Remembering the words spoken by then five year-old Valeria Tkacik still gives her mother, Anne, goose bumps. “I turned around to look at her and she was looking at me and smiling and I’ll never forget that day. She said Mommy, I was born to make people happy. I said to her I know you will. I truly believe she was getting a message from the angels right then. And from all her achievements, I know this to be true.” These days, Valeria is a standout lacrosse player for Ave Maria University in Florida. By all accounts, she is a leader on and off the field. Tkacik was named to the National Women’s Lacrosse League South Regional Team and is considered a talented athlete who loves playing lacrosse, basketball, golf, track, soccer and flag football. A good student in the classroom, Tkacik was also accepted as a Mother Teresa Scholar at Ave Maria. She has contributed service time for charity work, including a mission trip to Harlem, NY where she served the poor and homeless. Also, Tkacik recently got a haircut and donated 12 inches of her hair to Art of Wigs (Texas) to help cancer patients. As a freshman, she served as a representative on Ave Maria’s Student Government. For her sophomore year, Tkacik will serve on the Student Activities Board and was selected for Ave Maria’s Media Internship Program. And if those achievements aren’t enough, Valeria is also a motivational speaker, helping patients who are struggling with the loss of limbs and providing them encouragement. The reason? Tkacik can relate to their story. Read more…
Anthony Valle, Research Fellow in the Department of Theology at Ave Maria University, was named winner of one of ten grants given by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation in Rome. Valle’s article, titled “Retrieving the christological core of Joseph Ratzinger’s communio ecclesiology”, is part of the volume “Proceedings of the international Symposium of Theology” (Dublin 2013), collecting the interventions of a Symposium dedicated to Ecclesiology of the Communion. The Symposium was celebrated in 2012 in Maynooth, Ireland, during the 50th Dublin International Eucharistic Congress, 50 years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
Jim and Mary Towey greeted the Holy Father on Sunday after his departing remarks in a hangar at the Philadephia International Airport. President Towey told Pope Francis that Ave Maria University sent its love, and the Holy Father asked for our prayers.
Six Ave Maria University students, President Jim Towey, and Vice President for Student Affairs Julie Cosden were in Philadelphia for the Papal Events this past weekend. AMU’s Director of Student Engagement and Operations, Martin Doman, and his band performed prior to Sunday’s Mass with Pope Francis. Martin’s band was selected as one of nine to perform on Sunday. The band includes two AMU alums, Ben Houde and Rich Dittus.
Ave Maria University has been awarded status as an “Initial Teacher Preparation Program” by the State of Florida’s Department of Education. This designation means that students who graduate with an Education Major from Ave Maria University automatically qualify for a Florida professional teaching license. AMU joins 48 other Florida colleges and universities authorized to provide initial teacher preparation in Florida. State approval required submission of an extensive report and artifacts documenting that AMU’s program presents required core content, prepares and tracks teacher-candidates in the required skills and dispositions expected of teachers, has an extensive program evaluation and continual improvement process in place, and has the ability to collect and document evidence for continued approval by the state. There are more than 700 program data points that the program must account for. A special database is used to track collect and evaluate artifacts as well as teacher-candidate performance on more than a hundred individual metrics.
“This was a huge process, taking many months of work” remarked education department chair Dr. Dan Guernsey, “I am grateful to the members of the department for their assistance as well as to Dr. Michael Dauphinais and President Towey for making sure we had the resources to move through this intense process at the greatest possible speed.”
The AMU Education Department has formed its core philosophy so as to be deeply in the Catholic tradition. While examining the field of education using methodologies and practices proper to the discipline, the program maintains a deliberate and explicit foundation in the philosophical and theological insights of the Catholic tradition, especially its understandings related to the nature and dignity of the human person, the nature of Truth, and the unity of all knowledge as ultimately rooted in the order of God and creation. Holding that education is more than simply preparing K-12 students for college and career, Ave Maria’s teacher candidates are formed to attend to authentic human liberation and orient their students to transcendental realities related to truth, beauty and goodness. The Ave Maria University Educational program provides a strong undergraduate preparation in the liberal arts and a strong Catholic worldview, providing for a powerful pedagogical punch. Our teacher candidates spend time thinking deeply about the liberal arts tradition in general and about the nature and purpose of Catholic education in particular.
The program anticipates continued growth now that teacher licensure is awarded upon graduation. Those who wish to return to a home state with a Florida license are usually able to transition to the new state’s license under reciprocity agreements between states. Formal entry into the major is only possible for rising juniors who have substantially completed their core liberal arts studies, maintained a sufficient GPA, passed the first of three required Florida Teacher Certification exams, and who have met other requirements typically begun in the spring of the sophomore year.
Ave Maria University sophomore and music major, Mary Joy Silmaro, was awarded 2nd place in the Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition. Ms. Silmaro was selected by an international jury of high-profile performers: Dr. Frederick Swann, Dr. Christoph Bull, and Mr. Felix Hell.
For the final round, Mary Joy performed J.S. Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in G minor (BWV 542) and Allegro Vivace from Fifth Symphony by Charles-Marie Widor.
“It was such a friendly atmosphere and I even got to know the other competitors better and became friends with them. I thought it would be really nerve-wracking for me to perform in front of the other competitors, who certainly have had more experience in performance and competitions, and the many professional organists. Rather, I was very excited to walk onto that stage and just have fun with my pieces. I had so much fun throughout the whole performance – I wish I could do it again!
