Stonehill College’s 2023 Unity Graduation Celebration was held on Thursday, May 4. The event, held annually, honors seniors’ achievements by gifting stoles and pins to students of color, as well as first-generation and LGBTQ+ students.  

“You have overcome challenges and broken through barriers that others cannot even imagine having to face,” said Director of Intercultural Affairs Kristine Din at the beginning of the program. “So, always remember to keep shining.” 

Following her remarks, Din invited President John Denning, C.S.C., to share a message of encouragement with students. 

“As I’ve witnessed how you’ve helped to build a just and compassionate community here at Stonehill, I really hope that you go forward and seek to do that in our world,” he said. 

Alumni speaker Shavel Aldophe ’03 with Director of Intercultural Affairs Kristine Din.

Before students received their adornments, Dr. Shavel Aldophe ’03, senior director of ambulatory operations at UMass Memorial Medical Center, offered some words of wisdom.  

The alumna began by recognizing that the world that seniors will step into after graduation can be scary because of its unpredictability. Despite this, she believes students should always try to face their fears head-on. As they do so, they should remember that the choices they make have the potential to impact others. 

“Know that your actions will always matter to the person who is on the other side,” she said. “When you embrace this concept, it helps you on your path of choosing kindness and care for your fellow human being, no matter the situation, even when it’s tough to do so.” 

Aldophe also encouraged students to be their own cheerleader, not to compromise who they truly are and to be intentional in all that they do. 

“One day, sooner than you may now think, you will look back and reflect on the journey and be wowed by how much not only you have gotten out of life but how much life has put in you,” she said. 

Left to right: Anh “Alice” Hoang ’23, Desiree Ruiz Ramoz ’23, Melanie Barbosa ’23 and Lianza Stephen ’23.

After Aldophe’s speech, Melanie Barbosa ’23, Anh “Alice” Hoang ’23, Desiree Ruiz Ramoz ’23 and Lianza Stephen ’23, all student employees for the Office of Intercultural Affairs (OIA), offered reflections about life at Stonehill and beyond. 

Barbosa, a psychology major active in student organizations like RISE and Advocates for a Brighter Stonehill, talked about OIA’s impact on our community. 

“The Office of Intercultural Affairs will always go above and beyond to reach students they know and even those they don’t know when they hear there is a need,” she said. 

Stephen, a psychology major who serves as Student Government Association’s Executive Diversity Chair, noted that Stonehill is where she created a community of people who encourage her to acquire knowledge and uplift others. 

“I’m proud of the four years, not only for the trials but also for the tribulations that I was able to accomplish with the many amazing people that I call my friends,” she said. 

Ramoz, a psychology major known across campus for her work with SORAI, MATU, BACES and RISE, discussed what unity means to her.  

“When I first hear the word unity, I think of community success, where everyone is helping one another out so that we all can grow individually and collectively,” she said. “Therefore, remember that when an opportunity presents itself, connect your friends, peers, or colleagues because unity is all about collaboration, support, and encouragement.” 

Hoang, a biochemistry major who is a proud member of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Clubs, concluded the student speaker portion of the ceremony. 

“We have all pushed boundaries in our own way to make this world and campus a better place, even in small ways,” she said. “To the underclassmen, be in the moment, enjoy your college years, and build your own story. Graduates, you do you, just be smart about it! Congratulations!” 

Stonehill College's 2023 Unity Graduates take a group photo.

A student receives their stole at the 2023 Unity Graduation.

Students watch on proudly as their peers take the stage.

Din addresses the audience.

Stonehill students are all smiles after receiving their adornments.