Who is the Class of 2018?


Ave Maria University’s graduating class of 2018 consisted of 247 devoted scholars, diverse in their passions and hobbies, but united in loyalty to their new alma mater. While most students pursued their Bachelor degree, ten students achieved a Masters of Art in Theology, and five received a Doctors of Philosophy in Theology. This was Ave Maria’s largest graduating class to date. Seven of the Bachelor degree students were the first at Ave Maria to graduate with the new Marketing Degree that is offered on campus. The class of 2018 have earned degrees in Catholic education at Ave Maria University that will enable them to pursue work in fundraising, politics, pro-life initiatives, and so much more. These graduates are capable, inspired, and ready to show the world what an Ave Maria University graduate can do! We are delighted to share a few success stories from the class of 2018.


Valeria’s Story

Valeria Tkacik graduated with her degree in Politics. If that wasn’t enough, she double minored in Environmental Science and Theology. While on campus, Valeria was both an accomplished student academically and athletically. She was a valued member of the women’s lacrosse team, which serves as an incredible testament to her tenacity and drive. Valeria has managed to become a standout athlete, despite living with a condition called congenital disarticulation of the shoulder, meaning she was born without a left arm. She spent her time at Ave Maria training, praying with her sisters in her household- the Sisterhood of Mary Magdalene, and playing an active role in Student Government Association. Valeria is not sure what she plans to do with her degree following graduation, but has a few possibilities and is excited for her next adventure.


Breanna’s Story

Breanna Backstrom graduated with the class of 2018, double majoring in Psychology and Health Science. During her time at Ave Maria, Breanna served as treasurer for the Apologetics club, an on-campus organization that strives to educate students in the art of justifying the multiple aspects of one’s faith. During her junior and senior year, she spent her free time tutoring high school students in math and science, until finally finding her calling through an internship at the Naples Community Pregnancy Clinic. She found her work in the pro-life field to be so fulfilling that she chose to pursue the ministry after graduation. Since graduating, she has relocated to South Bend, Indiana, where she will work as a counselor for the Women’s Care Center.


Nick’s Story

Nick Root left his home state of Texas hoping to become a part of Ave Maria University’s football team his freshman year, but his career at Ave Maria soon took an unexpected turn. His accomplishments in high school landed him the Kazma Leadership Scholarship. Having discovered firsthand what a blessing a scholarship could be, he decided to work towards helping provide other students with that same opportunity. During his time as an undergrad, Nick worked in the Office of Advancement as a student caller in the Phone Center, raising scholarship funds for students in need. After two years of working in the Phone Center and being promoted to Lead Philanthropy Specialist, Nick accepted a full-time job to begin after graduation with Ave Maria University in the Office of Advancement as an Advancement Associate. Nick balanced work and volunteering with a busy scholastic life, becoming one of the seven marketing graduates of 2018.


By: Johnnie Eagan, ‘19