All the hard work I put towards this competition has certainly paid off. I was even personally invited by one of the judges, Dr. Christoph Bull, organ professor at UCLA, to come to UCLA for graduate studies! I don’t know what exactly the future holds for me, but this competition has certainly opened many opportunities and possibilities for me. I am truly grateful to Rodgers and the other competitors for making this a worthwhile experience, and to my parents and all the professors of Ave Maria University for all their support.”
About Mary Joy Silmaro
Mary Joy Silmaro is a sophomore at Ave Maria University where she studies organ under Dr. Brice Gerlach. Mary Joy began her music training at age 5 with piano lessons from her homeschooling mother. She embarked on formal piano studies at age 7, violin at age 8, and voice at age 9. After her family moved to Newark, CA, she transitioned to studying organ and Gregorian chant with Sam Dorlaque, music director at St. Edward Catholic Church in Newark, CA. Mary Joy worked as organist and cantor in several churches in her teens, and currently serves at part-time organist at the Oratory in the town of Ave Maria, Florida.
About the Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition
The Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition has been revamped and focuses on young performers 14 to 22 years old.
Finalists performed in the Music Theater of the stunning Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. MIM is dedicated to offering a shared experience of the history of musical instruments throughout the world to visitors who tour its 200,000 square feet of exhibit space displaying instruments from 200 countries and regions.
Cash awards for competition winners are $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second and $1,500 for third. Winners of past competitions have gone on to appear as recitalists playing for audiences around the country.
AVE MARIA, Fla. — After completing a nationwide search in which over 300 applications were received, the University is pleased to announce Mrs. Kimberly King as Ave Maria’s next Athletic Director. She will assume the duties as AMU’s Athletic Director in early May.
“Kim will have a huge influence in shaping the experiences of hundreds of our students for years to come,” stated President Jim Towey. “Her strong Catholic faith and administrative experience in athletics inspire all of us.”
Mrs. King brings with her over 20 years of athletic administration and coaching experience at the collegiate level. She concludes her tenure as Assistant Athletic Director for Leadership, Counseling and Life Skills at NCAA Division I State University of New York at Binghamton where she successfully helped them transition from NCAA Division III to Division I.
During her time at Binghamton, Kim held positions as Head Cross Country Coach, Assistant Track and Field Coach, Physical Education instructor, Assistant Athletic Director for Academic and Student Services, Assistant Athletic Director for CHAMPS Life Skills and Counseling, and Associate Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator (SWA).
“I am humbled to be able to serve as Director of Athletics at Ave Maria University. Working at AMU is an extraordinary opportunity to combine the love I have for both athletics and my Catholic faith.? C?ontributing to a University with such a strong mission and clear vision couldn’t be more exciting for me,” King said.
Mrs. King received her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication from the University of Richmond and later earned her Master of Arts in Counseling from Franciscan University of Steubenville.
“This is an exciting time for the University and Athletics in particular, as the growth in both has demonstrated the need for a full-time Director of Athletics,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Julie Cosden. “I’m excited for Kim to bring her extensive experience in intercollegiate athletics to AMU to continue to build and improve our Athletic Department for our student-athletes, coaches, trainers, and athletic support staff.”
The Athletic Department at Ave Maria has grown from sponsoring six varsity level sports in 2008-09, to boasting 16 varsity-level programs for the 2014-15 season, with nearly 400 student athletes. The Athletic Department staff has grown to include six administrative and athletic support positions, 13 head coaches, and 17 assistant coaches. The athletics program had a budget this year of $1.8 million.
Ave Maria University is a Catholic, liberal arts institution of higher learning devoted to Mary, the Mother of God, inspired by St. John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and dedicated to the formation of joyful, intentional disciples of Jesus Christ through Word and Sacrament, scholarship and service.
Ave Maria University was ranked ninth of 39 public and private universities in Florida by USA Today college partner CollegeFactual.com. The goal of the rankings is to measure the quality of education a student will receive at a specific college, relative to all the other colleges in the state of Florida. The rankings include factors such as student body caliber, a University’s educational resources, degree completion, and post-graduate earnings.
AMU, the only Catholic University to make the top ten list, is now in the company of Florida’s elite institutions. AMU is one of seven private colleges ranked in the top ten, and is the most affordable of them. Ave Maria is also ranked ahead other schools, such as FGCU, University of Central Florida, University of North Florida, and University of South Florida.
Click here to view the top colleges in Florida.
Ave Maria University President Jim Towey and Chancellor Tom Monaghan were listed as Top 100 Christian Leaders in America by Newsmax. The only Catholic University president to make the list, Towey made his debut at number 45 followed by Chancellor Monaghan at number 61.
“I’m honored to be in the company of great men of faith like Tom, Cardinals Wuerl and Dolan, and the many others,” said Towey. “This is the first time I have ranked ahead of Chuck Norris on any list.”
Newsmax covers the latest developments in politics, national and world news, health, faith, personal finance, and technology with a unique American perspective and topics that the major media often ignore.
The President’s Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a graduating senior of Ave Maria University to recognize academic accomplishments, involvement in the life of the University, service to others, and exemplification of AMU’s highest Catholic ideals. The finalists for the 2015 President’s Award are (listed in alphabetical order):
The winner will be announced at the President’s Dinner on Friday, May 8th following the Baccalaureate Mass.