On Monday, May 13, 2019, the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) held its 84th commencement ceremony at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Family and friends gathered in the audience as the University awarded 235 bachelor’s degrees, 500 master’s degrees, and more than 80 doctoral degrees. Among the graduates this year was the inaugural class of USJ’s Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program, which began in January 2017.
From this first class, Kylie Hoang, M’19, was selected to offer her remarks after a rigorous two-and-a-half-year program. “At the University of Saint Joseph, from day one, we are taught the fundamental values of kindness and service to others. No matter which field you ultimately pursue and what path you take next in life, remember that we all have the power and ability to help others in even the smallest ways.”
Undergraduate speaker Jasmine Brown ’19, who earned her degree in English, drew on the importance of helping others as well, before asking her classmates to have faith as they take the next step in their lives. “Trust the process. Trust that you will get to be where you need to, in due time. Trust that you have what it takes to be great and make an impact in your community.”
The University recognized professors who have made profound impacts on the campus community, presenting the Reverend John J. Stack Teaching Excellence Award to Jennifer Cote, Ph.D., associate professor of History, for her outstanding work in the classroom, and the Sister Mary Ellen Murphy Scholarship Award to Elijah Nealy, Ph.D., assistant professor of Social Work and Equitable Community Practice, for his recent publications.
Before the degrees were conferred, commencement speaker Lynn Ricci, CEO of the Hospital for Special Care, took to the podium to offer advice to the graduates. “As you go out into this complex and exciting world, you will undoubtedly face adversity. Learning how to bounce up when you encounter difficult or unexpected obstacles will make you a more humble, more genuine and, arguably, a stronger person. If you recover from failure, you learn something about yourself. You are tougher than you thought. That’s how confidence is built.”
With the flipping of the tassel, graduates exited the ceremony and entered their futures with President Rhona Free’s address still ringing in their ears: “As a University of Saint Joseph student, you have been encouraged to be compassionate and respectful, to act with integrity and to serve others, to welcome differences and cultivate relationships of mutual respect,” shared President Rhona Free. “As you leave the University, whatever you do for work, in your community, and for your family, we hope you take those values with you.”
Congratulations, Class of 2019!