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Loyola Commencement To Honor Five Outstanding Graduates As Ignatian Award Recipients

Loyola press release - May 20, 2016

Ignatian Awards recognize university involvement, strong faith commitment, distinguished GPA and positive representation of Loyola New Orleans

The Ignatian Awards, the highest honor given to graduating seniors and graduate students by Loyola University New Orleans, will be presented at the Baccalaureate Mass at 4 p.m. this Friday, May 20th. Nominations were open to any member of the Loyola University New Orleans community to recognize students who demonstrate Ignatian, Jesuit values through service to others, high integrity of life and the advancement of religion and citizenship.

Spirit of St. Ignatius Award, College of Law: Prior to her time at Loyola University New Orleans Law School, Kaitlin L. Locascio graduated from the University of San Francisco in international studies and world religions. While at USF, Ms. Locascio traveled internationally with various organizations contributing to solutions for human trafficking, child soldiers and Israeli-Palestinian peace. Her aid towards social justice initiatives has continued throughout her time in New Orleans, assisting with the Loyola Immigration Clinic, Catholic Charities and currently serving as the editor-in-chief at the Journal of Public Interest Law.

Outstanding Graduate Student: Kayla M. August, a 2010 alumna, is graduating with her Masters of Pastoral Studies from Loyola’s Institute of Ministry. Throughout her years at Loyola, Kayla served as an intern in the Office of Mission and Ministry, an academic success coordinator with Boys Hope Girls Hope, as well as president of the Louisiana Association of Catholic Campus Ministers. Her nominators describe that Kayla reflects the selfless love of Christ in every one of her actions. In addition to her reception of the 2010 Ignatian Award for Outstanding Woman as an undergraduate student, Ms. August will now receive the award as a graduate student.

Outstanding Senior Man: Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English writing, Phillip Michael Kane has undoubtedly left a lasting footprint with his service to numerous facets of both campus life and local initiatives. His time at Loyola includes involvement on the Residence Hall Council, an Admissions student ambassador, SGA senator, Awakening Retreat participant and staff member, Loyola University Community Action Program volunteer and member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. Following graduation, Mr. Kane will be pursuing a master’s degree through the University of Portland, Oregon and teaching world and American literature in Hawaii through the Pacific Alliance for Catholic Education Program.

Outstanding Senior Woman: Two women are being recognized as 2016 Ignatian Award recipients for Outstanding Senior Women, Francesca Vaccaro and Rachel Comeaux.

Francesca Vaccaro is a first-generation scholar-athlete graduating summa cum laude in biochemistry and mathematics. While maintaining a 4.00 GPA, two of Francesca’s peer-reviewed journal articles were published, she served as president of the Loyola chapter of the American Chemistry Society as well contributed to several on-campus groups. Ms. Vaccaro is known to exemplify Jesuit values throughout her involvement within and outside of Loyola, including her roles as coordinator of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion for Ignatius Chapel, Ignacio volunteer in Kingston, Jamaica as well as a volunteer for many other local organizations. Francesca will begin working as a teaching assistant with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Sacramento, California, following graduation.

Rachel Comeaux has been awarded Outstanding Senior woman alongside Francesca Vaccaro for her extensive representation of Ignatian leadership in her time at Loyola. Rachel led the Omicron Delta Kappa Scholarship and Serve Honors Society as president and founded Mission Imprint, a highly successful literacy program for children in New Orleans. Rachel volunteered as a teacher and tutor for several local organizations, including Anna’s Place and Catholic Charities Head Start. She has twice received the Magis Student Leadership Award as outstanding Sophomore and Junior leader. Ms. Comeaux will begin teaching elementary school at the ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy following graduation.

The Ignatian Awards are the highest awards available to graduating seniors and a graduate student. The awards are presented to at the Baccalaureate Mass. The College of Law awards its own, similar honor, the Spirit of St. Ignatius Award, which is presented at the Law Graduation Mass.