2023 graduate with parents

Great Grads

Great Grads, Spring 2024

Great Grads 2024

Bellarmine is celebrating the successes of its graduating class with a host of events, activities and commencement ceremonies.  The university will award approximately 850 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees on May 11 at Freedom Hall.  Our Great Grads represent a cross-section of the many accomplishments, backgrounds, majors, stories and interests of our diverse student body. We wish them—and the entire Class of 2024—the very best.


Carissa Gettelfinger

Carissa GettelfingerHometown: Salem, IN
Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing 
Career plans: NICU Nurse at Norton Children's Hospital 
BU activities/honors: Norton Scholar and Lansing Scholar
Why Bellarmine? My cousin and my sister are both Bellarmine Nursing graduates and I had heard first-hand how amazing this nursing program is. I couldn’t wait to experience the wide range of clinicals that Bellarmine had arranged.
How would you describe your BU experience? Completing a BSN degree in only one year was extremely stressful, as I expected, but the teachers and staff were so supportive and encouraging. They were always available if we needed help with anything and truly wanted to see us succeed. This isn't always the case with school staff, and I don't think I would have made it this far without their help both inside and outside of the classroom.
What made your student experience unique? Thanks to Bellarmine's partnership with Norton and my becoming a Norton Scholar, I was able to spend several clinical days in the NICU at Norton’s Childrens Hospital, which isn’t an option at most nursing schools. It was this experience that made me decide to work in the Norton Children's Hospital NICU after graduation.
What did you like best about your field of study? I got to see the healthcare field from so many different angles. There are so many things you can do with a nursing degree, and I can't wait to use mine to help patients and their families in the NICU.

Mikayla Pitmon

Mikayla PitmonHometown: Louisville
Biology major, Biochemistry minor, pre-medical track
Career plans: Physician in community health
BU activities/honors: Student Government Association, Office of Identity and Inclusion, Residence Life, Multicultural Interfaith Alliance, Black Student Union
Internships or work experience: Student Assistant for Partnerships and Outreach in the Center for Community Engagement, Research Training Program through San Diego State University and the National Institutes of Health, Summer Health Professions Education Program
Why Bellarmine? The small class sizes and relationships I knew I'd be able to build with faculty, staff and other students
How was your Bellarmine experience? Incredibly stressful, but also incredibly rewarding. Navigating new challenges has made me a stronger leader, student and human. I will always be grateful for the relationships I have gained here, especially in the Office of Identity and Inclusion and the Biology Department.  

What made your student experience unique? Having the opportunity to be so connected with administration and having my feedback brought to the table 


Caleb Mathis

Caleb MathisHometown: Finchville, KY
Biology (B.S.) major, Biochemistry minor
Career plans: Medical school to be a physician
BU activities/honors: WOW (Week of Welcome), KnightU, Ambassadors, Hallhosts/Tour Guide, BUDM, SGA, Biology Club, Pre-Med Society, Bellarmine Influencers, peer coaching
Why Bellarmine? The friends, family and mentors that made me fall in love with the college experience. I’ve never felt so much love in a place before.
How would you describe your BU experience? Filled with hopes, dreams and goals that were fulfilled with help from everyone here. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive group. Everything here has so much energy and fun put into it, and if you get involved, you’ll get back everything you give 10 times over. 
What made your student experience unique? Being involved as much as I am in leadership positions, having the unique opportunity to work right alongside both staff and other students has helped me not only grow, but also develop friendships everywhere.
What did you like best about your field of study? The unique classes and programs that Bellarmine has provide in-depth learning that looks so much better for grad school applications. A degree from Bellarmine comes with deeper knowledge and possibilities out in the world.

Esha Khan 

Esha KhanHometown: Elizabethtown, KY
Neuroscience major, Psychology and Biology minors
Career plans: Clinical Neuropsychology with a focus and concentration on invisible populations (asylum seekers, human-trafficking victims, refugees, etc.)
BU activities/honors: Vice president of Community and Campus Engagement for SGA, founder and president of the Muslim Student Association, finance director for the Asian American and Asian Student Union and Multicultural Association for Pre-Health Students, Bellarmine Society representative, Honors Program, President's Advisory Board for Equity and Inclusion, President's Advisory Board for the Center for Community Engagement  
Internships or work experience: Kentucky Neuropsychological Associates intern, Lifespring Health Internship in Southern Indiana, Young Professional Associates of Louisville PR and Operations intern, UofL Health Patient Access coordinator, Mathnasium tutor, Kumon tutor

Why Bellarmine?  I chose Bellarmine University because of its strong focus on liberal arts. I am also a Bellarmine Fellow, which gave me the opportunity to study abroad in Argentina and Uruguay. The emphasis on individualized attention and challenging experiences appealed to me, as I believed these would foster significant personal growth within a supportive community.

