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At Commencement, Messages of Hope for a Changed World

The Class of 2022
From sage student speeches to the wisdom of Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, Endicott’s 82nd Commencement was filled with messages of hope and perseverance in the face of adversity.
By: Sarah Sweeney

What was supposed to be a sunny and hot day turned into a foggy morning for Endicott’s 82nd Commencement. But not even the weather could dampen the smiles of Endicott’s Class of 2022 graduates, who gathered in the Field House to ready their robes for the procession into Hempstead Stadium.  

Soon, the sound of bagpipes echoing through campus signaled the start of the joy-filled ceremony, which began with an invocation by the Rev. Dr. Gail Cantor, Endicott’s Director of Spiritual Life & Belonging. 

“Together as a community, we create the spiritual environment for this event,” Cantor told the crowd. “Together, we generate the intention for the success of these graduates who will make their impact on the world. We offer gratitude to the source of all life, called by many names and in many ways, for this opportunity.”

A community effort

Provost Beth M. Schwartz, Ph.D., welcomed the day’s guests to campus and thanked Endicott’s Board of Trustees, as well as the College’s faculty and staff.

“Our incredibly dedicated faculty are the ones to thank for their scholarship, guidance, and mentoring throughout our students’ time here,” said Schwartz. “And a big welcome and thank you to many staff members of Endicott who are there serving our students each day and who are here with us today to help make sure Commencement goes as planned.”

Schwartz told the Class of 2022 to soak in the moment as if they were still in the classroom. 

“Today is about launching your future, and the opportunity to reflect on your time here,” she said. “Listen carefully so you can remember the details of this important day in your life.”

The Class of 2022 was comprised of 697 undergraduates and 306 graduate students. The undergraduate cohort represented 22 states and five countries: Spain, Bermuda, India, Japan, and the U.S. 

Degrees Awarded by School
Curtis L. Gerrish School of Business: 200
School of Social Sciences, Communication, & Humanities: 167
Cummings School of Nursing and Health Sciences: 100
School of Sport Science: 78
School of Visual & Performing Arts: 63
School of Science & Technology: 46
School of Education: 43

Graduate students came to Endicott from as far as New Zealand, Hong Kong, Spain, Canada, India, China, and the United Arab Emirates. In all, 22 doctoral degrees and 284 master’s degrees were conferred. 

From graduates, for graduates

Graduate student speaker Patricia Crispi Ph.D. ’22 encouraged fellow graduates to make some time for self-care. 

A registered nurse for 29 years, Crispi recently completed her doctoral dissertation, which focused on exploring presenteeism and self-care behaviors in nurses. 

“My study supported that when you prioritize caring for your own physical and mental health, you are more equipped to be your most productive, happiest, and best self at work,” she said. “In turn, people who are able to do this are more satisfied at work and have greater self-compassion.”

Madison Smith ’22 gave the undergraduate address and began by recognizing the unpredictability over the past four years, and sharing some of the more amusing moments of navigating the pandemic early on. 

“Considering that many of us thought we would return to campus a few weeks after spring break 2020, the uncertainty of the pandemic taught us how to adapt, be patient, and be resourceful,” she said. “To speak from experience, after quarantining five times on campus, I learned that a rope and bucket work very well to get a coffee from the ground floor to the top floor of the Wylie Inn.”

Smith noted that while everyone says college is the best four years of your life, she is most excited for the future. 

“I am excited to see in 25 years what each of us has done in the world. Have we made it more equitable? More inclusive? More sustainable? We are adaptive learners and resilient people that can change the world. As B.B. King once said, ‘The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.’”

Awards all around

During the ceremony, Schwartz presented the Founder’s Medallion, which represents the ultimate in academic achievement, to English major Emma Cundari ’22. 

“She is not afraid to answer difficult questions or guide classmates to more thoughtful interpretations,” said Schwartz. “An outstanding writer and close reader in the literature classroom, she has also been extremely engaged outside the classroom as an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus.”

Afterward, President Steven R. DiSalvo, Ph.D. presented the President’s Award to dual criminal justice and psychology major Cameron Busby ’22. 

