Celebrating Our Seniors at Stonehill’s 71st Commencement
Community members and honored guests gathered in support and recognition of the Class of 2022 as they received their diplomas on Sunday, May 22.
Five hundred sixty-one students, including 532 undergraduate and 29 graduate degree recipients, processed at Stonehill College’s 71st Commencement. DeBrenna Agbényiga, provost and vice president for academic affairs, presided over the ceremony, which marked a return to Stonehill’s Quad after a few years away due to pandemic protocols.
Make Us Ever Mindful
Emma Bernier ’22 opened this year’s celebration with the Invocation. She prayed that God may bestow upon this year’s graduates the mindfulness to acknowledge all they have accomplished at Stonehill. She also asked our Heavenly Father to bless the faculty, family and friends who have supported the Class of 2022 over the past four years. She concluded with the following:
As we move forward, celebrating accomplishment and transition, may we continue to make You known, loved, and served.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Preserving the Majesty of God’s Creation
Read by Professor of Biology Susan Mooney, the citation bestowing an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters on John Judge ’89 highlighted his dedication to environmental stewardship and conservation. A lifelong steward of sacred lands, he has helped build hundreds of miles of trails throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He has also revitalized urban areas through the establishment of innovative outdoor centers and accessible programs. Amid these efforts, Judge has lived Stonehill College’s mission statement by prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion.
The Spirit to Lead with Courage
During his address, Judge called upon the Class of 2022 to protect our treasured outdoor spaces amid the ongoing climate crisis. The president and CEO of The Trustees of Reservations offered three simple ideas to help inspire graduates to become the next champions of our natural world. Judge encouraged them to find everyday ways to unplug from technology, integrate ecological values into their careers, and use nature to nurture their mental health.
"Stonehill has given you the space to lead with love and compassion," he said. "And you have the goods to lead. It fills me with hope that you are the generation to move us forward, enact meaningful change and lead with courage."
No Bridge is Uncrossable
Student speaker Shannon Bursey ’22 recited a poem that she wrote in lieu of a traditional speech. The work detailed the challenges of attending college amid a global pandemic.
Took care of our family
Amidst global uncertainty
Stay six feet apart
Play your part
Despite the struggles they faced because of COVID-19, the Class of 2022 persevered, as noted by Bursey.
Overcome any obstacle
Make the impossible possible
No bridge is uncrossable
A More Inclusive Place for All
Senior Class President Kemuel Navarrete ’22 and Vice President Giana Gualda ’22 presented this year’s class gift, which will benefit the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Social Justice. This program sponsors lectures, events, and academic research examining how race, ethnicity, and other categories of difference are infused in power structures.
“By donating to this Center, we hope to help Stonehill achieve its mission of creating a more just and compassionate world,” Navarrete said.
The class gift will also fund a Skyhawk statue, which is to be erected in front of the Sally Blair Ames Sports Complex as part of a joint initiative between the Classes of 2017 and 2022.
“This statue will symbolize our strong community and always welcome us home,” Navarrete remarked.
Alumni Council Vice President Zachary Ennis ’08 welcomed the Class of 2022 into the College’s Alumni Association, made up of 29,000 Stonehill graduates.
“Many of these alumni will tell you that their life’s journey differed from what they expected when they received their degrees,” he said. “I encourage you to embrace the change that will come your way because it will open the doors of possibility.”
Rev. John Denning, C.S.C., president of Stonehill College, acknowledged our graduates’ perseverance over the last four years. He lauded them for finding moments of levity, light and hope in the face of unimaginable circumstances. He also referenced a recent homily given by Pope Francis, during which the pontiff expressed his hope that young people can discover in Jesus the courage to keep fighting, hoping and dreaming. Echoing these sentiments, Fr. Denning encouraged students to dream large, no matter the vocation they pursue.
“I am filled with optimism—now more than ever—that our future is made brighter by each of you,” he said.
Instruments of Peace and Justice
In giving the Benediction, Br. James Walters, C.S.C., campus minister for retreats and faith formation, offered a prayer traditionally attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and ecology. The Italian Catholic friar was known for expressing his devotion to the Lord through his love of all creation.
Praying for God to bestow his blessings upon the Class of 2022, Br. Walters asked that they may be “instruments of peace and justice” wherever they may find themselves in the future.
“Above all, may these graduates depart from Stonehill as global citizens with the competence to see and the courage to act, so that together we may all work toward the creation of a more just and compassionate world,” he said.