How was your Bellarmine experience? My experience at BU was challenging in a positive way. The academic rigor pushed me to excel and grow both intellectually and personally. I've enjoyed my time here and will cherish the memories and relationships that I've been able to cultivate with some of my favorite faculty and staff members. I will especially cherish my study abroad experience.

What made your student experience unique? I was initially one of the only Muslim Indian students on campus. After co-creating the Muslim Student Association, I've seen a surge in the number of Muslims on campus. I am proud and humbled to have been able to cultivate a space here on campus for Muslims and to have been able to join forces with MSAs across the United States through a national conglomerate, MSA Unity. 

What did you like best about your field of study? I love Neuroscience because it allows me to explore and understand complex phenomena such as poverty, attention, global mental health and motivation. I appreciate its intersectional nature, as it connects with various disciplines and has the potential to elucidate meaning in profound ways.


Erica Hartlage

Erica HartlageHometown: Louisville
Master of Arts in Teaching
BU activities: Noyce Knights Scholars Program [Funded by the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce program, the Noyce Knights Scholars Program prepares highly qualified science and mathematics teachers for middle and high school settings and covers Knights Scholars’ total cost of attendance after financial aid is applied]
How will this degree enhance your career? While I entered the teaching field equipped with science content knowledge, the MAT grants me the pedagogical skills and experience that allows that knowledge to reach my students. 

Why Bellarmine? The Noyce Knights Scholarship Program at Bellarmine made it possible for me to pursue my MAT. The opportunities it provided drew me to Bellarmine and enriched my passion for science education!


Ousman Jobe 

Ousman JobeHometown:  Louisville
Accounting major, MBA Early Entry
Career plans: I aim to pursue career in Audit & Assurance at a CPA accounting firm. Additionally, I plan to further my education by pursuing an MBA at Bellarmine and obtaining my CPA license.
BU activities/honors: African Student Association, Bellarmine Society
Internships or work experience: Finance/Accounting intern at Humana, Tax intern at Cerity Partners, Audit intern at Republic Bank, Global Business Solutions intern at Brown-Forman
How would you describe your BU experience? I genuinely felt embraced by a close-knit community. Sharing classrooms with students equally dedicated to success enriched my educational journey, forging friendships I deeply cherish. The faculty's commitment to fostering an academic environment of excellence profoundly influenced my personal and intellectual growth. My time at Bellarmine has been transformative, equipping me with the skills and confidence to thrive in my chosen field. I'm proud to call myself a Bellarmine Knight!

Hannah Mitchell

Hannah MitchellHometown: Belleville, IL
Criminal Justice Studies major with a triple minor in French, Sociology, and African and African American Diaspora Studies
Career plans: I plan to go into non-profit work that serves people who are affected by the criminal justice system as well as underserved groups in the community.
BU activities/honors: Honors Program, Knights of Color mentor, president of Black Student Union, senior representative on Student Government Association, Bellarmine Society, various identity organizations such as HOLA, AAASU and ASA 
Internships or work experience: Muhammad Ali Center community engagement and education intern, YMCA Safe Place youth mentor for children with incarcerated parents and intern of their youth development center, which was for houseless youth ages 18-24
Why Bellarmine? I saw the opportunity to become a leader whose purpose was to spread diversity and expand inclusion on campus and in the community. This school fostered the environment for me to dive deep into my purpose and grow into the person that I was meant to be!
What made your student experience unique? Being able to study abroad in France for 10 months and in Belize for spring break. This allowed me the opportunity to learn and immerse myself in other cultures. 
What did you like best about your field of study? I like our ability to apply what we learn in class into the real world. What I studied has definitely provided me with the tools to understand the world for what it is, and how best to create change in it. 

