Dream big, focus small: Stonehill College graduates 66th class

May 22, 2017

EASTON – For award-winning NBC News correspondent Anne Thompson, it’s the small thing that matter most.

That’s because she knows small, focused acts add up over time to help solve seemingly insurmountable problems, and that’s the approach she recommended Stonehill College’s newest class of graduates take during the school’s 66th commencement ceremony Sunday morning, where she delivered the keynote address.

The college graduated 546 students with bachelor’s degrees during the 10 a.m. ceremony.

Thompson suggested three guideposts that the graduates should look for throughout their lives: the truth, their dreams and faith.

She noted that society is both more informed and has more information available to it then ever before, but it can sometimes be tough to parse out the truth from what one would like to believe.

“We can rarely agree these days on what the facts are,” she said, pointing to the debate over global climate change.

She urged the graduates to follow the truth, no matter where it takes them, with a guarantee that though it may be uncomfortable, life will never be boring on that path.

As they discover each of those truths, she said, they’ll take another step closer to realizing their dreams.

“I know many of you are sitting out there with big dreams – you want to change the world, you want to create works of significance,” she said. “I’d urge you to dream big, and focus small.”

Accomplishing those lofty goals, she said, is rarely done all in one go, but instead represents the culmination of many small victories, reflecting on her own career that took her from a local broadcast news station in South Bend, Ind. to the national stage with NBC News.

“I was a long way away from my dreams covering city hall in South Bend, but I was still taking those small steps necessary to ultimately cover that distance,” she said.

She pointed to the example of Pope Francis, who she has covered for NBC and whose small gestures of kindness she said illustrate the big ideas of his papacy.

“Francis has a bold dream for what the Catholic Church can be,” Thompson said. “The execution of that dream is conveyed by small steps in the face of big problems.”

Thompson told the graduates to remain open to life’s serendipitous moments, and keep faith that wherever they guided them would be worth it.

“These are the moments that answer the big questions in life: who am I? What values will I pass on to my children? How will I improve my community?” she said.

Faith also helped her through two battles with cancer, she said.

“Learn from them, let them lead you to where you’re going to go,” she said. “The truth, dreams and faith are never bad places to turn. They inform us, they give strength to the pursuit of big questions, and they add to our arsenal for dealing with the ups and downs of life.”

Student speaker Edward Carbone spoke of how his time at the school had drawn him closer to God and helped him learn to roll with the punches and curveballs life has thrown at him.

The Phillip L. Hemingway, Sr. Award:

The award is granted annually at Stonehill College in recognition of exceptional academic achievement.

Recipients, as the highest ranking graduates in their respective disciplines:

Liberal Arts: Kathryn Judith Joy, double major, B.A. in English and B.A. in Economics. Summa Cum Laude and Lambda Espilon Sigma.

Sciences: Rachel Victoria Ricciuti, double major, B.S. Mathematics and B.A. in English. Summa Cum Laude, Lambda Espilon Sigma, and Moreau Honors Scholar.

Business: Alexandra Clivia Esposito, B.S. in Accounting. Summa Cum Laude, Lambda Espilon Sigma, and Moreau Honors Scholar.

This piece was originally published in The Enterprise, here.