Stonehill College’s 2024 Unity Graduation Celebration, honoring the achievements of students of color, first-generation students, and LGBTQ+ students, was held in the Martin Institute on Thursday, May 2. The event opened with an address by Director of Intercultural Affairs Kristine Din.

“In the spirit of unity, may you remember that we belong to one another," she said. "Celebrate yourselves and each other, today and always. Community is what we have to rely upon in both good times and bad."

President John Denning, C.S.C., then took the opportunity to thank this year’s graduates for all they have done to help make Stonehill a community where diversity is celebrated. 

“I hope during your time here that you found not just an academic home but a home where you felt valued and welcomed,” he said.

Jaelynn Rodney '24 (left) and JJ White '24 (right)

Left to right: Director of Intercultural Affairs Kristine Din, Assistant Director of Intercultural Affairs Teddi Nguyen Lydon and Alumni Speaker Marnie Walsh ’20

Following President Denning’s speech, Jaelyn Rodney ’24 and JJ White ’24 offered reflections on their Stonehill experiences. 

“Our presence is a testament to our resilience and unwavering commitment to authenticity, uniqueness, nerve and talent,” White said. “I have no doubt that we will continue to be agents of positive change in the world.” 

During her address, Rodney said, “[We] have demonstrated time and time again that excellence knows no bounds. Our achievements serve as a beacon of hope and empowerment for future generations, and our voices are instrumental in shaping a more equitable and inclusive society.”

After each graduate received special stoles and pins that they will wear at Stonehill College’s 73rd Commencement on Sunday, May 19, Din introduced speaker Marnie Walsh ’20. 

The alumna currently teaches at Mission Grammar School in Roxbury, Massachusetts, where she also serves as Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Coordinator. During her time at Stonehill, she was actively involved in programs like Advocates for a Brighter Stonehill and RISE, among others. She was named the recipient of the President’s Cup during her senior year. 

Walsh encouraged this year’s graduates to be kind to themselves and to stand firmly in their narrative. 

“Every one of you holds so much knowledge, power, excellence and resilience; never lose sight of that,” she said. “The goals you set are never too big, the dreams you have are never ‘too much.’ Stand up, be bold, be your most authentic self because I promise you, the universe wants to see it, I want to see it, Stonehill College wants to see it.”