Nicole Collins

Graduate School Commencement Celebrated Virtually and In Person

May 18, 2021
By: Guest Contributor

Graduate degree recipients were honored with a virtual Commencement ceremony, released online on Saturday, May 15. [View the ceremony here.] The 227 graduates were also given the opportunity to celebrate in person by crossing a stage set up on campus during the Campus Commencement Experience on Friday, May 14.

Of note were the first graduates from new 100 percent online education graduate programs: Brianna Deacon and Natalie Mae Howe, who received master’s degrees in early childhood education; and Shealagh Doherty, Danielle Marie Favata, Brandon Meece, and Amber Serrenho, who received master’s degrees in elementary education. In addition, Xheni Arapi is the first graduate from the Master of Public Management program.

Graduate School Commencement Student Speaker Nicole Collins, M.S.N. ’21, an emergency room nurse at St. Vincent’s Hospital, reminded her fellow graduates that—especially during a difficult pandemic—being human can mean having to suffer, worry, compromise, and feel helpless to make a change. But it also means “collaborating and connecting and communicating with each other. It means finding a common goal, passion, or frustration in life and working toward a solution together. It means falling short sometimes and feeling defeated but then seeing a friendly face or hearing a familiar voice telling us ‘Hey, it’s ok. We’re in this together.’ It means in times of disagreement and dissent, that we recognize each other’s humanity and set that in front of deciding right versus wrong.”

In offering congratulations, she urged her fellow graduates to take their new-found knowledge and make a difference in their community.

“Whether we choose to believe it or not, each one of us has something special to share with our community and the world and this, to me, is ultimately what it means to be human. Finding where your skills and passions meet the world’s needs, and allowing yourself to grow in realizing these things, even in sometimes haphazard ways,” said Collins.

“No one is ever too young to lead, and no one is ever too old to learn. Instead of aiming to just solve problems, let us endeavor to devote ourselves to these problems, employing the wisdom and expertise of those who came before us and the zeal, open-mindedness and ingenuity of those who come after,” she said.

In his remarks, President Barry M. Maloney also encouraged graduates to use their education for good.

“I urge you to reflect upon how the degree, as well as the experience of the past 14 months, may re-direct your own life. With the hope of a largely vaccinated society on the horizon, we are just now beginning to put the ‘pandemic time’ into perspective,” he said. “We’ve seen many lows, but also some highs that give us hope for the future—such as the development of not one, but three effective vaccines in the space of months, rather than years. That effort demonstrates that when people—as well as governmental agencies and corporations—come together, there is little we cannot accomplish.”


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