Logan Funderburg

Logan FunderburgHometown: Chesterton, IN
Undergraduate English major, Creative Writing minor (completed in 2023); Master of Arts in Teaching 
Career plans: I will be pursuing a career in secondary education as a high school English teacher. I am in the process of interviewing for three different positions in JCPS. I also am the Assistant Golf Professional at Cherokee Golf Course.
BU activities/honors: Philosophy Club, Pen & Sword, Ariel Literary Society. Graduated summa cum laude and made the Dean’s List all four years. 
Internships or work experience: Peer Wellness educator, writing coach, Resident Assistant, Graduate Assistant for Bellarmine’s Department of Health Care Administration and Public Health, 2021-22 BecVar Artist in Residence.
How will this degree enhance your career? The degrees I have earned at Bellarmine have not only prepared me in my field of expertise but have also provided me with a plethora of opportunities related to other fields. This combined experience has made me more able to relate to and understand other people, which has made becoming a teacher that much smoother.  
Why Bellarmine? Louisville is a big town. Bellarmine sits atop a hill overlooking the town in all its glory. There is a tranquility to the campus atmosphere, a quietness almost, which I felt from the very first day. Bellarmine gave me a moment of quiet while the rest of the world seemed to be upending itself. I am so incredibly thankful for that space. And furthermore, out of every college trip I went on, Bellarmine’s admission team most made me feel like I belonged here. 
Anything else about your time at BU? The sunsets are to die for.

Tori Nugent

Tori NugentHometown: Louisville
Environmental Justice and Sustainability major, Public Health minor 
Career plans: I plan to continue working at the U.S. Geological Survey Sediment Lab. Ultimately, I hope to find a career in land management and restoration. 
BU activities/honors: Week of Welcome Leadership Team, Food Recovery Network, Pioneer Scholars Program, Bellarmine Ambassador and Tour Guide, BU Leads Women in Leadership and Adventures in Leadership, Green Knights, Student Government Association Environmental Committee, Bellarmine Activities Council, Bellarmine Farm Team
Internships or work experience: Intern at the Center for Community Engagement, helping with Dare to Care runs, Knights Pantry restocks and social media outreach. For my independent study research project, I used GIS [geographic information system] software to create a comprehensive map that highlights community engagement opportunities for students. In the summer before my senior year, I served as a student contractor at the U.S. Geological Survey Sediment Lab in Louisville.
Why Bellarmine? The sense of community, which I instantly fell in love with the moment I stepped foot on campus. The small class sizes allowed me to build meaningful connections with my peers and professors. The support and resources Bellarmine provided were pivotal in helping me achieve my goal of being the first in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. 
How was your Bellarmine experience? I had a transformative experience at Bellarmine. My Week of Welcome leaders played a huge role in helping me navigate the unfamiliar college environment and embrace new opportunities. Engaging in various clubs and organizations helped me step out of my comfort zone and introduced me to lifelong friends. Bellarmine reminded me to take chances and make the most out of my time in college. 
What made your student experience unique? One of the most impactful experiences during my time at Bellarmine was my spring break trip to Arizona for my anthropology class, The Migrant’s Journey, led by Dr. Frank Hutchins. Visiting sites such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and working alongside humanitarian organizations shed light on the harsh realities of border policies. Planting crosses with artist Alvaro Enciso to honor those who lost their lives on their journey showcases the importance of humanizing their stories and advocating for change. 

Did your program prepare you to succeed in your field? Absolutely! I was unsure what I wanted to pursue when I was a first-year student since environmentalism is multifaceted. Through a diverse range of environmental classes and extracurriculars, I found my passion for coastal land management and GIS. I hope to utilize maps to raise awareness about the human impacts on coastal ecosystems.


