Stonehill College faculty, staff, friends and family who are here and those who are watching online and class of 2021—welcome!! I want to start by thanking God and my parents who have supported me endlessly. It would be careless for me to not recognize the sacrifices they have made for me to attend such a wonderful college like Stonehill. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for their unwavering love and support.

I stand here today incredibly grateful to be graduating in person, to have two guests on our behalf, but most importantly to be here together. But I understand that this year is also not what we pictured.

For starters, I pictured my first semester of senior year—in person. I know some of us were on campus, but others of us chose to join Zoom University or commute to and from—So, now in my case a lot more people have seen the inside of my childhood bedroom than I’d like! Thank you Zoom! But nonetheless, here we are.

Being home for the fall semester allowed me to reflect and appreciate my 4 years at Stonehill. It also allowed me to clean out my closet one too many times. While cleaning out, I found this Stonehill shirt with the words “Think Act Lead” in purple on the front.

The story behind this shirt is that freshman year, my mom called me and told me I HAD to sign up for the Think, Act, Lead conference. She said it would “set me up for my career”. Honestly, I only told her yes because I knew I would get free “Stonehill swag”, which included that t-shirt and when you’re a broke college student anything that has “free” in front of it—you’ll take. Now, I stand here 4 years later, finally realizing that what Stonehill has done is molded us into people who can Think, Act, and Lead.

The first: Think.

One of my favorite quotes reads, “If you don’t like something change it; If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it”

Throughout my 4 years I have taken classes that have challenged me academically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. I’ll be honest, I’ve sat in some classes where I didn’t agree with the professor at all! But it was in those classes that I learned something more. I would go to office hours, have those tough conversations and create relationships with my professors. And even though in many instances they didn’t ~ or couldn’t ~ change my opinion on a topic, they did change my perspective. And that’s what life is about – learning to look at the things we can’t change differently.

And I know this year is not what any of us would have hoped it to be, but when we shift our perspective, we can realize it has actually been so much more.

Senior year is typically the year of “lasts”, but for me it has been more of a year of “firsts”. The first time I lived off-campus, the first time I went to Barrett’s ... and I’m embarrassed to say Brack’s (okay that may be lame to some of you I realize), but listen it was also the first time I didn’t have a volleyball season. The first time I walked around the town of Easton and realized there is more than just Farmer’s Daughter on main street! And I know maybe some of the things I’m mentioning are not “firsts” for all of you, but a little shift in perspective can change a lot.

And from our thoughts, come our actions, so let’s take a minute to talk about the second word: ACT.

During our time at Stonehill, we have lived through two presidencies - even an impeachment, or two, movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter. We have witnessed the hatred spewed, and lives taken, against our brothers and sisters of color. We are living through a pandemic and by the Grace of God we sit here today. But we have been more than just witnesses to these events. We have been encouraged to act in what we believe in ... and to bring justice to those who have been marginalized. I am honored to be a part of the class 2021, filled with graduates who I have seen take a stand for what they believe in. Graduates who I believe will act, who will not be silenced, and will make their voices heard in their communities.

And in Conclusion, this brings us to our last word: LEAD.

LEAD is what we have been prepared to do over these last 4 years.

Some of us are going to become teachers, some of us are going to join corporate America, other of us will be doctors, lawyers, scientists, and some of us will become students again. Regardless, all of us are going to become leaders. As leaders we are role models for those who come after us, and we have a responsibility to them.

So - the question I want to leave with you all, class of 2021, “How will you lead?”

And that’s a question we will each have to answer for ourselves.

However, as Stonehill graduates I know we will all lead with light and hope, a little Lux et Spes, and leave this campus, a little brighter than when we first found it.

Thank you and Congratulations Class of 2021! We did it