Honorary degree recipient Ed Cooley ’94 is not the only campus community member who will address the Class of 2024 at Stonehill College’s 73rd Commencement, taking place Sunday, May 19. Crystal Chojnowski ’24 and Agustin “Gus” Morales III, M.Ed. ’24 will also offer remarks at this year’s ceremony. The pair were selected after auditioning before a committee comprised of faculty, staff and students. 

Amid their preparations for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, we recently sat down with the student speakers to chat about their Stonehill experiences, post-graduate plans and more. 

Undergraduate Speaker Crystal Chojnowski ’24

Crystal Chojnowski

Crystal Chojnowski ’24 of Plymouth, Massachusetts is graduating with a major in communication and a minor in business administration. During her time at Stonehill, she served as a facilitator for the College’s First-Year Experience program, through which she offered guidance to incoming students as they adjusted to life on campus.

Why did you choose Stonehill?

I’m such a people person. The second that my first tour of campus finished, I turned to my parents and noted how personable and friendly everyone was. I felt like I made five new friends by the time I left. In that sense, Stonehill was exactly what I wanted in a school. While the people were a big factor, I also fell in love with the campus. It’s so beautiful.

What inspired you to audition for the role of student speaker for Commencement?

I auditioned to be my high school’s Commencement speaker when I was a senior. As I was going through the process, COVID hit, and I never ended up getting to do it. When the opportunity to speak at Stonehill’s Commencement came about, I thought it would be nice to finally get to speak at graduation. I’m glad I have this opportunity to step outside my comfort zone. I think giving this speech is a great way to ensure my college experience goes out with a bang.

Can you give us a preview of your speech?

I don’t want to give too much away, but I talk a bit about how my class first started college at the height of the pandemic in 2020. With that in mind, I try to explore how important it is to cherish the small memories. 

What are your plans after graduation?

My family and I are moving to Middletown, Rhode Island, this summer. I’m also exploring the possibility of working for the Communications and Media team at Mirbeau Inn & Spa, located in Plymouth.

What will you miss most about Stonehill after you graduate? 

I love running into people here. It’s such a tight-knit community. I’ll miss being able to stop and have a friendly conversation with people unexpectedly on campus.

Graduate Speaker Agustin “Gus” Morales III, M.Ed. ’24 

Agustin “Gus” Morales

Agustin “Gus” Morales III, M.Ed. ’24 of Holyoke, Massachusetts, is graduating from Stonehill College with a Master of Education in Inclusive Education degree. As an undergraduate, he attended Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. While there, he studied English and communication. He currently works for the public school system in Randolph, Massachusetts, where he teaches English and Advanced Placement African American Studies. 

Why did you choose Stonehill?

Randolph Public Schools has a relationship with Stonehill College through the Equity, Diversity and Justice in Education (EDJE) Scholars Teacher Residency and Mentoring Initiative, which is designed to help diversify the teacher workforce. I was a recipient of the EDJE grant, which led me to come to Stonehill. I am so happy I ended up here.

What inspired you to audition for the role of student speaker for Commencement?

I see it as a profound opportunity. I wanted the chance to reflect on the collective journey that my classmates and I have been on. It’s a privilege to articulate the challenges that my peers and I have overcome, as well as celebrate our triumphs. This occasion will also allow me to express gratitude to my professors and classmates for their engagement and for everything I’ve learned at Stonehill. 

Can you give us a preview of your speech?

I believe we must do things for their intrinsic value rather than extrinsic value. We must be motivated by trying to make the world a better place. That idea will come up quite a bit in my speech. 

How will your Stonehill degree help advance you career in education?

Everything I do in my job is centered on social justice. I truly believe in diversity, equity and inclusion. They aren’t just boxes I feel I need to check off. I’m part of my district’s DEI Committee. I’m going to continue working to enhance DEI initiatives in my school district and across the state. Hopefully in the future, I can also have an impact across the country. 

What is your favorite thing about your Stonehill experience?

I have enjoyed working with my graduate cohort. Learning from each other academically and spiritually has been an absolute blessing. The professors, in particular Elizabeth Stringer Keefe and Rebekah Louis, have also been great. They were instrumental in my success here. Between the students and the faculty, we all pushed each other to be better. I really appreciated that about my time here.