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Lourdes Zander Epps Zander Epps of San Diego jumps as he crosses the stage to receive his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies during Lourdes University’s commencement ceremony.
Zander Epps of San Diego jumps as he crosses the stage to receive his bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies during Lourdes University’s commencement ceremony.
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Published: Sunday, 5/19/2013

Lourdes graduates leap into future in commencement at SeaGate

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Family members and friends beamed as graduating Lourdes University students received their diplomas Saturday at SeaGate Convention Centre.

Bianca Bryant of Toledo receives her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the SeaGate Convention Centre. Bianca Bryant of Toledo receives her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the SeaGate Convention Centre.
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After four sometimes long years, Melissa Pietrzak, 34, of Sylvania took in hand her bachelor of science degree in nursing — to the cheers of her husband and son, Brian, 35, and Rickie, 10.

“He was very proud,” Mr. Pietrzak said of their son. “It was pretty cool.”

Family from California and Kansas came to support Zander Epps, 22, as he received a bachelor of arts degree in interdisciplinary studies.

“It was an amazing feeling,” said Mr. Epps, who was recruited two years ago from San Diego City College to play volleyball for the Sylvania-based university.

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In all, Lourdes awarded associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees to 456 graduates, including master’s degrees in business administration, organizational leadership, liberal studies, nursing, and education, said Heather Hoffman, university spokesman.

Mrs. Pietrzak and family celebrated with a post-commencement meal, but it’s back to class on Monday, when she begins studies toward a master’s degree in nursing.

She also is in Lourdes’ nursing residency program and works at Flower Hospital.

She has been a fitness instructor and a licensed practical nurse at Flower and Toledo hospitals.

Janenne Marcus, of Monclova Township, center, clutches her degree as she and other recent graduates pass two lines of clapping faculty after the Lourdes University commencement. Janenne Marcus, of Monclova Township, center, clutches her degree as she and other recent graduates pass two lines of clapping faculty after the Lourdes University commencement.
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“I knew I liked helping people,” she said. Nursing degrees allow flexibility, she added, with possible specialities from critical care and law to teaching and administration. “And I can go anywhere in the nation and still have a job.

“Walking across [the stage] and seeing all the teachers who were alumni was, like, ‘I finally made it,’ ” she said. “All those nights I didn’t sleep and had study groups, it paid off.”

Mr. Epps, whose degree concentration was social science, plans to take time off to research graduate schools for a degree in higher education. He would like to work at a university in admissions or student life, and he can imagine settling in northwest Ohio.

Brian Pietrzak of Sylvania has a word with his son, Rickie, 10, right, as they wait for Rickie's mother, Melissa, to accept her diploma in nursing. Brian Pietrzak of Sylvania has a word with his son, Rickie, 10, right, as they wait for Rickie's mother, Melissa, to accept her diploma in nursing.
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“It was quite an experience going from San Diego, coming out here. It’s a whole different lifestyle,” Mr. Epps said. “The people are a lot nicer and a lot easier to talk to out here.”

A graduating senior in business, Jonathan Van Zile, was the student speaker for the ceremony.

Sister Jane Mary Sorosiak, who established Lourdes’ associate of arts program and helped it develop into a four-year degree program, spoke after receiving an honorary doctorate. Sister Jane Mary, an artist who is known for her ceramic murals, taught art history, drawing, calligraphy, painting, and sculpture at Lourdes. She was one of four Sylvania Sisters of St. Francis to teach at Cardinal Stritch High School in Oregon when it opened in 1961.

Delivering the commencement address was Albert Stroucken, chairman and chief executive of Owens-Illinois. He also received an honorary doctorate.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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