Students Amanda Werniak and Sarah Rakauskas have been selected through a competitive process to present student speeches at the Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement Ceremonies, respectively, on Sat., May 11.
Amanda Werniak is an elementary education major from Alsip, Ill. Amanda is obtaining a concentration in English with an endorsement in special education. She has attended Saint Xavier University for four years and has been both a commuter and resident. Amanda attributes her success at Saint Xavier to her parents and her brother, and says their unconditional support has played a major role in in all she has been able to achieve.
During her four years at Saint Xavier, Amanda has been involved in many activities and leadership roles. She has worked on the Student Government Association for four years and has served as a senator, vice president of commuter relations, executive secretary, and treasurer. Amanda has been a peer mentor for the Transitions classes and also an orientation leader over the summer for three years. Amanda had the opportunity to go on a service trip to Savannah, Ga. – an experience she found to be amazing – and to also attend the Awakenings retreat through Campus Ministry. She is a part of the Education Club, was a student ambassador in her sophomore year and currently works in the Student Affairs office. Amanda is thankful for all the opportunities she has had at Saint Xavier and is grateful to her bosses, faculty, and staff who helped pave her path. Amanda also thanks all those who have influenced her life and have become a family to her.
Sarah Rakauskas is receiving her Masters in School Counseling this May. During this academic year, Sarah interned as a school counselor at a local Catholic high school and taught a section of Sophomore Theology. Sarah says that experience has been powerful – putting what she has learned in the classroom into practice and supporting her caseload of young men as they grow both academically and personally. Sarah credits her Saint Xavier experience as having been formative in her growth as a woman, a student, and a professional. During the past three years, Sarah had the blessing of working in Campus Ministry as a hall minister. This included: directing the Awakenings retreat; supervising and working with resident students to foster a strong sense of community, belonging, and a home away from home in the residence halls; and serving in various other capacities to meet the social and emotional needs of students on campus.
Sarah’s journey at Saint Xavier began seven years ago when she entered as a first-year student. During her undergraduate career, Sarah was heavily involved in various organizations on campus, serving as the President of the Student Activities Board, a Resident Assistant, Peer Minister, Orientation Leader, and hosting her own show on WXAV 88.3 FM called “The Sarahnade.” In her senior year, she was named the Lincoln Academy Student Laureate. She graduated with honors, double majoring in religious studies and sociology. It was a natural choice for Sarah to continue her education at Saint Xavier as her undergraduate experience provided her with wonderful opportunities both in and out of the classroom. Sarah is especially grateful for the relationships she has developed with fellow staff members, outstanding faculty, and inspiring students. Sarah is also indebted to her loving parents, who have supported and encouraged her, and have been an example of what it means to love and serve others. Upon graduation, Sarah hopes to counsel or teach theology in the high school setting.