Mantilla, Nettles to receive honorary degrees

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 5:40:00 PM

The 2017 Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement Ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively, on Sunday, May 21, at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee.

President James P. Loftus is pleased to announce the 2017 honorary degree recipients and commencement speakers.

Félix Mantilla
Honorary degree recipient
Presented at the undergraduate ceremony

Felix MantillaBorn in Isabela, Puerto Rico on July 29, 1934, Félix “The Cat” Mantilla enjoyed a 24-year professional baseball career that started at the age of 12 in his home country.

He spent his first six seasons in Milwaukee as a versatile utility player for the contending Milwaukee Braves. In 1957 Mantilla reached the pinnacle of the baseball world when he helped the Braves beat the New York Yankees to win the World Series. Winning that championship placed Mantilla in a unique position in the annals of Puerto Rican sport. He carries the distinction of being the sole native son to have won an Amateur World Championship, a Caribbean League World Championship and a Major League World Championship.

After retiring from baseball, he and a group of his friends blazed another trail when they founded the Félix Mantilla Little League in 1972 for kids on Milwaukee’s near southside, a community that faces economic challenges. Today, 45 years later, the little league continues to thrive.

Read more about Mantilla.

Cory L. Nettles
Honorary degree recipient
Presented at the graduate ceremony

Cory NettlesCory L. Nettles is the founder and managing director of Generation Growth Capital, Inc., a private equity fund focused on buyouts and providing growth capital to small businesses and lower-middle market companies in the upper Midwest. Nettles was formerly Of Counsel at Quarles & Brady LLP in the Corporate Services and Government Relations groups. He also served as secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Commerce and was "point man" on business and economic development for the state.

In 2014, Nettles and four other prominent Milwaukee-area business leaders founded Partners for Community Impact LLC, an organization dedicated to urban economic development. One of the organization’s most public initiatives was its successful bid to join the ownership team for the Milwaukee Bucks.

The African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin honored Nettles in 2016 for his leadership in the African American business community. In a Milwaukee Business Journal article, Dr. Eve Hall, ’09, lauded Nettles for his economic development efforts in the community.

Read more about Nettles.

Brittany Hawley
B.A. degree candidate
Student speaker, undergraduate ceremony


In Brittany Hawley’s four years at Cardinal Stritch University, she has completed eight internships, attended six conferences, developed three social justice campaigns, conducted research with two prominent psychologists and provided counseling services to countless individuals in crisis situations.

And yet, she can sum up her undergraduate experience in two words: Opportunity. Support.

At Stritch, Hawley has been a Franciscan Servant Scholar, two-time recipient of the Multicultural Image Award and founder of Stritch Against Human Trafficking. She raised awareness about mental health at Stritch and in the greater community through her social media campaigns, “It’s Time to Talk about Mental Illness Because” and “I Hear You: A Message to the Ones Who Struggle with Suicide.” Her most recent campaign encouraged people to recognize how they empower themselves and others.

Read more about Hawley.

Austin Jensen
M.B.A. degree candidate
Student speaker, graduate ceremony

Austin JensenAustin Jensen grew up in a small rural town in central Illinois. Since graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Western Illinois University in 2008, he has held positions in both sales and management for national corporations, including American Greetings and Abercrombie and Fitch.

Jensen, currently an account manager for Great Lakes Coca-Cola, is responsible for assessing customers’ needs and driving profitability for retail locations. He credits his Stritch education with providing more than an understanding of accounting and finance concepts; it challenged him.

Read more about Jensen.  

View a comprehensive listing of Commencement Weekend events. Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of our graduating students!