Sam Bowles

Sam BowlesHometown:  Sellersburg, IN
Business Administration 
Career plans: I am planning to pursue a career in the marketing sector, working toward a management position with a company combined with the possibility of opening my own business at some point. 
BU activities/honors: Student and social media ambassadors, DJ for Bellarmine Radio, Beta Gamma Sigma
Internships or work experience: Marketing communications intern with Lucky Cat Café; ESPN Bellarmine Athletics Broadcasting
Why Bellarmine? I chose Bellarmine for the community. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than me, and I was able to find that at Bellarmine. I found this more in my last semester than anything else: Each of my classes felt like they were prepping me for a different aspect of my career field. I was able to build my network, put together a business plan and work for a nonprofit company. 
How would you describe your Bellarmine experience? The most rewarding part of Bellarmine is that each professor, no matter which school, is always challenging students to perform at their fullest potential. All the professors deeply care for their students and look for ways to help them succeed. 
What made your student experience unique? Bellarmine has given me the opportunity through extracurricular events to live out what I could not do before going to college. I have been able to play guitar in front of a crowd for multiple years in a row, dress up on the Belle of Louisville for Halloween, and go to the gym regularly to balance out my school and work life. 
Did your program prepare you to succeed in your field? I feel that my program will help me significantly. My field requires a lot of critical thinking, strategy, competitive analysis, networking, organization and coordination, to name a few, all of which Bellarmine has helped prepare me to face. I am ready to take the next step toward my future and goals.

Abigail Bullock

Abigail BullockHometown: Louisville
Communications and Design, Arts & Technology majors, minor in Theatre
Career plans: Since I am passionate about so many different things, I am keeping my options open. Ideally, I would love to be a social media manager for a theatre company or an orchestra. After I graduate, I will continue to do social media management and audience relations work with Assumption High School. 
BU activities/honors: Bellarmine Theatre, Alpha Psi Omega, TEDx BellarmineU Core Team, Bellarmine Leadership Institute, Strings Chamber Orchestra
Internships or work experience: Full-time summer job at The Print Refinery, social media manager and audience relations intern for Assumption High School’s Rose Theatre Company, graphic designer for the national Alpha Psi Omega
Why Bellarmine? With Bellarmine being a smaller university, I knew that I would be able to make so many connections, with teachers and students alike. I also was amazed by the number of majors and minors offered, and I managed to find a double major that fit my interests exactly!
What made your Bellarmine experience unique? My involvement in Bellarmine’s TEDx Core Team. It has not only given me more experience in all my interests, ranging from communications, graphic design, public speaking, theatre and everything in between, but has also brought me so many wonderful experiences.  
Did your program prepare you to succeed? Absolutely! With a mix of classes with hands-on work, and purely discussion-based classes, I feel more than prepared to apply all of it to an actual career. 

Emma Stivers

Emma StiversHometown: Lexington, KY
Vocal Performance and Health Sciences (2022); Doctor of Physical Therapy 
BU activities/honors: Physical Therapy early entry program, Prize in Ethics award winner, traveled to Ireland and Scotland with the Bellarmine choir, DPT Class officer, Bellarmine Ambassador and WOW leader, created the Bellarmine Music Ambassadors (BMA) program
How will this degree enhance your career? This degree will allow me the opportunity to begin my career in healthcare. I will be completing the Bellarmine and Norton Healthcare neurological residency program and plan to serve the Louisville community by treating children and adults with neurological conditions. 
Why Bellarmine? I toured Bellarmine's campus when I was in high school, and I instantly felt a connection to the place that I would soon call home. Moving on to complete my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Bellarmine was a no-brainer, and I am so glad that it is a part of my story. 

Lily Miller

Lily Miller_cap and gownHometown: Lexington, KY

Psychology major, Health Humanities minor

Career plans : I am pursuing becoming an Activities Director at a nursing home one day. 

BU activities/honors : President of BUKnighted, Students Beyond Barriers, founder and president of the St. Joseph of Arimathea Society, The Friendship Project, Campus Wellness

Internships or work experience : Activities assistant at Masonic Homes Kentucky, working with residents from their short-term rehabilitation, long-term care, and memory care facilities. I felt honored to care for every resident, however sweet or cantankerous they might be, and was committed to ensuring that my residents’ dignity was protected at all times. 

Why Bellarmine? Bellarmine chose me! I received the Bellarmine Scholar Award and had to come to Bellarmine for the absolute friendliness, care and concern Bellarmine leaders had for students and one another. Every corner I turn on campus, I am greeted with a smile. I love Bellarmine for giving me a place where I belong.

