Last updated: February 19. 2013 10:25PM - 590 Views

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DALLAS TWP. -- A smattering of black robes was punctuated by the occasional colorful umbrella as a light mist fell over the Misericordia University graduates who made their way between the buildings before the 2012 winter commencement ceremony.


This is the second annual event of its kind for the school, which has decided to make the winter ceremony an ongoing thing because of the size of the graduating classes.


Our May commencement just got so big, we needed to have a winter one, Marianne Puhalla, marketing communications at Misericordia said. It's always been very important to us to keep the ceremony on our campus, so this was a way to guarantee that.


The graduating class of 293 made its way into the Anderson Sports and Health Center on the Dallas Township campus, preceded by the Ceol Mor Pipe and Drum Band.


Though the keynote speaker for the day has never attended MU, his connections to the university run deep. John Spengler is the Akira Yamauchi professor of Environmental Health and Human Habitation, director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, and director of the Sustainability and Environmental Management Program at the Harvard Extension School.


Spengler saw the influence of the Sisters of Mercy school through his mother, the late Margaret Husic Spengler, class of 1936. He spoke of how the lessons his mother received at the school were an influence on he and his four brothers, even until this very day.


Margaret was the first editor of the college newspaper, served as president of the Alumni Association and became the first alumni representative to the Board of Trustees in 1985. In 1988 she was awarded the McAuley Medal for compassion and service, the highest honor presented by the University.


Leah Kaiser of Dallas served as the ceremony's student speaker, comparing her and her classmates' time at Misericordia to the Emerging statue in Rosenn Plaza, a figure that represents the shaping, nurturing and mental growth that comes with the college education and life.


Kaiser spoke of the unshaped minds of she and her classmates as freshmen and the professors that served as sculptors, who would begin to shape those minds.


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