“Recipients of the President’s Award have represented themselves with integrity, have assumed responsibility, and have enriched the experience of their peers, faculty, and administration by their actions,” said President DiSalvo. 

‘Endicott College is forever’

Segueing into his address, President DiSalvo called the day “an inflection point.”

“Today’s inflection point on your individual journeys gives us the rich opportunity to stop. To look back, on all that has brought you to this day. And to look ahead, not only to the possibilities that have begun to present themselves but also for insight regarding how you will explore those very possibilities,” he said. 

“Put another way, you will confront—in all your days moving forward—the essential question posed in classic literature, in philosophy both ancient and contemporary, in music and art: How shall you live?”

Recalling the extraordinary circumstances the world has faced over the past few years, President DiSalvo commended the graduates for their resiliency. 

“When you first arrived at Endicott College, you knew, no doubt, that you would be challenged, certainly academically. And maybe you even anticipated being stretched a bit socially. But what has been asked of you these past several years has been so much more than that,” he said. 

Encouraging graduates to reflect on how far they’ve come, President DiSalvo asked the Class of 2022 to remember what worked—and what didn’t—when confronting the challenges of the past few years. 

“For the most informed answers, it is wise to look at what has worked for us in the past. What practices, and what traits have produced results you are most proud of? What principles have you relied upon—successfully—to bring you forward? Particularly in your darkest hours. What has served you well, and what has not?”

It is in those dark times, he said, “when we discover, whether as an individual or an organization, our capacity for doing more. For leaning into the headwinds that we face, rather than shrinking back from them.”

He also told the Class of 2022 to stay connected and to think of Endicott’s shores as a safe harbor. 

“Although you leave here today no longer undergraduate students, please be sure to remember this: College is for four years, but Endicott College is forever.”

Walsh’s wisdom for the Class of 2022

Lauding his extraordinary achievements as a labor leader, promoter of equity, and in his navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trustee Peter Flaherty welcomed Commencement speaker and U.S. Secretary of Labor Martin J. “Marty” Walsh to Endicott’s campus by presenting him with an honorary Doctor of Law degree. 

President Steven R. DiSalvo, Ph.D. and US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh

“If I knew getting a law degree was this easy, I would have done it a long time ago,” joked Walsh, who was sworn in as President Joe Biden’s 29th Secretary of Labor on March 23, 2021. 

Born and raised in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester by immigrant parents, the former Boston mayor said he was glad to be back in his old stomping grounds. In fact, he noted that just a few weeks ago, he was chatting with President Biden about delivering a commencement speech. 

“And I said to the President, ‘You know, I’ll go anywhere … as long as it’s inside 128, in Massachusetts. And it also has to have a hockey rink named after a famous Boston Bruin,” he said. (Endicott’s hockey rink is the Raymond J. Bourque Arena.) 

Walsh also spoke about making the most out of adversity in life, including the universal learning experience of the pandemic. 

“Some of you lost loved ones. Some of you got sick yourself or had loved ones that were really sick. Some of you had mental health struggles, either brought on or made worse by the pandemic. I’ve been there. And many, many others have been as well,” he said. 

“But, my friends, whatever the challenges that you faced, you all kept moving forward. You are here today on this beautiful campus, with your friends and your families, and people who love you. Your degree will soon be in hand. You earned that degree in ways that no one has done in our nation’s history.”

US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh

Walsh is not new to adversity. Diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma at age seven, Walsh confronted alcoholism as an adult before seeking treatment and earning a degree in political science from Boston College while working full-time as a legislator. 

“The people in recovery helped teach me how to live life one day at a time,” Walsh said. “I got back involved in my community with a clear head and I had a clear path forward. And I began to realize that the dreams I had as a young person could become a reality.”

No matter how tumultuous the world may be, Walsh said, “don’t let the uncertainty of this moment limit you. Don’t lower your expectations. And whenever you do, don’t shrink your dreams. In fact, aim bigger than ever. The future is now yours to create.  And we are depending on you.”