He began running cross country and track at Manor College, and served as a member of the college’s Student Senate and Campus Activities Board.  He completes his Manor journey as a recipient of the Mother Josaphat Medal. The medal is awarded to one student per year who exhibits a responsible lifestyle, evidenced through reverence, respect and service to the community at Manor College and beyond. While GPA is not the primary contributor to the award, Rodebaugh graduated with a 4.0 GPA from the college.  “Manor College is not just a College, it is so much more than that,” he said. “It is a home and everyone here — students, staff and professors — are family to me. I get so proud every time I walk into the doors of Manor knowing that I found a place I belong and that I have so many people that care for me.” Congratulations to all 124 graduating students from the Manor College Class of 2021!  

Manor College announces 2021 Commencement Speaker – Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Education, Noe Ortega

The Manor College 2021 Commencement is set for Thursday, May 13, 2021 at 1:00pm in Manor’s Parking Lot as a Drive In formatted ceremony  On Thursday, May 13, 2021, the graduating class of 2021 will drive into campus and attend a uniquely styled and meaningful Drive In Commencement ceremony at Manor College, surrounded by family, friends, faculty, staff and alumni. 100+ students, who have demonstrated their competence and excellence through hard work, dedication and resilience, will receive their long-awaited Bachelor degrees in Arts and Sciences, and Associate degrees in Arts and Sciences. Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Education, Noe Ortega, is this year’s commencement speaker. Raised in Robstown, Texas, Secretary Ortega is a lifelong educator, higher education professional and colleague to Manor College. Prior to his appointment, he served as the Deputy Secretary and Commissioner for the Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. As Deputy Secretary and Commissioner, he led the work of the agency aimed at closing the postsecondary attainment gaps that have persisted among historically underrepresented populations and communities of color in Pennsylvania. “Secretary Ortega understands how higher education and its challenges, such as access and affordability, impact students disparately” said Manor College’s President Jonathan Peri, “Thanks to his research, his action and his leadership, Pennsylvania’s schools across the board are becoming more equitable every day.  We are blessed that he will be our commencement speaker for 2021.” Prior to his work as Deputy Secretary and Commissioner for Higher Education, Secretary Ortega spent eight years at the University of Michigan, where he held several academic and administrative roles. During his tenure he worked as the Assistant Director and Senior Research Associate at the National Center for Institutional Diversity and as the Managing Director for the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good. Though most of his research focused on postsecondary access and success for all students, his most recent publications examine how public investment in higher education influences decision-making at colleges and universities. Additionally, Secretary Ortega spent nearly a decade working in the areas of financial aid and enrollment management at both public and private universities in Texas, and he also served as a P-16 Specialist for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Secretary Ortega also spent nearly seven years as director of a language institute in Japan where he trained teachers in the area of early childhood language acquisition. “I am honored for the opportunity to address Manor College’s class of 2021 as the commencement speaker and to help celebrate this incredible milestone,” said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “Each student has worked very hard to get to this day, and they have a lot to be proud of as they pursue their unique paths ahead. I look forward to joining them, their families, and the campus community in recognition of this special occasion.” Manor College welcomes Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Education, Noe Ortega, as its 2021 Commencement speaker, and is looking forward to hearing his thoughtful remarks to the Manor graduates. For more information about the 2021 Manor College Commencement ceremony please visit:

Ukrainian Dialogue Series – Most Successful Dialogue Yet

“The strength of Ukraine lies in the new generation, and we look to the future,” said former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, Roman Popadiuk, who moderated the latest Manor College Ukrainian Dialogue Series last month. This was the tenth program in the series presented by the Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union, and it was its most successful. More than 250 signed up for the program and there was an audience of nearly 150 tuning in online.  “An entire generation of new Ukrainian officers rose to the occasion of new offensives against aggression, and they defended their country with great initiative,” says Dr. Phil Karber, President of the Potomac Foundation who conducted more than two dozen visits to combat zones in the Ukraine. He detailed a recent campaign that placed Ukraine in the heart of a battle well fought by the new generation of army soldiers. He told accounts of fighting that went on for a long time which included one of the longest brigades in military history.  U.S. General (Ret.) Clark presented during the dialogue and said, “Ukraine is one of the fundamental issues today. Right now, tonight in Ukraine, the Russian and separatists forces have been mobilized. It’s a threat, and there are countries playing an ambivalent role. On the political side, President Zelenskyy is trying to bring diplomacy and unity, so his administration is complicated and pulling in many different directions. I believe time is on the President’s side and Ukrainine people. U.S. President Joe Biden understands the position of Ukraine in the west. We need to support Ukrainie and strengthen their democratic process.” General Havrylov, former Defense Attache of Ukraine also spoke. “In February 2014, the Ukrainian people woke up with most of its leaders gone. People from all sides moved to protect the county. There was one business professional I know who was a successful in his city, but when he saw the events of February 2014, he decided to volunteer and support. They didn’t realize our resolve. We need to be owners of our destiny. The contribution of our European and U.S. partners is crucial.”  Ayla Bakkalli, Executive Member of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars, asid,  We understand the lay of the Ukrainian land. To understand the occupation of Crimeia, we only need to look at the lay of the land. The peninsula is one of the most critical positions surrounded by water, and it is in the middle of the EU nations. The post-soviet fault line runs through Ukrainie and lands in Crimea. There are human rights issues to the occupation. As Crimea becomes more isolated, outsiders think it’s quiet but it is not. It is in fact filled with the fear, disappearances, murders that are the reality. Freedom of thought, conscious religion is all disruptive.  Bakkalli remembers meeting former U.S. President George W Bush. “I mentioned I was a Crimean Tatar… and that we were developing into a democracy. One of his comments he made to me has stayed with me. He asked rhetorically, ‘Where is the heartland of Russia?’ What I wanted to answer is, “The heartland of Russia is not Ukraine.” Karber reminded the audience that sanctions are not uniform–some work on individuals, some companies, so there isn’t a unified approach. When there is not uniformity, there is no depth to the sanctions. We’ve tried sanctions, but we’ve tried them and there is no evidence that it worked. It’s time we wake up and realize Russia is using military instruments as it’s currency of power. The real challenge is the Ukraine air force, which needs to be modernized. That won’t happen without external help.” The Ukrainian Dialogue Series was made possible by the support of the Ukrainian Selfreliance Federal Credit Union headquartered in Feasterville, PA. “For more than half of the attendees, this was their first program they attended,” says Dr. Jonathan Peri, President of Manor College. “We are hoping to expand our outreach with this event and bring it across the globe to bring its many critical issues to light.”