Stonehill Celebrates 66th Commencement

May 23, 2017


On Sunday, May 21, hundreds of students and their families, faculty, and alumni gathered for Stonehill's 66th Commencement ceremony!

The ceremony was led by Anne Thompson, Chief Environmental Affairs correspondent for NBC News. Over the course of her career, Thompson has led national coverage on Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, the Catholic Church, and the Martha Stewart trial. She has also served as NBC’s Chief Financial correspondent and has won numerous awards including the Gerald Loeb Award and an Emmy.

Follow Your Heart and Conviction

In her Commencement address, NBC correspondent Anne Thompson gave the graduates three guideposts for life—truth, dreams, and faith—and advised them to unplug and find time to be still: “It is hard to hear your own voice if you are always listening to someone else’s. It is hard to know the truth, it’s hard to dream and it’s hard to have faith if you are being constantly bombarded by incoming information.” Only when we are quiet and still, she added, “can you hear the unmistakable authority of your heart’s own conviction.”

To read Thompson’s citation, visit here. And to read Thompson’s speech, visit here.

Honorary Skyhawks

Along with Thompson, the College honored JoAnn Burton, Bishop Arthur Colgin, C.S.C., ’68 and Robert Simpson ’93 with honorary degrees.

JoAnn Burton

A humanitarian, Burton was born into a family active in the civil rights movement and, building on that legacy, her life has been devoted to helping at risk youth through the Ron Burton Training Village (RBTV), which she and her late husband (Ron) started in 1985.

RBTV has served thousands of young people, helping them with their spiritual, physical and educational growth. It holds free summer camps for disadvantaged inner-city youths and a 5-week sports camp program for young men aged 11 to 18 every summer in Hubbardston, Massachusetts. Stonehill is one of three colleges which offer two full scholarships to RBTV campers who have completed six years of growth and commitment through the program. So far, 20 RBTV gradautes have received Stonehill scholarships. Read Burton’s citation here.

Bishop Arthur Colgan, C.S.C. ’68

Bishop Colgan is the first Stonehill alumnus to become a bishop in the Catholic Church. Appointed by Pope Francis in 2015, he serves as the auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Chosica in the ecclesiastical province of Lima, Peru. Bishop Colgan has spent much of his religious life serving the Church in its outreach to the underserved and displaced in Peru.

In 1993, Bishop Colgan received the College’s Outstanding Alumnus Award in recognition of his dedication to building a church that ministers to the poor. The citation in his honor hailed him as “a man of hope in a time of tribulation.” In addition to his degree from Stonehill, he holds a licentiate in sacred theology from the Pontifical Catholic University in Chile, which he received in 1973. You can learn more about Bishop Colgan here.

Robert Simpson ’93

Simpson, an executive and philanthropist, is a pioneer in medical supply distribution, serving as the President and Chief Executive Officer of LeeSar and Cooperative Services of Florida. Thanks to the efforts of Simpson, the Healthcare Supply Chain Management Initiative at Stonehill was made possible by an initial grant from the Kimberly-Clark Corp. Since 2008, the initiative has given Stonehill students hands on experience through full-time summer internships in supply chain management at LeeSar in Fort Meyers, Florida.

In 1995, in memory of their son, who was killed by a drunk driver, Simpson and his wife Linda created Project Perfect World, which takes medical teams around the world to provide free surgery for children in need. In 2015, he and Linda received the Servitor Pacis Award, which is awarded each year by the Path to Peace Foundation, an organization affiliated with the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations. Past recipients of this award include world leaders such as Lech Walesa, Corazon Aquino and Kofi Annan.

To learn more about Simpson through his citation, click here.

Stonehill Mindset

Student speaker Edward Carbone ’17 congratulated his classmates on the milestone of graduating college, reflecting on the reality that many others their own age do not get the same privilege.

Carbone reflected on his time at Stonehill, sharing with those present stories of the adversity he faced over his four years on campus, and crediting his peers and Stonehill’s culture for helping him succeed.


“In life we’re going to face difficulties. In a sense, it’s like a baseball pitcher throwing us curve balls whenever he feels like it. It’s all in your approach that will determine if you succeed or fail.” – Edward Carbone

Praising the “Stonehill mindset,” Carbone urged his fellow classmates to carry the caring, compassionate, accepting nature of the College’s campus with them into the real world. “Stonehill graduates are always told by the faculty that we’re too nice, but I think that’s what makes us so unique,” said Carbone. “We have the ability to change the world.”

Ace Immemorial

Senior class president Sarah Gaffney ’17 and vice president Ahmed Hassan ’17 rallied their fellow graduates by presenting their class gift to the College, a bronze statue of Ace the Skyhawk. The statue is mean to serve as a reminder of the sense of community so strongly held on campus.


“ In my time at Stonehill, I have valued the strength of our community and have witnessed its power.” – Sarah Gaffney.

“This statue will be a representation of our community, both past, present, and future,” said Gaffney. “Each and every one of you is responsible for making Stonehill feel like home, and creating our strong-knit community,” she closed, thanking to her classmates.

Alumni Welcome

Steven Viveiros ’98, president of the College’s Alumni Council, welcomed the Class of 2017 to Stonehill’s 25,000 member strong Alumni Association. Viveiros asked students to keep in touch with the College, and remember the impact Stonehill has had on their lives and their future.

“I encourage you to embrace the challenges and change that will come your way because they will open the doors of possibility for you,” said Viveiros. “At the same time, you now have the opportunity to make a positive impact in this world and remember how your Stonehill education supported you on that journey.”

Seeds of Hope

College President Fr. John Denning, C.S.C. highlighted Pope Francis’ recent message about Seeds of Hope, and how people who put themselves in the service of others make our world a better place. Fr. John noted how each of the College’s honorary degree recipients act as a seed of hope in their communities, offering their time, money, and resources to help improve the lives of the people around them.

Fr. John also credited the graduating class as an example of the service to others. “Members of the Class of 2017, in your own distinct ways, you have been seeds of hope here on campus,” said Fr. John. “I am confident you will do the same after graduation in your communities and your professions. As you go forward, I pray that you may know God’s merciful love for you and that you might always have the courage to think of your neighbor and be a seed of hope in our world.”

Watch the Whole Ceremony!

Commencement Facts and Figures

Class of 2017 Latin honors

(includes September 2016, December 2016, and May 2017 graduates)

Summa cum laude (3.90 or above GPA): 14
Magna cum laude (3.70 – 3.89 GPA): 69
Cum laude (3.50 - 3.69 GPA): 103

507 students officially earned their degree on Sunday.

546 students participated in Commencement (includes September 2016, December 2016, students planning to complete their degrees in September 2017, and students completing their first year at the University of Notre Dame through the dual-degree program).