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Governor Charlie Baker Among Those Speaking at May 19th Commencement

April 9, 2018
By: Nancy Sheehan

Worcester State University will hold its undergraduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 19, 2018, at 10 a.m. at the DCU Center in Worcester. More than 1100 students will be eligible to graduate. They and their family members will hear from Massachusetts Governor Charles D. Baker Jr., who will deliver a commencement address and receive an honorary degree, and from a recent alumnus, Eugene Bah, class of 2012, whose inspirational story has led him from a village in rural Africa to enrollment in one of the premier M.D./Ph.D. programs in the United States, via Worcester State University.

University officials will also confer degrees upon graduating seniors, present teaching awards, and confer honorary doctorates.

Governor Baker was inaugurated January 8, 2015, as the 72nd Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Over the course of his career, Baker has been a highly successful leader of complex business and government organizations. During his time as Chief Executive Officer of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Baker turned a company on the brink of bankruptcy into the nation’s highest ranked health care provider for member satisfaction and clinical effectiveness for six straight years.

Governor Baker is considered by many to have a bipartisan approach. His achievements as governor include working with the Legislature to address budget gaps while balancing the state’s books without raising taxes, bolstering local aid for schools and communities, investing in a more reliable public transportation system, and prioritizing funds to fight the opioid and heroin epidemic.

He earned a B.A. in English from Harvard College in 1979 and went on to earn an M.B.A. from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. In a variety of polls, he consistently ranks as the most popular governor in the country. In addition to speaking, Baker will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Administration, honoris causa.

Eugene Bah will address the graduates and receive recognition for Inspirational Alumni Achievement at the ceremony. Bah grew up in a remote village in Cameroon, and when members of his family needed medical treatment, they would have to travel 30 miles to the nearest clinic, which was staffed only by a visiting nurse. This experience led him to pursue a medical career. Bah graduated from Worcester State with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and is now in the Mayo Clinic Medical Scientist Training Program, planning eventually to go into neurosurgery and to perform in-depth research, as well.

University officials also will confer honorary degrees upon the following individuals:

  • Robert K. O’Brien, Class of 1958, an accomplished professional who, following his retirement, became an extremely successful entrepreneur, as well as a generous Worcester State University benefactor, will receive Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. Upon graduation from Worcester State with a degree in education, O’Brien pursued a career at State Mutual Life Assurance Corp. (now Hanover Insurance), where he worked for many years. After retiring as a vice president at State Mutual, Bob founded Health Reinsurance Management Inc. as well as some 10 spinoffs, which came to employ more than 300 people—and it all started at Worcester State. O’Brien also developed the concept and provides monetary support for the annual Robert K. O’Brien ’58 Next Big Idea Contest, which celebrates entrepreneurship and creative thinking at WSU. After years of dedicated service and through hard work, kindness, and commitment to education, Bob and his late wife, Barbara, also an alumnus, chose to help young people achieve their dreams. To honor their parents and invest in the future of Worcester State University, they established seven scholarships that have provided critical assistance to more than 100 Worcester State students. O’Brien currently lives in Jupiter, Fla.
  • Darnell L. Williams, President and CEO of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, a well-respected community leader in Boston, who also has served president of the Springfield Branch of the NAACP and president of the organization’s New England Area Conference, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. Williams is the former director for the United Way of Pioneer Valley, and has undertaken many other civic, educational and charitable endeavors. He is known as an advocate and speaker on issues of importance pertaining to the challenges faced by communities of color and low-income families. Williams was a contributing member to Boston’s successful effort to win the 2004 Democratic National Convention. In 2007, Williams was inducted into the Human Resources Alliance for African Americans (HRAAA) Hall of Fame. Founded in 1917, the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts is one of the oldest affiliates within the National Urban League movement, whose mission is to advocate on behalf of African Americans and against racial discrimination. Williams also is frequently consulted on diversity matters by political leaders at the national, state and local levels.
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