Onward and Upward
"I’m glad it’s over,” said graduating senior John DeMille. “It was fun while it lasted.” The Pembroke resident and earth science major was one of nearly 1,200 undergraduate students to cross the stage and receive their bachelor’s degrees during the 172nd spring commencement convocation.
Thousands of family and friends of the graduates attended the ceremony, held on the Boyden Quadrangle under sunny skies.
An emotional President Dana Mohler-Faria delivered his address not only to the graduates, but to his son, Jonathan, who sat among them. He invoked the tragedy of the Boston Marathon bombings, particularly the five athletic training students who were working with Professor Kimberly Wise in the finish line tent and ran to assist victims in the moments after the explosions. He named the students, Jordan DaSilva, Tom Doucette, Joe Sanford, Jordan Leonard, and Bethany Forshaw, praising them for “running toward the blast.”
“For them it was not about their own safety…. It was to be part of the human fabric and to change and save the world,” the president said. “And that’s what they did.
“As you move through your life,” he told the graduates, “as explosions happen all around you, run toward them, and you will change the world.” To his son, he added, “Jonathan and your classmates, as we have taught you as students, as we have taught you as parents, run toward the blast.”
Bridgewater alumnus Louis M. Ricciardi, ’81, owner of the Ricciardi Financial Group of Taunton and a statewide and regional leader, longstanding member of the university’s governing boards and benefactor to Bridgewater, delivered the ceremony’s keynote address.
Mr. Ricciardi recalled a day as a student back in the late 1970s when discussing with then English Professor Tom Curley his plan to “forget college and work more.” The professor set out to convince him the plan was shortsighted and that finishing his degree was the clearest path to success.
“He was challenging me to raise the expectations I had for myself and anything would be possible,” Mr. Ricciardi said. He added that he still counts Dr. Curley, now a professor emeritus, as an “adviser,” going on 36 years now.
In closing, Mr. Ricciardi told the graduating class to “dare to dare” and to follow their passion.
The student speaker was Jabril Robinson of Braintree, a psychology major. He discussed that question young people are so often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “Would you be confused if I replied ‘responsible?’ ‘Honest?’ ‘Impactful?’ How about simply ‘A good man?’ he said. “If these are all examples of traits we aspire to, why don't we mention them?”
Mr. Robinson said the reason is that our society is too focused on goals.
“Let’s ask ourselves, ‘Where is our destination?’ The simple answer is, we haven't created one yet; but we will,” he said.
Dr. Richard Freeland, the state’s commissioner of higher education, delivered welcoming remarks, telling the graduates, “Well done, and timing is everything,” he said, citing the fact that the job outlook is markedly improved over that of four years ago when the class of 2013 entered BSU.
An Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree was conferred to Dr. Francis T. Cullen, ’72, a distinguished researcher and professor of criminal justice at the University of Cincinnati. Retired U.S. Rep. Barney Frank was presented with a Distinguished Service Award for his 30-plus years of service on Capitol Hill. (Story and photos by John Winters, G ’11, University Advancement)