Academics Building

American Public University System Honors Class of 2022 and Several Award Recipients at In-Person Commencement

U.S. Army Major General Barbara Fast (Retired) Encourages Action in Keynote

Charles Town, WV—June 18, 2022 –  American Public University System (APUS), which offers online degree and certificate programs through American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU), proudly celebrated over 14,000 graduates and recognized numerous award recipients at its 26th annual commencement on Friday and Saturday. The ceremony marked the first in-person graduation since 2019, due to the pandemic.

“Remember to always follow your passion, set new paths, embark on new journeys, and do not be afraid to embrace the next challenge that comes your way,” said APUS Acting President Dr. Katherine Zatz in her convocation address. “This is what you are now prepared to do, to take the theory you have learned as a scholar and use this knowledge to infuse your decisions as a practitioner in your chosen field.”

U.S. Army Major General Barbara Fast (retired), President of BGF Enterprises, delivered the keynote speech, saying, “There’s an expression that knowledge is power, but I believe that knowledge gives you the power to be good or bad. It’s how, and for what purpose, you use this knowledge that makes the difference. Use your power for good to improve your life and the lives of those around you.” APUS awarded General Fast the Doctor of Public Service, Honoris Causa, in recognition of her extraordinary achievements in service and academia.

Maria Clark spoke as a representative of the Class of 2022 at the graduate level, and Ethan Grow gave remarks on behalf of the Class of 2022 at the undergraduate level.

The awards presented at commencement recognized students, faculty, and alumni who have excelled and positively impacted their community during their time at APUS and beyond. In addition to the Class of 2022 awardees, APUS recognized a total of 62 award winners from classes of 2020 and 2021 at commencement. This year’s class, which includes over 8,600 military service members, 2,600 veterans and over 3,800 service minded students, comprises students who finished their studies in the previous 12 months, from August 2021–June 1, 2022. Among the Class of 2022, 39 individuals received awards.

Among the most prestigious awards, The Mary Kim Ward Resilience and Service Award recognizes resilience, patience, and determination, and a student’s impact and influence on public service, social justice, and inclusion. This year’s winner was Philysha Beneby, a Navy veteran with a Master’s in Psychology from AMU. In addition to trauma counseling, she gives back as a peer specialist, providing services for homeless communities in the Palm Beach, Fl. area.

Alumna Dr. Awilda Hernandez was recognized with the 2022 Wallace E. Boston Leadership Award. The award honors the positive impact she has made in the community, including her efforts to help victims of domestic violence. Sherrie Dennee, Director of Academic Advising at APUS, received the 2022 James P. Etter Creativity and Innovation Award, which recognizes her as a catalyst for organizational growth who has helped to foster and lead with a “student first” approach.

Recipients for the 2022 President’s Award were honored at both the undergraduate and graduate level for their commitment to service, scholastic achievement, outstanding character, and leadership. Nicolaus Hucal, a Staff Seargent in the U.S. Air Force who graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Intelligence Studies from AMU, was honored at the undergraduate level. James Hodgman, the graduate level recipient who received a Master of Arts in Management, was recognized for volunteering his time to both veteran engagement efforts and mental health crisis intervention.

The Academic Scholar Award was given to students who have engaged in excellent scholarly conduct and accomplishments during their studies. Among the Class of 2022, recipients are Amy Everson, Hannah Via, Maria Clark, Dina Fontenelle, Adrienne Fisher, Roderick Davenport, Angela Luckey, David Ruiz, Dr. Wahidullah Mayar, and Vanessa Zander.

About American Public University System

American Public University System (APUS) delivers accessible and affordable online higher education to adult learners of all backgrounds. APUS, a five-time recipient of Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) Effective Practice Award, offers more than 200 online degree and certificate programs through American Public University as well as American Military University, the #1 provider of higher education to the U.S. military and veterans.* With over 116,000 alumni worldwide, APUS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. APUS is a wholly owned subsidiary of American Public Education, Inc. (Nasdaq: APEI). For more information, visit

*Based on FY 2019 Department of Defense tuition assistance and Veterans Administration student enrollment data, as reported by Military Times, 2020.

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Frank Tutalo

Frank Tutalo
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