Hilbert Celebrates Class of 2013; First Master's Graduates

Release Date:
May 11, 2013
Matt Heidt,

HAMBURG, N.Y. – Hilbert College held its 52nd annual commencement ceremony on May 11 and nearly 275 graduates rejoiced in receiving their degrees.  The celebration was heightened by being a part of a historic moment for the Franciscan institution as the college conferred master’s degrees for the first time.
Commencement speaker Howard Zemsky, managing partner of Larkin Development Group, said his message to the Class of 2013 focused on “curiosity, humility, community engagement, optimism and leadership.”
“If you take yourself too seriously, you will talk too much and listen too little. Make sure you never make the mistake of talking too much and listening too little,” Zemsky said.  “So, humility and leadership go together.  Be a good listener. Be collaborative. Be a participant.”
“Community engagement and curiosity go together,” Zemsky said.  “I want you to earn respect from people because you lead by example and you follow the ‘golden rule.’ Be humble and open-minded.  Don’t make the mistake of putting people in little boxes; they have more to offer, just like you do.”
Zemsky continued, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well every single day; it is how you plant seeds for your future.”
Zemsky, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority chairman and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Western New York economic development expert, is a businessman turned developer whose renovation of a vacant building on Exchange Street – the Larkin Building – is credited with transforming an entire neighborhood.  Recently, he was selected in a vote of the Buffalo Niagara leadership community conducted by The Buffalo News as “displaying the most leadership when it comes to moving the region forward.” 
In addition to the master’s degrees, Hilbert President Cynthia Zane, Ed.D., conferred four- and two- year degrees to graduates in the Class of 2013.
She also presented an honorary doctorate to Zemsky.  The idea of ‘community’ is one of the defining features of the Franciscan life.  For his commitment and achievements towards building community in the city of Buffalo and Western New York and bringing about what many believed impossible and transforming our community, Hilbert proudly presented Zemsky an honorary doctorate of humane letters.
The 2013 Hilbert College Medal, which is presented to those “who embody Franciscan values, demonstrate excellence in their profession or career, and excellence in community service,” was awarded to Vincent O. Hanley, partner at Jaeckle Fleischmann and Mugel, LLC.  Hanley served on the Board of Trustees at Hilbert from 2003-12, including two terms as chair.
Top student awards that were presented at Hilbert’s 52nd commencement include:
--Lambert and Margaret Graham Award for a full-time returning adult student who has earned the highest cumulative quality point average. Presented to Kristine L. Benz
--Kimberly Bruch Raczkowski Memorial Alumni Association Award for a graduate who reflects the spirit of Hilbert and its mission, and possesses strong leadership skills and demonstrates loyalty and dedication to others.  Presented to Jerrell T. Mason
--Sister Mary Edwina Bogel Award to an outstanding female graduate in recognition of her character, intellectual achievement and devoted service to fellow students and the college. Presented to Nina G. Pierino
--John Kissel Man of the Year Award to an outstanding male student in recognition of his character, intellectual progress, organizational ability, and participation in activities and programs.  Presented to Jonathan D. Hulbert

Hilbert College, located in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., south of Buffalo, is a private four-year college founded in 1957 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition. With nearly 1,100 students, Hilbert is a dynamic Western New York college that offers career-focused majors, including one of the top criminal justice programs in the region, and more than 50 minors and concentrations. The college’s engaging, student-centered campus community offers numerous leadership, internship, and service learning opportunities from which students launch successful careers while making positive changes in their communities. The Hilbert Blueprint promotes a well-rounded student experience over four years – starting with the Foundations Seminar in the freshman year, followed by Sophomore Service, Junior Symposium, and culminating with the Senior Capstone. Hilbert has expanded its academic offerings with the college’s first graduate programs and new Accelerated Degree Programs geared to adult learners.