Defiance College holds commencement; awards honorary degree to Howard Reich

May 6, 2019

DEFIANCE, Ohio – One hundred and forty-eight graduates were awarded diplomas during Defiance College's 2019 commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 4. Howard Reich was recognized with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.


Howard Reich is an award-winning reporter for the Chicago Tribune and the author of six books. His book The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich inspired the PBS documentary film "Prisoner of her Past," which he wrote, narrated, and co-produced. Reich has won an Emmy Award, two Deems Taylor Awards from ASCAP, the Alumni Merit Award from Northwestern University, the Bravo Award from Dominican University, the Anne Keegan Award and eight Peter Lisagor Awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, and an Excellence in Journalism Award from the Chicago Association of Black Journalists. The Chicago Journalists Association named him Chicago Journalist of the Year in 2011 and has given him three Sarah Brown Boyden Awards.

Howard Reich speaking at a Defiance College podium

Also recognized during the ceremony were Pilgrim Medal recipients Dr. Carolyn Walters, a 1969 alumna and adjunct professor of Defiance College, and graduating senior Elyzabeth King, Mechanicsburg. The Pilgrim Medal is the highest honor awarded by the College and recognizes specific traits in awardees: reliance in self, pride in work, courage in conscience, strength in education, and faith in God.

Delivering the commencement address was Dr. Terry Boyd, a 1978 alumnus of Defiance College. He is an emeritus professor at Franklin University in Columbus. In 2017, Dr. Boyd was honored by Defiance College with the Schauffler Legacy Award.

Elyzabeth King, Mechanicsburg, spoke on behalf of the graduating class.

Receiving diplomas were:

Bachelor of Arts

Randall Aikins, Jr., Detroit, Mich.; Daniel Ainsworth III, Sherwood, Ohio, summa cum laude; Ian Alvarez, Defiance; Jorian Beery, Wadsworth, Ohio; Corey Bennett, Jr., Tampa, Fla.; Xavier Blyden, Bridgeport, Conn.; Jordan Brown, Bryan, Ohio; Tanner Clingaman, Stryker, Ohio, summa cum laude; Austin Conlon, Paulding, Ohio, cum laude; Jennifer Deneau, Addison, Mich., cum laude; Reeka Edwards, St. Mary, Jamaica, magna cum laude; Henna Frank, Petersburg, Mich., summa cum laude; McKenzie Hall, Defiance; John Hancock, Defiance, magna cum laude; Jacqueline Hartman, Parma, Ohio, magna cum laude; Conrad Lausch, West Unity, Ohio; Brett Hook, Hicksville, Ohio; Tanner Hughes, Pierceton, Ind.;

Elyzabeth King, Mechanicsburg, Ohio, summa cum laude; Ring Lardner, Milford, Del.; Ashley Lee, Millington, Mich.; Israel Martinez, Defiance, Ohio; Hunter Massingill, Monroe, Mich.; Sonia Mendez, Defiance, magna cum laude; M. Renee Mendieta-Schafer, North Baltimore, Ohio; Matthew Meyer, Defiance; Drake Moening, Defiance, cum laude; Jalin Nealy, Pontiac, Mich.; Jordan Osborne, Delaware, Ohio, magna cum laude; Megan Overmann, Lorain, Ohio, magna cum laude; Haley Powers, Swanton, Ohio; Mason Rapp, Fortville, Ind., cum laude; Amie-Jo Ricksecker, Jenera, Ohio, magna cum laude; Haley Saylor, Payne, Ohio, magna cum laude; Clayton Stark, Edgerton, Ohio; Damion Tall, Jr., Toledo, Ohio, cum laude; and Tyler Weaver, Defiance. 

Bachelor of Science

Anthony Adamic, Chardon, Ohio, cum laude; Daniel Ainsworth, III, Sherwood, Ohio, summa cum laude; Mark Andonegui, Defiance; Tracy Armey, Liberty Center, Ohio; Da’Ja’Nay Askew, Crown Point, Ind., summa cum laude; Gina Baird, Bryan, Ohio, cum laude; James Baranoski, Jr., Bloomingdale, Mich.; Beau Barkley, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Michaela Bauer, Hicksville, Ohio, summa cum laude; Noah Beach, Ada, Ohio, cum laude; Jennifer Bechtold, Mark Center, Ohio, cum laude; Emma Bedan, Cincinnati, Ohio, cum laude; Connor Behringer, Defiance; Jacob Bickel, Fort Wayne, Ind.; Deanna Bischoff, Toledo, Ohio; Chelsey Braunwart, Trenton, Ohio, magna cum laude; Andrew Brown, Englewood, Ohio; William Bruhn, Wixom, Mich.; Wyatt Cadmus, Tecumseh, Mich.; Pamela Carey, Durham, Conn.;

