College of New Rochelle to Confer 1,200 Degrees
CLINIC Executive Director Maria Odom to Receive Honorary Degree
The College of New Rochelle (CNR) will celebrate its 103rd Commencement as it graduates the Class of 2010. The College will award approximately 1,200 baccalaureate and master’s degrees during commencement exercises on Thursday, May 27, 2010, 11:00 a.m. at Radio City Music Hall.
This year at Commencement the College will confer honorary degrees on four distinguished recipients:
Immaculee Ilibagiza, who will give the Commencement Address, is a woman of steadfast faith, a faith deepened by her experience of atrocity and survival, a faith which led her to be an extraordinary example of the Gospel call to love, forgiveness and peace. She is living the message of the encyclical letter, Caritas in Veritate, which reminds us “Love –caritas—is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace.”
Born into a loving faith-filled family in Rwanda, she was greatly encouraged to study and excel in school by her father who believed strongly in the importance of education, especially for girls. She studied electronic and mechanical engineering at the National University of Rwanda.
It was while she was a student home for Easter that she directly experienced
the evil and devastating fruits grown from the seeds of ethnic and racial hatred. For three months that Spring of 1994, the nation of Rwanda descended into one of the most vicious and bloody genocides the world has ever seen. She miraculously survived the savage killing spree that took the lives of most of her family and friends and more than a million of her fellow citizens; she credits that survival to prayer and to the set of rosary beads given to her by her devout Catholic father before she went into hiding. As she heard the voices of killers who sought her calling her name, she formed a deeper and more profound and transforming relationship with God that transcended the bloodshed. The further growth of this relationship with God and its centrality to her life has led her to understand that she was “left to tell.” Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust is the title of her first book that narrates her story, the story of devastation, of hatred, and the necessity of love and forgiveness if humanity is to reach its potential of the fullness of life. Immaculee’s story has been made into a documentary titled The Diary of Immaculee.
In her subsequent books, Led by Faith: Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide, Our Lady of Kibeho, and If Only We Had Listened, she further explores and espouses the necessity of sharing with one another the experience of God’s unconditional love for each person.
Now living in the United States with her two children, she shares widely her message of faith inspired love, and uses funds she raises and proceeds from her books to support the “Left to Tell” foundation to assist African children orphaned by genocide.
Her many awards include the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace in 2007, American Legacy’s Women of Strength and Courage Award, inclusion in the “Architects of Peace” project, and honorary degrees from The University of Notre Dame, Saint John’s University, Seton Hall University, Siena College, and Walsh University.
Maria M. Odom is a champion of social justice, placing her legal acumen in the service of migrants and immigrants, the vulnerable, poor, and marginalized of American society. An experienced and dedicated immigration attorney, skilled in removal, asylum and deportation defense, she is well known for her work in complex asylum matters, high-profile immigration removal and criminal alien cases, and cancellation of removal litigation. She has personally represented myriad immigrants, from asylum seekers, religious workers, juveniles, victims of domestic violence, and corporations seeking to bring and keep talented and essential workers.
A native of Puerto Rico, she relocated to the United States at the age of 16. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminology from Florida State University and a Juris Doctor from Mercer University. She and her husband, Douglas, are the proud parents of Thomas and Emilia Odom.
Maria Odom began her career at the U.S. Department of Justice where she served as the Assistant District Counsel for two years to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. She is a former partner in the widely known and respected firms of Antonini, Odom & Sullivan, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia and Kuck Casablanca & Odom, LLC, a multi-state law firm where she oversaw immigration cases in U. S. Courts and represented clients in family-based and employment-based immigration issues.
She has served as liaison with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and has previously served as a member of the National Detention and Removal Liaison Committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). She has been a faculty member for continued legal education and AILA legal seminars.
She donates her time as teacher at the Latino Law School and as a consultant on removal matters to fellow immigration attorneys nationwide. Recognized by business and community groups for her pro bono work on behalf of vulnerable immigrants, particularly children and asylum seekers facing deportation, she has also mentored fellow immigration lawyers in Atlanta and the Southeast. In 2008 she was selected by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as Hispanic Businesswoman of the Year because of her expertise and her service to the Hispanic community.
She has co-chaired “Scott’s Run”, named for Scott Starratt, an immigration officer who died in 2001 and who was known for his compassion for immigrant children. This fundraising event for the Archdiocese of Atlanta helps fund free legal services for immigrant children in removal proceedings which would otherwise result in their being separated from their families. She is an active parishioner and possesses both a deep understanding of and an abiding commitment to the social teachings of the Catholic Church, especially as it pertains to migrants and immigrants.
