Smith named valedictorian of Wheeling University’s Class of 2021

kayla smith

WHEELING — Kayla Smith of Shadyside is the valedictorian of Wheeling University’s Class of 2021.

Megan Mangia of Columbus, Ohio, is the salutatorian. University President Ginny R. Favede announced both honorees last week.

Having earned the highest grade point average in the class, Smith, an exercise science major, will give the valedictory address during the University’s 63rd Commencement exercises at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 1, on Bishop Schmitt Field.

Favede said, “Kayla and Megan are wonderful examples of how Wheeling University students excel in the classroom. I am looking forward to the opportunity to celebrate the joys and triumphs of our students’ time at Wheeling, especially their perseverance through the disruptions of this past year at this year’s commencement. This is truly special and a privilege for all of us at Wheeling University.”

Smith, the vice president of the Exercise Science Club, said, “Attending Wheeling not only gave me a great deal of knowledge in the field of exercise science, but it also provided me with knowledge about life and how important it is to help and serve others. I have had the opportunity to be taught and mentored by well-educated professors who genuinely care about the students and our well-being.”

Following Commencement, Smith plans to work as an exercise physiologist at a rehabilitation clinic in Wheeling and further her education in the medical field.

Mangia, a nursing major, was selected as the salutatorian for having earned the second-highest grade point average in the class. She is a Laut Honors student and Arrupe Scholar. Mangia is a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society for nurses. Additionally, Mangia was a member of the women’s lacrosse team and a HESS mentor.

She plans to work as a critical care registered nurse at a Columbus hospital and eventually return to school to earn a certified registered nurse anesthetist degree.

U.S. Congressman David McKinley, R-W.Va., will serve as the 2021 Commencement speaker and be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the university for his work on behalf of the people of West Virginia.

Wheeling University’s Baccalaureate was held at 6 p.m. Friday on Bishop Schmitt Field, with the Most Rev. Mark Brennan, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, presiding.

To help ensure the health and safety of those attending, the university will socially distance all those in attendance at the events and follow recent CDC mask requirements for outdoor events.

For those who wish to watch virtually, the event will be livestreamed at mountaineast.tv/wheeling/?B=265986.


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