Graduate greatness

Local Catholics graduating from high school and college are poised to do great things for the Church and community. (Ambria Hammel/THE CATHOLIC SUN)
Local Catholics graduating from high school and college are poised to do great things for the Church and community. (Ambria Hammel/THE CATHOLIC SUN)

Michelle Davis, St. Henry parishioner — Graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor of arts degree in Religious Studies. The former altar server and youth group member selected the major freshman year after hearing people at the St. Thomas More Newman Center taking related classes.

“I grew up Catholic. I had a very strong Catholic faith. I wanted to learn more about other faiths to make my faith stronger,” Davis said.

A Newman Center connection also allowed her to observe and volunteer in an elementary school classroom which solidified her desire to go into teaching, specifically first and second-graders at a Catholic school. Davis will spend the next year volunteering at an elementary school in Los Angeles through the St. Joseph Worker program and then pursue teaching credentials.

Davis graduated a proud Catholic. She decorated her mortarboard with the Newman Center cross and a phrase in each corner — such as “Trust God” — that she tries to live by.

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Greg Wirth, Brophy ‘Man of the Year’ — When a school reporter contacted him for an interview upon earning the student newspaper’s annual title for a graduating senior, he replied, “My story’s really not that interesting.” Classmates and teachers disagree. Read more. This all-around athlete was described as a loyal friend, but humble, especially when reflecting on his Guatemala immersion trip and legacy.

When asked how he would like to be remembered, Wirth said, “I want people to know that God is the center of my life. I’m not perfect. I’m not there yet, but I’m trying.”

“I’d love to go back to the Guatemala kids and try to help them somehow,” Wirth said when asked about the future. “But I haven’t really haven’t thought about it. I hope to build on my Catholic faith and continue to work for the greater glory of God … Brophy has taught me to be myself and always seek the truth.”

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Sarah Westervelt, St. Frances Cabrini parishioner — A local realty company profiled this student body president who is ranked second academically in her class as student of the month in April. Her parish has her featured among other students and parishioner profiles on its bulletin board. Westervelt is a graduating senior from Camp Verde High School, who was a cheerleader and member of the varsity track team. Her family spent a few months in Ecuador simply to bond further before life takes them in different directions. Westervelt volunteered at a monkey rescue center. She plans to study biology at Gonzaga University.

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Sean Duffy Yoho, Resurrection parishioner — This Dobson High School senior is the recipient of the Patricia L. McCarthy Memorial Scholarship through the Catholic Community Foundation. He spent his school days playing football, wrestling, earning the rank of Eagle Scout and volunteering in St. Vincent de Paul’s dining room and with Project C.U.R.E. He plans to attend Benedictine College in Kansas to study engineering.

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Amber Pirkl, Bourgade senior/St. Vincent de Paul parishioner — This graduating senior remains involved in campus life in academic and art societies, student leadership, service, chess and SADD. She is set on studying engineering at ASU with concrete, admirable plans for her future:

  • In 10 years: I will be an Architectural Manager with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and two minors: Spanish and Theology. While in college, I hope to study abroad (maybe in Spain to become fluent in Spanish).

My ten year goal is to live in Chicago, be married, be a youth minister at my parish and financially successful. (full profile)

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Lauren Riddiford, U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalist —This young woman just graduated from Xavier College Preparatory and was named a semifinalist in this year’s U.S. Presidential Scholars competition. Of the nearly 3.2 million high school seniors nationwide, she was among 550 — and 11 from Arizona — to advance to the final round. Selection is generally by ACT or SAT score. About the program.

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Gabriel Lopez, Catholic Charities award — This soon-to-be Brophy graduate was awarded the  Catholic Charities North Star Youth Leadership Award, which included a $600 scholarship. While volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul’s family dining hall one night, Lopez noticed a group of teenagers who were disengaged from the night’s activities at the “Dream Center.”  He created a Teen Night project aimed at engaging the teenagers who come to dinner at St. Vincent’s, devoting one to two nights a week.
His project was part of the Contemplatives in Action course which had students design projects that responded to a community need. Read about all projects.

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Seton alum Christopher Procopio ’09 — He earned the title of “Outstanding Graduate” this month from ASU’s construction engineering program due to his 3.42 grade point average amid on-the-job experiences  and other accomplishments in civil engineering. The former Sentinel served as a transportation engineering intern with the Arizona Department of Transportation working with the agency’s Phoenix Region Design Team. He also worked as a community assistant in the Engineering Residential College on ASU’s Tempe campus, according to a press release from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
Procopio won second place at an annual student construction management event and belonged to a national civil engineering honors society and ASU’s chapter for civil engineers. Procopio, who grew up in Ahwatukee, accepted a full-time position in Dallas as a project engineer and will pursue a professional engineer license.

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Rita Sanders, St. Frances Cabrini parishioner — She was among 92 students earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree from Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health and Sciences this month. Her parents remain current parishioners.

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Seton alum Joseph Harrington ’09 — This ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College, graduate maintained a 4.0 grade point average while pursuing a bachelor’s and held leadership positions with the school’s chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers including coordinating a steel bridge competition at a southwest conference. All of that earned him the title of Outstanding Graduate from ASU’s Civil, Environmental and Sustainable Engineering program and Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistant. Harrington has been accepted into the engineering graduate program at ASU to pursue a doctoral degree in engineering with a focus on structures and materials. He was awarded the Dean’s Fellowship and a Fulton Fellowship to fund his studies.