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Seton Hill motto especially poignant at graduation

| Sunday, May 12, 2013, 10:57 a.m.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Haley Scott DeMaria, an author and motivational speaker who suffered injuries in a bus accident involving the University of Notre Dame's swim team, address the crowd of undergraduates and those attending Seton Hill University's commencement held on Saturday, May 11, 2013.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Latrobe native Arnold Palmer, legendary golfer, business executive and philanthropist, greets Seton Hill University's Michele M. Ridge as she awards him a doctor of humane letters degree.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Elisa Kostelnik, a Theatre major graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, glances out of a window while walking downstairs in Sullivan Hall enroute to commencement at Seton Hill University in Greensburg on Saturday, May 11, 2013
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Nadine Wallace (center), the manager of Seton Hill's lacrosse team who was injured in a fatal bus crash, moves her tassle at commencement Saturday at the Greensburg university. She used a cane as she went to receive her diploma.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Lawrence L. Jesky (back), associate professor of psychology and chairman of the Division of Social Sciences, presents Haley Scott DeMaria with a hood while she receives an honorary degree.

Seton Hill University's motto, “Hazard yet forward,” is especially meaningful as the school heals from a fatal bus crash in March, said commencement speaker Haley Scott DeMaria.

“The hazard we can't control. The forward we can,” DeMaria said on Saturday to a packed gymnasium in Seton Hill's Katherine Mabis McKenna Center. Nearly 200 degrees and certificates were conferred during the Catholic university's 95th commencement.

DeMaria, 39, survived a fatal bus crash in January 1992 as a freshman swimmer with the University of Notre Dame's swim team. DeMaria, who was initially paralyzed from the waist down, underwent multiple surgeries, and eventually was able to walk again and rejoin the swim team.

“Each of us can wake up tomorrow and find something negative in our lives on which to focus or each of us can also wake up tomorrow and focus on and celebrate the blessings in our lives,” DeMaria said. “This is our choice, and we have the power to choose this every day. Hazard yet forward: The hazards will always be a part of life.”

DeMaria reached out to Seton Hill to offer support after its women's lacrosse team's bus crashed along the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Carlisle headed to a game on March 16, injuring several players and killing head coach Kristina Quigley, 30; her unborn son, Jackson; and bus driver Anthony Guaetta, 61, of Johnstown.

Several team members graduated, including student manager Nadine Wallace, who made her way across the stage with a cane to resounding cheers.

Soccer player Paul Cornelius, 22, of Ontario, Canada, said the bus crash had a profound impact on the whole campus, but especially on athletes because “it could have happened to any of us.”

“(DeMaria) was probably the ideal speaker for this moment, for what our community was facing for the last two months of school,” said Cornelius, senior class treasurer.

DeMaria and golf legend Arnold Palmer, a Latrobe native, were each awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

“You are a man of virtue, an athlete of grace and accomplishment, a citizen whose life works have enriched beyond measure the lives of the world around him,” said Michele Ridge, chair of Seton Hill's board of trustees.

Dr. E. Ronald Salvitti, an innovator in eye surgery, was awarded an honorary doctorate of science for contributions he and his late wife, Seton Hill alumna Constance Angotti Salvitti, made to the school.

The Salvitti Gymnasium, where commencement was held, is named in their honor, and their donations helped build Seton Hill's physician assistant program.

Saturday marked President JoAnne Boyle's last graduation as head of the university, a post she's held since 1987. She will retire June 30, or when a successor is named.

She was named professor of the year at an awards ceremony on Friday. The City of Greensburg declared it Dr. JoAnne Woodyard Boyle Day.

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or kandren@tribweb.com.

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