In 2009 she was appointed Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), which was founded by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1988 “to enhance and expand delivery of legal services to indigent and low-income immigrants principally through diocesan immigration programs and to meet the immigration needs indentified by the Catholic Church in the United States.”
Mary Healey-Sedutto and Stanley Kosan, a remarkable husband and wife team, linked their considerable expertise and talents to create a unique project in healthcare: Hope for a Healthier Humanity.
This project utilizes and organizes volunteer health professionals and students and integrates education with direct healthcare delivery to enhance and expand healthcare, thus creating a cascade effect for maximization of healthcare delivery to Latin Americans without accessible or adequate healthcare.
Adding a further dimension to their first project, they subsequently founded the Pan American Catholic Health Care Network (PACHCN), an international healthcare network which provides coordinative and supportive services to healthcare agencies and leadership of the Health Pastoral of the Roman Catholic Church in Caribbean and Latin American countries. Together Hope for a Healthier Humanity (HHH) and the Pan American Catholic Health Care Network (PACHCN) provide organization and opportunity through regular international dialogue for healthcare practitioners and agencies to share information and strategies to improve efficiency and access in healthcare delivery in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the midst of the sometimes rancorous debate about domestic healthcare issues in the United States, Hope for a Healthier Humanity draws attention to the larger global perspective on healthcare, especially to the healthcare needs of radically underserved populations of Latin America and the Caribbean. In the countries of Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and, Haiti Hope for a Healthier Humanity has provided strategic planning and technical healthcare delivery support through donations of medical equipment and supplies and volunteer teams of visiting physicians, dentists and nurses who provide free service and education.
Mary Healey-Sedutto, Vice Rector of the Catholic University of Honduras and Executive Director of Hope for a Healthier Humanity, has spent the last 35 years of her professional career in a variety of roles all dedicated to the advancement of healthcare. She received her Bachelor’s degree from City University and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Public Administration from New York University. She began her career in healthcare administration at Seaview Hospital and Home and has served in administrative leadership roles at Richmond Memorial Hospital and Health Center, Staten Island University Hospital, and St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center.
In 1995 she became President of Providence Health Services, serving as liaison between the Archdiocese of New York and its subsidiary healthcare institutions and she later created the Providence Health Services Foundation to secure support to assist the advancement of the ministry of healing within the Archdiocese. She was appointed Director of the Secretariat of Health for the Archdiocese, which was responsible for policy and administration of Archdiocesan-affiliated health care institutions, including over 60 hospitals, nursing homes, child care agencies, home care agencies, schools of nursing and a medical school. Later that year she was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Health Care System of the Archdiocese of New York.
In addition to her administrative roles she has served as an Assistant Professor at New York Medical College and taught at St. Francis College, Jersey City State College, the Graduate School of Health and Human Services of the New School for Social Research, and The College of New Rochelle School of Nursing. She has served on many hospital and healthcare agency Boards and has written and published about global public health issues, long term care, and geriatric care.
Stanley Kosan is Vice Rector, School of Dentistry, of the Catholic University of Honduras and Chairman of Hope for a Healthier Humanity. After receiving his Doctor of Dentistry degree from New York University, he served in the United States Navy attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He began his private dentistry practice in Staten Island, where he also served as Director of Outpatient Department and Assistant Chief of Dentistry at Sea View Hospital and Home. He subsequently held leadership positions in Departments of Dentistry at Richmond Memorial Hospital, Bayley Seton Hospital and St. Clare’s Hospital. He has taught at New York Medical College, New York University School of Dentistry, and Mt. Sinai Hospital Department of Dentistry.
His publications have focused especially on Dental Treatment of H.I.V. Disease and Dental Delivery for Special Care and Handicapped Patients. His extensive humanitarian service has included being on the Latin American International Healthcare Partnership Team of the Archdiocese of New York, the Disaster Relief Advisory Council of the Archdiocese, New York City Health Systems Agency, Borough President’s Task Force for the Handicapped, Mayor’s Health Services Workgroup for HIV, Past President of the Dental Society of New York State, Richmond County, Academy of General Dentistry, Trustee of American Cancer Society in Staten Island and Consortium of Dental Directors for HIV Services and Dental Alliance for HIV/AIDS Care. He has received the ADA Award for International Volunteerism in Dentistry and National Recognition Award for Volunteerism, AERA FUERZA, Honduras.
Photographed above: From left are Michael N. Ambler, Esq., Chairman of the Board of Trustees; honorary degree recipients, Commencement Speaker Immaculée Ilibagiza; Maria M. Odom, Esq.; Mary Healey Sedutto, Ph.D.; A. Stanley Kosan, D.D.S.; and CNR President Stephen J. Sweeny, Ph.D.
Read more about the honorees: http://www.cnr.edu/AboutCNR/NewsandEvents?nid=380
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