Alumni eNewsletter: Commencement student speakers announced (Archives)

May 5, 2011


Each year, the University selects students to share personal messages about their lives and their impressions of what Gallaudet has meant to them with families, friends, and fellow students gathered at Commencement. It is my honor and pleasure to announce the student speakers for the 142nd annual commencement exercises on Friday, May 13, 2011, beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the Field House. Mr. Daniel DiDonna and Ms. Angela Marie Vasquez will present together on behalf of the undergraduate class, and Mr. Adam Wasilewski will represent our graduate students.

Daniel DiDonna grew up in Parsippany, New Jersey, and attended Mountain Lakes High School. He is graduating from Gallaudet University with a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude in Communication Studies and a minor in English. While at Gallaudet University, Daniel was involved with the swim team. He represented the United States at the 2009 Summer Deaflympics in Taipei, Taiwan. He was also a NCAA Division 3 All-American in swimming. Daniel worked as a student intern in the Office of the President, focusing primarily on Board of Trustees operations. He has been involved with the Academic Bowl, serving as a student ambassador for regional competitions, and with the Global Reach Out non-profit organization, working to empower deaf Guatemalans.

Daniel received the Alice M. Teegarden Memorial Award, Delta Epsilon Sorority Ideal Male Student Award, Mattivi Hall of Fame Internship Award, Olof Hanson Service Award, and the President's Council Award. He is a member and former president of the Lambda Pi Eta Communication Studies Honor Society and the Phi Alpha Pi Honor Society.

During the summer of 2010, Daniel worked for the Ministry of Special Education in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. He served as an American Sign Language instructor and communal supporter for the developing deaf community in the Marshall Islands. This internship has led him to a job as an English as a Second Language instructor in the Marshall Islands under WorldTeach, a non-profit, non-governmental organization that "partners with governments and other organizations in developing countries to provide volunteer teachers to meet local needs and promote responsible global citizenship." Daniel aspires to help and grow with other souls he encounters in his life journey.

Angela Marie Vasquez was born deaf to hearing parents in the Republic of the Philippines. Her parents struggled with how to give Angela the best education possible. They decided that the United States would provide this opportunity, and made the ultimate sacrifice as parents by sending her at age three to live with her aunt in Chicago, Illinois. Angela Marie was mainstreamed at John H. Kinzie Elementary School and graduated with honors from Whitney Young Magnet High School. She majored in Communication Studies and minored in Family and Child Studies. While at Gallaudet, she was a New Student Advisor for the JumpStart summer program and a peer leader for the First Year Experience program. She also worked as an assistant to the Student Success Program for three years, interacting with students and faculty. She was a member of Delta Epsilon Sorority and president of the Latino Student Union, and served as an anchorperson for Bison TV. She has also participated in Habitat for Humanity, India Study Abroad, and Global Reach Out in Guatemala.

Angela Marie received several awards for her academic excellence and leadership abilities, including the Muriel Hersch Award and the Alice M. Teegarden Memorial Award. She was inducted into the Lambda Pi Eta Communication Studies Honor Society.

Last summer, Angela Marie interned with the District of Columbia Vocational Rehabilitation Services. This spring, she attended the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention conference in Atlanta, Georgia. At the conference, she realized that her dream was to work with families and children. She will be pursuing a master’s degree that will allow her to work with this important population, as well as with youth development programs.

Adam Wasilewski is from suburban Chicago. He graduated from Carl Sandburg High School in 2004, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in General Studies from Northern Illinois University in 2008. As an undergraduate student, he was a teaching assistant for American Sign Language courses for three semesters. Through his experiences as a teaching assistant, he discovered his passion for teaching American Sign Language. Adam decided to enroll at Gallaudet University to pursue his future career in an ASL-rich environment.

During Adam’s time at Gallaudet, he has been immersed in the university culture and very involved with student activities. Gallaudet has provided Adam with life-transforming experiences, and he is proudly graduating today with a Master of Arts degree in Deaf Studies: Sign Language Teaching. He plans to teach American Sign Language as a foreign language at a high school and become an athletic coach. Adam is looking forward to a challenging career in educating people about American Sign Language and Gallaudet University.

The student speakers were chosen by a five-member faculty committee, chaired by Dr. Jeffrey Lewis of the Department of Counseling. Other members of the committee were Dr. Steven Ackley of the Department of Hearing, Speech, and Language Sciences; Ms. Michelle McAuliffe of the Department of Art; Dr. Jane Nickerson of the Department of English; and Dr. Lillie Ransom of the Department of Communication Studies. I thank them for their service.

Please join me in extending congratulations to Daniel, Angela, and Adam. I look forward to seeing them shine at Commencement!


Stephen F. Weiner, Ed.D.

Posted: 11 May 2011

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