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Home > Clerc Center > MSSD2014Commencement

MSSD Celebrates 43rd Commencement Exercises

Image: Proud graduate Cahlah Chapman shows her diploma

Proud graduate Cahlah Chapman shows her diploma

As 45 Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) graduates received their diploma on stage in the Gallaudet University Elstad Auditorium on June 6, each student took a pause to share thank yous and memories before moving the tassel over his or her mortarboard to signify their switch to alumni.

"It all went by in a flash," said new graduate Zachary Bridgett on stage. He turned to show the audience of family and friends a lightning bolt on a red cape that he had decorated over the back of his graduation gown.

Zachary Bridgett's Flash Graduation Gown

Class valedictorian Ilan Ben-Moshe wanted his classmates to know that the meaning of life is simple. "Just be happy," he said. Throughout his three years at MSSD, Ben-Moshe excelled in academics and making friends, but his favorite memories were of being part of MSSD's wrestling team which won three consecutive Deaf Prep and league championships. "I learned many valuable lessons from my coaches about respect, humility, passion, and never giving up."

Ilan Ben-Moshe MSSD 2014 valedictorian

Class salutatorian Emmanuel Perrodin-Njoku talked about the bonds of family and friends. Growing up in the Washington, D.C., area, his parents took him to museums and galleries on the National Mall. "I would see so many different things--famous paintings, replicas of airplanes and rockets, exhibits on the Civil War and more." That intellectual curiosity played an important part in his four-year membership on MSSD's Academic Bowl team, of which he was captain when it won the national championship in 2014. Perrodin-Njoku compared his Academic Bowl experience to the Class of 2014 as a whole. "We might be composed of various people with different personalities, opinions, attitudes... but underlying them all is our shared experience as MSSD students."

 Emannuel Perrodin-Njoku MSSD 2014 saluatorian

Alumna Venita Smith, '87, was the commencement speaker. Smith, a supervisor for the Independent Living Program at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, was recently appointed to the Disabilities Resource Center Advisory Council by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Board. Smith counseled the 45 graduates to "remember the three 'Cs' of life: choice, chance, and change." She quoted from the poet Maya Angelou: "If you don't like something, change it; if you can't change it, change your attitude."

 MSSD 2014 graduation speaker Venita Smith

This year, the graduation scholarship awards included a new award, the Laura Synder-Gardner and Mary Ann Gardner Memorial Scholarship, in memory of Laura, the MSSD soccer coach, and her daughter, Mary Ann, a member of the Class of 2014 whom the class and teachers honored by wearing her favorite colors of yellow and pink.

Gallaudet Scholarship Recipients 2014 

The following scholarships were awarded:

  • Peter B. Hobbs Memorial Scholarship Award: Emmanuel Perrodin-Njoku
  • Stephanie Joyner Scholarship Award: Zachary Bridgett
  • Alan R. Williams Memorial Scholarship: Isabella Rosa and Kerie Scurry-Burns
  • Laura Synder-Gardner and Mary Ann Gardner Memorial Scholarship: Mikail Baptiste and Kerie Scurry-Burns
  • Gallaudet University Scholarships: Ilan Ben-Moshe, Cahlah Chapman, Jade DeLaO, Brianna Keogh, Ashley Kingston, Harold Ramirez, Kerie Scurry-Burns, Jonah Strom, Anyae' Thompson, Matthew Thompson, James Trusock III, and Belva Wolcott

Congratulations to all the members of the graduating Class of 2014 and their families!

Graduation cap toss

Graduating seniors:

  • Katryna Baldiviez
  • Mikail Baptiste
  • Miguel Barrios
  • Ilan Ben-Moshe*
  • Jahad Boone
  • Wendy Brehm
  • Zachary Bridgett*
  • Devid Brodsky
  • Cahlah Chapman
  • Jade DeLaO
  • Luis Diaz Colon
  • Jed Eldred
  • Ethan Ettienne
  • Leah Frechette*
  • Arthur Hart
  • Melanie Hubbard
  • David Iskhakov
  • Thara Jackson
  • Michael Janecek
  • Ashley Kingston*
  • Brianna Keogh*
  • Hannah Lowndes*
  • Brennan McDonough
  • Lee Miller
  • Brad Munday*
  • Luis Naranjo
  • Emmanuel Perrodin-Njoku*
  • Deanna Phillips*
  • Harold Ramirez, Jr.
  • Hazel Ramirez
  • Isabella Rosa
  • Sierra Saylor
  • Kerie Scurry-Burns*
  • Joseph Simmons
  • Duke Smith
  • Keshon Smith
  • Jonah Strom*
  • Anyae' Thompson
  • Matthew Thompson
  • Lilly Tingler
  • James Trusock III*
  • Shaneque Walker
  • Caitlin Williams
  • Belva Wolcott
  • Aaron Wright

 *Merit diploma