Two St. Bonaventure University students who excelled in and out of the classroom and who embrace Franciscan values were recognized as the Ideal Bonaventure Students for the graduating class of 2015.
Andrew M. “Drew” Belfield, the Ideal Bonaventure Man, and Shannon K. Conheady, the Ideal Bonaventure Woman, were recognized on Saturday, May 16, during the university’s Honors Ceremony, and again Sunday during its 155th Commencement Exercises.
Remarkably, both students attended Churchville-Chili High School in suburban Rochester.
The Ideal Bonaventure Students exemplify the spirit of St. Bonaventure and the ideals of St. Francis through community service and academic excellence. They are selected by a committee that considers nominations from the campus community.
Belfield earned bachelor’s degrees in theology and philosophy. He is a son of Anne Camp and Mark Belfield.
Conheady earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in journalism and mass communication. She is a daughter of Daniel and Marianne Conheady.
The honorable mentions were Alex Gu, a biology major from Chappaqua, N.Y., and Audrey J. Mooradian, a psychology major from Canton, N.Y.
Belfield, whose long-term goal is to complete a Ph.D. in Catholic systematic theology and become a university professor so that he can share with others his love of theology, is passionate about his chosen field.
His interest in Thomas Merton has led him to attend several academic conferences on Merton’s life and theology and serve as a student intern at one of them. The Reed: An Undergraduate Journal of Existentialism published his article “Raining on the Absurd: Entering into Solitude with Thomas Merton.” His honors project extended the research and was titled “Raining on the Absurd: Existence and Solitude in Camus and Merton.”
Dr. Chris Stanley, professor of theology and Belfield’s academic adviser, describes the student as “a natural thinker who exhibits the kind of integration of faith and intellect that one sees in the great Franciscan theologians such as St. Bonaventure himself.”
Belfield welcomes the challenge of building community among his peers, and mobilizing others to achieve a common goal.
In particular, say members of the Student Affairs division, Belfield is wonderful at seamlessly connecting what he does in the classroom with his leadership role as a resident assistant: Approaching his position as an RA as that of a servant, he seeks to discover what his students need by getting to know them on an individual basis and treating each student with dignity and respect.
“Drew’s faith is very important to him, but I think one of the most amazing things about Drew is that he lives out his faith very naturally. His peace-seeking nature and his intellectual understanding of the university’s mission and traditions, make him an ideal Bonaventure man,” said Nichole Gonzalez, executive director for Residential Living and Conduct at the university.
Because his fellow RAs recognized Belfield as a mentor, he was elected to serve as an RA Mentor for his senior year, a new position that began this year. In this role, he served as liaison between the RAs and the professional staff.
Belfield has also been a part of Music Ministry on campus, where he helps to choose the music for Sunday liturgies and plays bass guitar and sings during Mass. On top of all of these accomplishments, he was a founding member of the SBU Running Club.
Following graduation, Belfield plans to attend Loyola (Md.) University in pursuit of a master’s degree in theological studies. There, he will have the opportunity to continue serving the student body as a graduate assistant for Social Justice and Interfaith Dialogue.
Conheady strongly believes in fostering mutual understanding and bridging cultural divides. It is in this spirit that she participated in a cultural affairs exchange program, applied for a Fulbright, and spent a semester studying abroad in Ireland.
This past week Conheady learned she has been selected for a 2015-2016 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to the Slovak Republic as an English teaching assistant.
Conheady is incredibly committed to human rights, especially for women and people with disabilities. Her honors project, “How the Backlash against the 1970s Feminist Movement Affects College Campuses Today,” addressed a most important and timely topic — rape and sexual assaults on college campuses. The project combined historical research, analysis of current events, and a photo essay. A paper discussing her research has been accepted at a regional conference of Phi Alpha Theta.
Conheady has been on the dean’s list every semester and is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Honors Society, Phi Alpha Theta and Pi Delta Phi and is a recipient of the St. Bonaventure Friar’s Scholarship and Maureen J. Shanahan Memorial Scholarship.
She has been active in many campus activities, serving in leadership positions in several organizations. She served as president of the rugby club and co-editor of the History Department Blog and has been a member of Bonacoustics and Tread Lightly. She also tutored in the Higher Education Opportunity Program and was a tutor at BOCES in Gates, N.Y.
During the summers of 2014 and 2013, Conheady worked on campus for the Department of State’s Study of the U.S. Institute. In this role, she worked with Latin American students who spent several weeks in the U.S. learning about American history and culture. Along similar lines, she has welcomed high school students and their parents to campus in her position as a student ambassador within the Admissions Office.
“Shannon believes strongly in making this world a better place,” said Dr. Joel Horowitz, professor of history. “She has worked for environmental causes. She has worked to make the lives of people better through her actions to help autistic children or improve the academic experience of students here at SBU.”
For example, this year she worked closely with Department of History Chair Phillip Payne to create history labs to offer help to students taking history courses who are struggling. These meetings were particularly beneficial to students who are taking history courses for their core curriculum requirements and who didn’t feel comfortable with the subject matter.
In this same vein, Conheady captained the women’s club rugby team. Many of her teammates and friends credit her with the survival of the club during a time when it did not have an adviser. She organized their schedule, training and matches.
Conheady has repeatedly tutored at her local BOCES to work with students with special needs.
“Every time she talks about that experience, she radiates joy and passion to help others succeed,” said Dr. Maddalena Marinari, assistant professor of history. “Shannon truly incarnates everything that Bonaventure stands for. In addition to being an outstanding student and an amazing human being, she is incredibly committed to serving her community and helping others.”
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #3 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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