Javier Castillo, Tucson, Ariz.; Glen Collier, Zionsville, Ind.; Brooke Combs, Paulding, Ohio; Morgan Connor, Curtice, Ohio, summa cum laude; Madysyn Creighton, Lynchburg, Ohio, magna cum laude; Jessica Crigger, Battle Creek, Mich.; Tyler Davie, Cincinnati, Ohio; Mackenzie Durdak, Lorain, Ohio, cum laude; Nicholas Eberly, Powell, Ohio; Samantha Ervin, Bowling Green, Ohio; Madison Etter, Cloverdale, Ohio, magna cum laude; Andrew Fahler, Wellington, Ohio; Sidney Faine, Bluffton, Ohio, magna cum laude; Aerica Firman, Defiance, magna cum laude; Alexandra Fowler, Seville, Ohio; Kody Fuller, Wabash, Ind., cum laude; Michael Gilliland, Napoleon, Ohio, magna cum laude; Marcelino Gonzalez, Jr., East Chicago, Ind.; Spencer Gray, Grand Rapids, Ohio, summa cum laude; Megan Greene, Defiance, cum laude;

Rebekah Groden, North Olmsted, Ohio; Mathan Grubmaer, Grand Rapids, Ohio, cum laude; Jared Guerra, Chardon, Ohio, magna cum laude; Jacqueline Hartman, Parma Ohio, magna cum laude; Casey Helton, Defiance; Hannah Hesterman, Ridgeville Corners, Ohio, summa cum laude; Laurie Hockenberry, Defiance; Jenny Holbrooks, Oakwood, Ohio; Keri Hupp, Louisville, Ohio; Kathryn Mary Cassady Inboden, Logan, Ohio,  magna cum laude; Logan Jones, Columbus, Ohio; Jamie Kimbler, Huber Heights, Ohio; Elyzabeth King, Mechanicsburg, Ohio, summa cum laude; Brandon Knapp, Michigan Center, Mich.; Troy Konwinski, Allen Park, Mich.; Christina Kuckuck, Sylvania, Ohio; Kaitlyn Kuhn, Celina, Ohio, magna cum laude; Tyler Lown, Milan, Mich.; Beau Massingill, Monroe, Mich., summa cum laude; Nicholas Mesnard, Petoskey, Mich.; Matthew Meyer, Defiance; Kendra Michaelis, Napoleon, Ohio, magna cum laude; Jonathon Mielke, Wauseon, Ohio, summa cum lade; Grace Mitchell, Defiance, cum laude; Alyssa Mlot, Richmond, Mich.; Zachary Morris, Defiance; Taylor Niese, Continental, Ohio; Kelsey Parker, Bowling Green, Ohio, magna cum laude; Haley Patty, Bradford, Ohio, cum laude;

Christiane Ramirez, Defiance, magna cum laude; Raychel Ramos, Wauseon, Ohio; Mason Rapp, Fortville, Ind., cum laude; Taylor Reed, Wauseon, Ohio; Kayla Rethmel, Defiance, summa cum laude; Lynette Roberts, Defiance, magna cum laude; Nathaniel Roberts, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Derek Rupp, Wauseon, Ohio, cum laude; Sherri Schenkel, Bryan, Ohio; Thomas Scott, Cincinnati, Ohio, cum laude; Christy Sierra, Defiance; Benjamin Singer, Dublin, Ind.; Breanna Smith, Eastlake, Ohio; Tanner Stippich, Lima, Ohio; Katie Thiel, Antwerp, Ohio, cum laude; Sean VandeWile, Fishers, Ind.; Savontre Vaughn, Defiance; Grant Vickery, Bellevue, Ohio, cum laude; Cayla Walker, Archbold, Ohio, summa cum laude; Allante Wheeler, Canton, Mich.; Kaytlyn Williamson, Prospect, Ohio, cum laude; Elizabeth Willitzer, Defiance; Marissa Windau, Castalia, Ohio, cum laude; Emmalyn Wooley, Wauseon, Ohio; Jordyn Worley, Eaton, Ohio; Aimee Wulff, Hicksville, Ohio, cum laude; and Brandon Zartman, Paulding, Ohio. 

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Anthony Righi, Liberty Center, Ohio. 

Master of Arts in Education

Michelle Reinhart, Antwerp, Ohio, and Kathleen Rice-Vitek, Bryan, Ohio. 

Master of Business Administration

Chad Carlson, Rockford, Mich.; Joshua DeGroff, Stryker, Ohio; Clayton Fox, Berlin Heights, Ohio; Christina Gebers, Defiance; Kristin Henning, Beavercreek, Ohio; Sterling Johnson, Clinton Township, Mich.; and Kylie Kahlig, Fort Recovery, Ohio. 

Associate of Arts

Anthony Adamic, Chardon, Ohio; Stephan Beasley, Jr., Columbus, Ohio; Megan Greene, Defiance; Jared Guerra, Chardon, Ohio; and Nathan Hayman, Defiance.

Defiance College, chartered in 1850, is an independent, liberal arts-based institution in Northwest Ohio offering more than 40 undergraduate programs of study as well as graduate programs in education and business. Defiance College has received national recognition for its educational experience of service and engagement. The College website is