Carroll College Celebrates 114th Commencement

Graduation Commencement

HELENA, MONT. - On Saturday, May 11, 2024, Carroll College (Helena, Montana) conferred degrees on 265 graduates including baccalaureate, masters and accelerated nursing degree recipients, during its 114th commencement ceremony held in the Carroll College PE Center. The ceremony included a number of awards and honors for students and faculty as well.

Biology professor and recipient of the 2023 Distinguished Scholar Award, Dr. Ashley Beck provided the faculty address during the ceremony.

The class of 2024 senior speaker was Bellicia Hawk from Charlo, Montana. Hawk graduated with a major in biology and a minor in theatre. During her time at Carroll, she was a member of the women’s volleyball team and an active participant in the theatre department.

The college’s Bishop Gilmore Memorial Award for Outstanding Scholarship, awarded to seniors who have attained the highest grade-point average after four years at Carroll, was awarded to three graduates: Geri Lynn Cutler of Helena, Mont., Lily Cecilia Hoelscher of Baker City, Ore., and Nicole Morgen of Bend, Ore.

The Michael Murphy Award for Outstanding Collegiate Citizenship was presented to two graduates. Katherine Bourekis, from Spokane, Wash., graduated summa cum laude with a degree in biology. While at Carroll, she worked as a tutor and teaching assistant, served for four years in student government, and was very active in Special Olympics, in addition to being a volunteer caregiver in the Helena community. Ben Held, from Great Falls, Mont., graduated summa cum laude with a major in biology as well. Throughout his time at Carroll, he has been heavily involved in Special Olympics organizations both at Carroll and in the community. In addition, he is a volunteer youth group leader in his church and he mentors vulnerable youth at an organization in his hometown of Great Falls. Additionally, three graduates were selected as honorable mentions: James Normandeau; Rosie Ramirez; and Bersabeh Mekonnen Zellele.

The Raymond G. Hunthausen Outstanding Service Award was presented to two graduates. Geri Lyn Cutler, from Helena, Mont., graduated summa cum laude with a degree in biology. Geri devoted much of her time at Carroll to being an enthusiastic and supportive leader and advocate for Carroll’s Special Olympics club. Bersabeh Mekonnen Zellele, from Ethiopia, graduated with a double major in Sociology: medical and human services and Health Sciences. A strong advocate for mental health and addiction recovery, Bersabeh worked for NAMI and Shodair Children’s Hospital as well as created a substance recovery program as a SAFE-Project Fellow.

Several faculty awards were also conferred. The Outstanding Teaching Award recipient was Janet Johnson, assistant professor of nursing, whose teaching style is dynamic and supportive, blending deep knowledge and interactive learning to inspire and empower future nurses. The Distinguished Scholar Award was awarded to Dr. Stefanie Otto-Hitt, associate professor of biology, for her innovative integration of complex research into education and her pivotal role in establishing a community-focused wastewater surveillance program during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carroll College bestowed the title Professor Emerita and Emeritus to three professors in recognition of their legacy at Carroll. The professors were: Professor of English, Dr. Debra Bernardi; Associate Professor of History, Dr. Dean Pavlakis; and Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies & Languages, Alex Rincón.

The ceremony also honored 50-, and 60--year graduates from the classes of 1974 and 1964. 

See the list of 2024 graduates and 50-, and 60--year graduates here.