Students at Commencement in Freedom Hall

Great Grads

Great Grads, Spring 2022

Great Grads 2022

Per tradition, Bellarmine is celebrating the countless successes of its graduating class with a host of events, activities and commencement ceremonies.

The university will award 895 degrees: 587 undergraduate and 308 graduate or doctoral. Forty military-affiliated students will receive degrees as well, the largest number in Bellarmine’s history.

Our great grads represent a cross-section of the many accomplishments, backgrounds, majors, stories and interests of our diverse student body. The Bellarmine community shares their hopes and dreams. We wish them -- and the entire class of 2022 -- the very best in the future. 


Kamryn Horne

Kamryn Horne

Major: Communications

Student Involvement: Pioneer Scholar Mentor, Student Government Association, Registered Student Organization Affairs, Bellarmine Activities Council, Week of Welcome Team, Student Ambassador

What are your plans after you graduate? I am going to Florida to participate in the Disney College Program from June to January. I plan to begin my Master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs in the Fall of 2023 so I can pursue a career in student activities at a university.

What will you remember best about your time at BU? There are so many things that were amazing during my Bellarmine experience. But one simple answer would have to be the Bellarmine community. It is big enough that it does not feel like high school, yet small enough that you can be seen and heard. I have so many people within the Bellarmine community, whether it is students or faculty, who are constantly there as a support system. There will always be someone in your corner who believes in you and is rooting for you. I do not think I can walk through the Quad without someone saying “Hi!” or simply stopping to talk with a bunch of students.


Sawyer Biven 

Sawyer Biven

Major:  Nursing and Military Science through the ROTC program

Student Involvement: Student Government Association, President of BUSVA (Bellarmine University Student Veteran's Association), Vice President of BANS (Bellarmine Association of Nursing Students) and a member of Sigma Theta Tau Nursing Honor Society

What are your plans after you graduate? I am on track to commission as an Active Duty Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, where I will pursue a track in Critical Care Nursing. I look forward to serving others and my country while I work to become the best nurse that I can be. In time, I hope to become a higher-level provider within my field.

What will you remember best about your time at BU? The friendships I developed through my campus involvement and the mentorship I received from the outstanding faculty I had the privilege to be taught by. Most of all though, I’ll remember meeting my fiancé and soon to be wife, whom I met here at Bellarmine. Her name is Hanna M. Warren and she graduated with an Exercise Science degree last fall.


Maray Estacholi Veliz 

Maray Estacholi Veliz poses in front of the Bellarmine trolley

Major: Exercise Science 

About Me: I'm from Cuba. I came to the U.S. ten years ago and I hope my graduation motivates my friends, family and community to achieve their dreams. 

What are your plans after you graduate? I plan to get a master's in Public Health or Exercise Physiology. I believe that exercise is medicine. My way to help others is by teaching them how to improve their health and quality of life through exercise. One of my goals is to inspire and create awareness in our community about the benefits of staying physically active.

What will you remember best about your time at BU? I transferred to Bellarmine for the school's reputation and the professionalism and attention I got during my interviews and school application. I'm glad to say I made the best decision and I feel so blessed on my path. I'm thankful to all my professors and advisors for their help. 


Seth Kelly

Seth Kelly

Major: Communication/Theatre double major

Student Involvement: I was the president of Alpha Psi Omega, on the leadership team of Week of Welcome, the leadership team of Pioneer Scholars, a student Ambassador, a Knight U leader and I serve in the Bellarmine Society. 

What are your plans after you graduate? After graduation I am headed to Orlando to participate in my second Disney College Program. I also plan to pursue a master’s degree in higher education. 

What will you remember best about your time at BU? I will remember the theatre department best. I met the best people and produced beautiful art over the past four year, including my senior capstone which I produced and starred in. I would also like to give a special shout out to the Week of Welcome team! 


Sarah Downs

Sarah Downs

Major: Biology Pre-medical track

Student Involvement: Bellarmine Activities Council (PR chair), Bellarmine Ambassador (PR and recruitment chair), Bellarmine University Dance Marathon (Entertainment chair), Pre-Medical Society (Director of Networking), Biology Club, Week of Welcome Team, Bellarmine Leadership Institute, Timmy Global Health and Student Government Association

What are your plans after you graduate? I plan to attend the University of Louisville School of Medicine and hope to specialize in dermatology.   

What will you remember best about your time at BU? I will remember the hospitality of EVERYONE, professors, students, faculty and staff. I cannot imagine going through college without the support system Bellarmine has given me. I know each and every one of my mentors and peers here at Bellarmine will continue to be an important part of my life. No school can compare to the special treatment Bellarmine gives to its entire student body, not to mention the words of wisdom and inspiration I have gained from each of these people.


