Haley Scott DeMaria, a former University of Notre Dame swimmer who returned to competition after a severe spinal cord injury, will deliver the 2015 St. Ambrose University spring commencement address. DeMaria will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
The commencement ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. May 9, at the iWireless Center, 1201 River Dr., Moline, Ill. Degrees will be conferred to 680 individuals: 490 will receive bachelor’s degrees, 188 will receive master’s degrees and two will receive doctoral degrees.
DeMaria sustained a broken spine when a bus carrying the Notre Dame swim team was involved in a rollover crash in January 1992. Although doctors initially feared paralysis, and despite five subsequent surgeries, DeMaria returned to Notre Dame and swam for the Fighting Irish in October 1993, winning her 50-meter freestyle heat with a career-best time.
In recognition of her amazing effort and recovery, DeMaria received the 1993 Spirit of Notre Dame Award, the 1994 Honda Award for Inspiration and the 1994 Gene Autry Courage in Sport Award. She was named Woman of the Year at the National Women’s Leadership Conference in 1994.
In 2008 DeMaria wrote her autobiography, “What Though The Odds.” A film version of that story, “Two Miles from Home,” is in pre-production and soon is expected to join “Rudy” and “The Knute Rockne Story” as one of three movies allowed to be filmed on the Notre Dame campus.
DeMaria holds a bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame and a master of arts in teaching degree from the University of Southern California. She and her husband, Jamie, have two sons.
“Haley Scott DeMaria is a truly inspiring woman and she will be a terrific model for our Class of 2015, as well as for the entire St. Ambrose community,” said St. Ambrose University President Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ. “We are delighted and privileged to have her as our commencement speaker.”
The following commencement events are scheduled May 8 and 9:
Friday, May 8
• The College of Business will hold its graduate hooding ceremony in Christ the King Chapel on campus at 5 p.m. A reception will follow in Cosgrove dining hall.
• The College of Arts and Sciences and College of Health and Human Services’ joint graduate hooding ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. in the Galvin Fine Arts Center. A reception will follow in the Rogalski Center.
• The nursing pinning ceremony will be held in Galvin Fine Arts at 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 9
• Commencement Mass will be celebrated in Christ the King Chapel at 9 a.m. All graduates, families and friends are welcome, regardless of faith.
• A brunch for graduates, families and guests will be held in the Rogalski Center from 10-11:30 a.m. Menu features scrambled eggs, cheesy hash brown bake, French toast triangles, ham, pastries, fruit, coffee and assorted drinks. Cost is $8 for adult; $4 for children ages 6-12 and free for children age 5 and younger. Tickets may be purchased online at www.sau.edu/commencement.
• Commencement ceremony begins at 1 p.m. at the I wireless Center, 1201 River Dr., Moline, Ill. Seating is open and tickets are not required. The public is invited.
For more information on commencement activities visit www.sau.edu/commencement.
Students or guests needing special accommodations should contact the Services for Students with Disabilities office at (563) 333-6275.