Survivor of Notre Dame bus crash to speak at Seton Hill commencement
Haley Scott DeMaria, an author and motivational speaker who made an inspiring recovery from a fatal bus crash involving the University of Notre Dame's swimming team, will be the featured speaker at Seton Hill University’s spring 2013 commencement exercises on Saturday, May 11 at 11 a.m. in the Salvitti Gymnasium in the McKenna Center on the Greensburg campus.
Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, a Latrobe native and former Trustee of Seton Hill, whose business portfolio includes enterprises in golf course design and management as well as the automotive industry, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Palmer’s philanthropic outreach has funded a cancer treatment facility – The Arnold Palmer Pavilion – near Latrobe and hospitals for women and children in Florida.
E. Ronald Salvitti, M.D., an innovator in the field of opthalmic surgery and a standout basketball player at Washington & Jefferson College, will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Science. Salvitti, along with his late wife, Seton Hill alumna Constance Angotti Salvitti, has been an ardent supporter of Seton Hill and the University’s students. Their leadership commitment of $1 million helped fund Seton Hill’s McKenna Recreation Center, where the gymnasium is named in their honor. The couple also provided start-up funds for the University’s nationally acclaimed physician assistant program.
Scott DeMaria will tell the story of her triumph over tragedy to Seton Hill’s graduates, their families and friends as they gather for commencement.
“At a time when our campus is mourning a terrible loss of our own, we are sustained by Haley’s story of courage and perseverance,” Seton Hill President JoAnne Boyle said. “Embraced by a strong, faith-based community, Haley chose to write a story for herself different from the one that had been cast on the fateful night she lost two friends and teammates.”
Scott DeMaria, 39, a native of Phoenix, Ariz., will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during commencement.
“Our commencement speaker and honorary degree recipients are each examples of courage and grace in their athletic endeavors and in their life’s work,” Boyle said.
Scott DeMaria’s invitation to speak at commencement comes after she extended her condolences and support to Seton Hill following the March 16 bus accident that took the lives of Seton Hill Women’s Lacrosse Coach Kristina Quigley and her unborn son as well as the driver of the bus.
Scott DeMaria, who now lives in Annapolis, Md., is the author of “What Though the Odds: Haley Scott’s Journey of Faith and Triumph,” which chronicles the accident, her recovery and how her teammates, classmates and campus community helped her in her journey. The book title borrows a line from Notre Dame's fight song.
Scott DeMaria was a freshman swimmer for Notre Dame when the bus carrying the team skidded on an Indiana highway, slid down an embankment and flipped on Jan. 24, 1992. The crash killed two of her teammates, and doctors initially told Scott DeMaria that she would never walk again.
Not only did she walk, but Scott DeMaria swam competitively for Notre Dame once again, winning her first race back in the water in October 1993.
She won several national and regional awards for her recovery and return to swimming, including the Spirit of Notre Dame Award, the Executive Journal Comeback of the Year Award, the Honda Award for Inspiration, and the Gene Autry Courage in Sport Award. She was also named Woman of the Year at the National Women’s Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. in 1994 and a fellow at the Institute for International Sport in Rhode Island in 1995.