How would you describe your experience at BU? Becoming president of the LGBTQIA+ Student Organization at a Catholic University as a sophomore with little to no experience in such a role is one of the best and most characteristically “me” commitments I have ever made. It is through this role that I best realized Bellarmine’s value of Social Responsibility—my responsibility to give back to my community in meaningful and consistent ways. I have known from a young age that I was a part of the LGBTQIA+ community and always found the most solace and joy in surrounding myself with whatever peers and allies I could find who accepted that part of my identity. In that spirit, finding or creating safe spaces for such connections to occur felt vital. I have spent every semester since my election making sure queer students have somewhere to have fun together, resources to live as their fullest and truest selves personally, academically and professionally, and someone who they can talk to when they need it the most. 

What made your student experience unique? I am a student with late diagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Anything else that you’d like us to know about you or your time at BU? Beginning my first year of college, I decided I should have a job. I jumped on a listing I saw for an on-campus position as a “Peer Wellness Educator.” I wanted to open conversations about mental health on campus as I struggled with mental illness from a young age. I quickly got to work and scripted some programming for an event called “Art 6 Feet Apart” (the name was coined by Lillee Westfall), where students could use art supplies provided by Campus Wellness while socializing with one another (albeit 6 feet apart) to combat the loneliness of the COVID-19 pandemic. I wanted fellow incoming freshmen to experience the Bellarmine hospitality that was missing due to the pandemic. The event series was a hit and became a magnet for other RSOs to come in and co-host sessions, leading to even more campus engagement than I originally foresaw! The event series still runs to this day under the name “Art for the Heart.”


Deb Amend

Deb AmendHometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Ph.D. in Education and Social Change

BU activities/honors: Cooter Social Justice Award 2022

How will this degree enhance your career? I have accepted a full-time position as an assistant professor of Special Education at Northern Kentucky University 

Why Bellarmine?  I wanted a Ph.D. program, not an EdD program, and I wanted to focus on educational research about students with disabilities. Every other place I looked at was focused on educational leadership. I liked being able to design my specialization and to have the social-change aspect to the degree. 

Anything else that you’d like us to know about your time at BU? I really enjoyed the classes, and the fact that my cohort focused on so many different vulnerable populations. It allowed for understanding the intersectionality of the student population, and enhanced my learning so much more than if I was in a cohort with only students focusing on special education.


Maria Tori

Maria ToriHometown: Louisville
Environmental Justice and Sustainability major, minor in Biology 
Career plans: I am going to pursue a career in Ecology while simultaneously pursuing a career in writing. I am open to the flow of life, wherever it takes me.
BU activities/honors: Founded and led the Bellarmine Beekeeping Club until 2022; participated in three semesters of independent study with Dr. Martha Carlson Mazur and presented at multiple conferences including the Kentucky Academy of Science (where I won a Thoroughbred Award for research) and the Wilson Ornithological Society in Pennsylvania; led a weekly meditation group for students, faculty and staff; published Ode to Not Knowing, a chapbook by Finishing Line Press; guest on Benchtalk podcast with Dr. Dave Robinson
Internships or work experience: Intern, Samshine Foundation—Biodiversity Inventory, Aquatic Ecosystems; work study for Bellarmine Campus Ministry; volunteered as a naturalist at Bernheim Research Forest and Arboretum
Why Bellarmine? To be honest, I applied to Bellarmine because there was no application fee and the campus seemed to have better parking than other local universities. As my time at Bellarmine progressed, I began to realize I was brought Bellarmine for a reason. The connections I made here shaped and changed my life in a way that wouldn't have happened at another university. 
How was your Bellarmine experience?  The small class sizes and dedication of amazing faculty allowed for me to grow and learn at a greater capacity than would have otherwise been available to me. The women in the Environmental Studies Department go above and beyond and were the pillars to my experience, community and life here at Bellarmine in a profound way. Faculty, specifically in the Environmental Studies Department, have been the whole reason for my positive experience at Bellarmine and are indispensable. The faculty members here are Bellarmine's greatest assets and should be recognized as such. 
What made your student experience unique? I am a non-traditional student. I am 25 years old and worked before I went to Bellarmine or got any kind of undergraduate degree. I dropped out of high school and got a GED. I grew up below the poverty line for a lot of my childhood and have complex PTSD. The accommodations and support from Bellarmine faculty have been essential to my success, not only on campus, but also off-campus. For a good part of my degree, my Bellarmine family was the only family I really had—their presence and support have both saved and changed my life and I am forever grateful.

Tags: Great Grads



Located in the historic Highlands neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, 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.