Gapala Mandela

Gapala Mandela

Major: Foreign Languages and International Studies

About Me: I work full-time at Kentucky Refugee Ministries helping refugees and immigrants find jobs. I am from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); I moved to the U.S. in 2017 through the refugee resettlement program. My sister and I were the first generation of our family to graduate from college. I have applied for American citizenship and I’m awaiting my interview. I am passionate about working with refugee and immigrant communities because I understand their struggle. I know they are people like me and have dreams and ambitions, but they don’t know where to begin with so many barriers, including language. Many of these people were forced to leave their home country and when I work with them, I know I am helping to rebuild their lives by providing some social services they need. Also, I’m helping them to feel included in this new community. Sometimes, all they want is a listening ear and for someone to share hope and light.

What are your plans after you graduate? Take the knowledge and experience I learned and apply them to a position focused on empowering the global community.

What will you remember best about your time at BU? There is a lot that I will remember about Bellarmine, but what stands out the most is the kindness and generosity of the staff and students.


Rhianna Clemons

Rhianna Clemons

Major: Environmental Science and Political Science double major

Student Involvement: Environmental Chair for SGA, Secretary for Leading Women of Tomorrow and President of Pi Sigma Alpha (the political science honors society). I am also the co-chair of Bellarmine University's Sustainability Committee and a member of the Honors Program.

What are your plans after you graduate? I am looking at research-based marine biology jobs that are either in labs or at sea. Ultimately, I would like to get a Ph.D. in Marine Biology or Biological Oceanography.

What will you remember best about your time at BU? I will remember best the connections and friendships that I have made during my time at Bellarmine. Every step of the way I knew that I had amazing friends and faculty behind me. I truly would not have accomplished all that I did without the support and guidance from these connections. With the help of these wonderful individuals, I was able to develop and hone a variety of different skills, be selected for a NASA internship, rediscover my love for marine biology and have fun along the way.


Jonathan S. Robbins

Jonathan S. RobbinsMajor: Early entry MBA with an emphasis in Analytics

Student Involvement: United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) All-American Scholar on the Knights Lacrosse team, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)

What are your plans after you graduate? I am seeking a position in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area (my hometown).

What will you remember best about your time at BU? The sense of community at Bellarmine is something I will always remember. Bellarmine has provided me with the best group of lifelong friends that I could have ever hoped for.


Kailee Vittitow

Kailee Vittitow

Major: Elementary Education, Learning and Behavior Disorders

Student Involvement: President of Kappa Delta Pi and the Bellarmine Student Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children, member of Omicron Delta Kappa

What are your plans after you graduate? After I graduate, I plan to find a job as a teacher in Jefferson County Public Schools. I am hoping to teach 2nd or 3rd grade, but I am open to any grade to start! I also hope to begin graduate school possibly in my second year of teaching.

What will you remember best about your time at BU? When I think back on my time at Bellarmine, I will best remember all the opportunities that were presented to me. I was able to observe various schools in the surrounding area, work closely with staff in the School of Education through work study, plan service projects as a Registered Student Organization (RSO) leader, and many other things. Because of these opportunities, I was also able to win mini grants for the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and I was awarded the Student of the Year Award through the CEC in 2021. Bellarmine has a myriad of opportunities and they allowed me to learn a great deal about my strengths and weaknesses as both a student and a leader.


Kathy Spangler

Kathy Spangler

Degree: Doctor of Nursing Practice (she also has a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Bellarmine)

What are you planning to do with your DNP? After serving more than 26 years in the U.S. Army as a nurse, this DNP has enhanced my ability to navigate the complex medical system. I refer to the knowledge, skills, and attributes I attained at Bellarmine through the DNP program on a daily basis, which helps me continue to serve in executive leadership roles within military medicine. Currently I am the Director/CEO of Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, the largest community hospital within the Department of Defense.

What will you remember best about your time at Bellarmine? The faculty who went above and beyond to teach us all during a global pandemic, especially Dr. Barbara Jackson and Dr. Heather Owens. Overall, Bellarmine has been a caring and military-friendly university and I am very proud to have started my nursing journey there in 1992 and culminated with my DNP in 2022. This degree continues to fuel my passion for improving 

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About Bellarmine University

Bellarmine University is a vibrant community of educational excellence and ethical awareness that consistently ranks among the nation’s best colleges and universities. Our students pursue an education based in the liberal arts – and in the distinguished, inclusive Catholic tradition of educational excellence, the oldest and most rewarding in the western world. It is a lifelong education, worthy of the university’s namesake, Saint Robert Bellarmine, and of his invitation to each of us to learn and live In Veritatis Amore – in the love of all that is beautiful, true and good in life.