St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the National Public Honors College, graduated 375 students with Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Master of Arts in Teaching degrees on Saturday, May 14, outdoors on Townhouse Green campus. 

The commencement address was delivered by Terron Hillsman, director of the ecological sciences division for the USDA- Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS). His message to the Class of 2022 centered on the importance of resiliency, and “gifting” hope to others. In his remarks, he shared with the audience examples of challenges and opportunities he culled from interviewing several St. Mary’s college seniors. 

Credit: St. Mary’s College of Maryland

President Tuajuanda C. Jordan, accompanied by Board of Trustees Chair Susan Dyer, presented honorary degrees to Hillsman and St. Mary’s County Health Officer Meenakshi G. Brewster. 

Hillsman, who has 30 years with NRCS, is responsible for developing and maintaining the National Conservation Practice Standards and Plant Materials Program. He earned his B.S. in agriculture from Tennessee State University, an M.A. in organizational management from Tusculum College, and a Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Tennessee. He received the honorary degree as a “change agent” and for his “positive and lasting impacts” on the agency for which he serves, said Dyer 

Dr. Brewster, who directs the St. Mary’s County Health Department, provides medical guidance in public health decision-making and represents the county and health department on local, state, and national committees addressing health. She earned a B.S. in biology, a master’s degree in public health, and a doctorate in medicine, all from the University of Miami in Florida. She received her honorary degree as an “integral part of the College’s response to the pandemic.” said Dyer. “We remain resilient because we have you by our side, day by day.”

President Jordan acknowledged five faculty retiring in 2022: David Kung (mathematics); Susan E. Grogan, emerita (political science); Deborah Lawrence (music); Richard Platt (psychology); and Don Stabile (economics and Professor of the College).

This year, five students earned the honor of serving as valedictorians. Those students are Harrison Bauman, Caitlin Hall, Sydney Lipsman, Charlotte Mac Kay, and Jacinda Thomas. A lottery led to Caitlin Hall delivering the remarks to the Class of 2022.  

In her remarks, Hall, anthropology, and history double major with a minor in museum studies said, “My fellow classmates: We did it. Despite the number of times we were asked to live, work, and learn, we made it through unprecedented times. I am most proud of the continued sense of community that we built and maintained no matter how many times that word ‘unprecedented’ was thrown at us.”

President. Jordan charged the Class of 2022 with the following: “You have done well here at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where you have studied and learned in the finest liberal arts tradition. As you ‘sail through this to that in moving beyond the banks of this river into the world, I expect you to take your passions, skills, and knowledge at this place to create a more just and humane society for all.”

The ceremony was live-streamed and can be found at

About the Valedictorians 

Harrison Bauman is a double major in applied physics and computer science with a minor in mathematics. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He is the president of the College chapter of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and vice president of the Association of Women in Mathematics student chapter.

Caitlin Hall is anthropology and history double major with a minor in museum studies. A Sullivan Scholar, she is the president of the Anthropology Club and has interned at the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory, Annapolis Maritime Museum, and Park, and here on campus.

Sydney Lipsman is a double major in English and international languages and cultures: Spanish. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She has worked as the peer lead for the peer-to-peer mentorship program and has been a member of the Student Conduct Board.

Charlotte Mac Kay is a double major in English and political science. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, she is the editor of the Point News. She has held numerous on-campus internships, most recently with the Lutheran Immigration Refugee Services as a refugee advocate.

Jacinda Thomas is a psychology major with an English minor. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She is president of the College chapter of Psi Chi, the psychology honor society. She has been a research assistant and a SURF fellow; she’s also been a peer-to-peer mentor and a mentor for the first-year seminar program.

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