Stonehill celebrated its 63rd Commencement on Sunday, May 18, graduating 613 students from the Class of 2014. Boston Globe CEO and driving force behind The One Fund Michael Sheehan gave the keynote address, urging the graduates to follow their dreams even if it means moving in a new direction.
“Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is quit what you’re doing and free yourself up to opportunities you never imagined would come your way,” said Sheehan, who received an honorary degree along with Dr. Irving Fradkin, Sr. Bridget Haase, O.S.U. and Dr. Marsha Moses ’75.
Sheehan was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree for his work in helping establish the One Fund in support of the Boston Marathon bombing victims. “When disaster struck Boston, you lent creative expertise in developing The One Fund Boston … you came up with the now ubiquitous name, enlisted Hill Holiday to design a website and logo and developed the early messaging that didn’t just raise millions, but also created a spirit of community and healing,” said Communication Professor Maureen Boyle in reading the award citation.
Dr. Fradkin founded Dollars for Scholars, now Scholarship America, in 1958. His vision has helped send more than two million students to college natonwide. “For your optimism and vision, your passion for education and for bringing Light and Hope to generation of young Americans, Stonehill is proud to bestow upon you … the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters,” said Education Professor Stephen Pinzari in reading the award citation.
A member of the Ursulines of the Roman Union order since age 17, Sr. Haase has traveled the world ministering to those in need, especially children, the poor and the sick. “For the joy you bring to the corporal works of mercy, your 50-plus year devotion to Ursuline life, and by ceaselessly sharing the Gospel message in word and deed, we are proud to bestow upon you … the degree of Doctor of Theology,” said Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Stephen Wilbricht, C.S.C. in reading the award citation.
A nationally recognized biochemist, teacher and researcher, Dr. Moses was awarded a Doctor of Science degree. “In addition to your vitally important scientific work, you have made time to volunteer on career panels, mentor Biology majors, and, since 1999, serve on the College’s Board of Trustees,” noted Biology Professor Maura Tyrrell in reading the award citation.
Know When to Fold ’Em
Sheehan recalled listening to Commencement speakers such as corporate executive Dennis Kozlowski and Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci, both of whom gave uplifting addresses but ended up in prison. As a result, he made sure not to take himself too seriously when addressing the Stonehill Class of 2014. “Commencement speakers are, by and large, full of crap,” Sheehan joked. “I will try and be the exception to that rule … but don’t count on it. With all due respect to commencement speakers across America who implore you to ‘follow your dreams,’ I offer a few bits of perhaps counter-intuitive advice,” Sheehan said.
His words were simple yet poignant. First: “Don’t always listen to so-called experts like me.”
Second: “Just work hard and produce something of value every single day.”
Third: “Do what you enjoy doing, not what others, including your parents, expect you to do. Then, you’ll never work a day in your life because it’ll be fun.
Fourth: “Surround yourself with nice, smart people.”
Fifth: You only get one name and one reputation in life. Be vigilant in how you protect them.”
Sixth: “Always, always treat others with respect and with dignity, as you would want to be treated.
And lastly: “If you have children someday, love them the way your parent have loved you.”
Getting in one last chuckle from the audience, Sheehan ended with a quote from “a famous 20th century philosopher.”
“You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run. And with that, I run. God bless the Stonehill College Class of 2014.”
The Story is Far From Over
In addressing his classmates, Antonino “Nino” Gentile urged them to reflect on their Stonehill experience and give gratitude to those who helped get them to this special day in their lives. “We must take a step back and remember that we couldn’t have done it alone,” he said.
“As this incredible chapter that has kept us at the edge of our seats for four years ends, the story is far from over. In fact, it is just beginning. We have ventured to the far corners of this planet, assisted in groundbreaking scientific research, won national awards, just to name a few. With these accomplishments behind us, anything is possible,” Gentile proclaimed.
Honoring a Fallen Classmate
This year’s senior class gift in the amount of over $15,000 honors the late Henry Thevenin ’14 who passed away at the end of his first year at Stonehill, just two months after being diagnosed with leukemia. The Class of 2014 has established the Henry Thevenin Memorial Scholarship, which will be awarded to academically qualified, financially needy students from Brockton, Thevenin’s hometown. It is the largest class gift in Stonehill’s history.
Alumni Council President Christine Ferretti ’92 was the first to greet the 613 students from Class of 2014 as the College’s newest alumni. “You have been a part of Stonehill’s family as students for the past four years – we now welcome you into the Stonehill Family as alumni forever,” said Ferretti. Stonehill now has over 24,000 alumni throughout the world.
Not All Those Who Wander are Lost
In his very first Commencement address as President of the College, Fr. John Denning, C.S.C. spoke of the many places the Class of 2014 may have wandered throughout their Stonehill journeys –citing the famous line from “The Fellowship of the Rings,” which can often be seen on bumper stickers: “Not all those who wander are lost.”
“You may have found yourself wandering in a village in Nicaragua, the plains of Africa, the coast of Ireland, the rain forest of Costa Rica or the streets of Rome … you may have wandered over to the Y and became a big brother or sister or to My Brother’s Keeper and found yourself carrying a mattress up three flights of stairs to a family in need … Our wanderings provide us rich opportunities to learn, to grow, and to become more keenly aware of our values and hopes.”
Fr. Denning went on to say, “My hope and prayer for you as you go forth this day to wander to places near and far is taken from the words of the Micah prophet: May you act with justice, may you love tenderly and may you walk humbly with your God.”