This year's Finnegan Award candidates: L-R, Patricia Garibaldi, Rebecca Hatcher, winner Marissa Marandola and Laura Mata López. (Photo by Christopher Huang)

Marissa Marandola—a member of the Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program who has distinguished herself through her stellar academic achievement and commitment to public service—received the Rev. Edward H. Finnegan, S.J., Award at the University’s 140th Commencement Exercises on May 23. The award is presented to the graduating senior who best exemplifies the spirit of the University’s motto “Ever to Excel.” 

Marissa Marandola A member of the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program, Marandola was a political science major with minors in American studies and management and leadership. She earned Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Sigma Nu honors and was chosen to be the chief marshal of the Order of the Cross and Crown. 

Marandola was an Undergraduate Research Fellow and recipient of an Advanced Study Grant, for which she produced a 70-page independent case study of the establishment clause case Ahlquist v. Cranston. Her work was ultimately published in the USC Journal of Law and Society.

“Marissa is distinguished by a rare combination of intelligence, intellectual passion, dedication, poise, and good humor,” wrote Assistant Professor of Political Science David Hopkins in support of Marandola’s nomination. 

Marandola served as the editor-in-chief of Elements, the University’s undergraduate research journal, and on the executive board of BC Splash. At the Connors Family Learning Center, she tutored other BC students. 

Last year, she was awarded a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which recognizes outstanding undergraduates committed to public service. Marandola, who is from Cranston, R.I., plans to attend Harvard Law School, followed by a career in government and public service involving educational issues. 

Also nominated for the Finnegan Award were:

Patricia Garibaldi From Pleasantville, N.Y., she is an applied psychology and human development major with minors in management and leadership, theology, and psychology. A member of the Lynch School of Education Honors Program, she was inducted into the Alpha Sigma Nu Honor Society as a junior. 

Since last spring she had worked in the Harvard University Laboratory for Youth Mental Health, immersing herself in all aspects of research related to issues such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. She will continue as a research assistant at the Harvard Lab after graduation.

As a volunteer coordinator for the African Community Economic Development of New England, she selected and trained 15 BC students as volunteer tutors in the afterschool program for young refugees, in addition to serving as a tutor herself.

She also was as a peer advisor for LSOE’s freshman seminar and a volunteer for two years at the Edison K-8 School in Brighton. 

Lynch School Assistant Dean of Undergraduates Audrey Friedman called Garibaldi “one of the rare students who demonstrate genuine grit, discerned focus, and immense resilience.” Halted by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings when she was a half-mile from the finish line, Garibaldi completed two subsequent marathons in Chicago and Boston, raising thousands of dollars for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Melanoma Foundation of New England.


Rebecca (Reba) Hatcher Carroll School of Management double major in accounting and sociology, demonstrated leadership skills in her role as head coordinator of the Student Admission Program, a vital initiative that supplies campus tour guides and student panelists for the Office of Undergraduate Admission. After volunteering as a tour guide and panelist, Hatcher became coordinator of the tours program where she was responsible for interviewing and selecting new tour guides who would showcase the campus to more than 50,000 prospective students and their families. This past year, Hatcher served as head coordinator for the entire program, managing 13 coordinators who organized the efforts of nearly 700 volunteers.

Hatcher also was president of Women in Business, an organization with which she was involved all of her four years at BC. WIB is dedicated to the empowerment and education of female undergraduates.

“She has spent her four years here working hard in and out of class to arrive at where she is now—president of Women in Business, the most active club in the Carroll School, and head of the Student Admission Program,” wrote CSOM Assistant Dean Erica Graf in the letter nominating Hatcher.

“Both commitments require a great deal of attention, leadership, and time management which Reba handles with ease. She is highly respected by her peers and is to be admired for her strong, effective leadership that she exhibits with humility and grace.”

In addition, Hatcher was a 4Boston volunteer at Franciscan Children’s Hospital and a teaching assistant in the Carroll School’s Portico program, and staffed the 48 Hours and Kairos retreats.

The New York City native will be a business consultant staffer with Ernst & Young beginning this summer.

Laura Mata López For the last year, the Connell School of Nursing student served as president of the Massachusetts Student Nurses Association, representing a group of more than 1,000 student nurses. For the MaSNA, she has spearheaded community service projects and organized a career fair attended by more than 100 nursing students.

This Dean’s List student was inducted into the BC chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society for nursing. She was presented with the Connell School’s Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing Program Inclusivity Award for promoting community cohesion while respecting individuals, and for demonstrating a sincere interest in learning and caring about others.

She spent a semester studying public health and liberal arts at the La Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador where she completed a population health nursing clinical placement in a local emergency room. Earlier this year, she participated in the Connell School’s service immersion trip to Nicaragua, working at health centers and conducting research on perceptions of mental illness in Nicaragua.

In her nomination letter for Mata, Connell Undergraduate Associate Dean Sean Clarke wrote that “from her humble beginnings as an immigrant speaking no English,” Mata tirelessly worked to “become an outstanding scholar...selflessly using her talents in service to others.”

By Kathleen Sullivan | News & Public Affairs