Graduates, for you and for all those who surround you with love and pride today, the past four years have come to a quick close. With a short walk, handshake and diploma, you are now no longer students at the College of the Holy Cross. Over the past hour you have become Holy Cross alums, Class of ’15. Your years of study and research, your commitment to service and reflectivity, your joyful engagement of the arts and athletics, your self-knowledge and your spiritual growth, have brought you and us to this moment of celebration and separation.
Just as your parents entrusted you to us in the fall of 2011, today we entrust you to the world: women and men educated not only in the classroom but in the community, and not only on Mount St. James but around the globe. You have been enriched by your exposure to science, culture, and economics, and you have been transformed by your experiences of solidarity with those whose lives are radically different from your own. And if this Jesuit education has been truly transformative, you also have come to find God in all things: in your achievements and your losses; in your creativity and in our world’s need.
Certainly, 2015 will be forever remembered as “the winter of all winters.” As its survivors, hopefully we will also remember with deep gratitude the hard work and loving care of our staff, student life professionals and faculty who with great personal sacrifice ensured that we were all fed, that roads and pathways were passable, that classes were taught and office kept open.
On an even deeper level, 2015 will also be remembered as that year when domestic upheaval and violence challenged us to look inward and examine how we, living in a democratic country, realize our national commitment to “equal justice under the law.” As we acknowledge how far we have yet to travel as a people, we recognize that we are all responsible for the critical work of healing racial injustice. The burden cannot be carried by a few; it must be shared by us all. And in that sharing, continued here on Mount St. James and in civic life for our graduates, we truly “become more” as a people.
On behalf of the faculty and staff at the College, I want you to know that we who have committed ourselves to your education and formation, have come to see ourselves and our world differently because of all that you have given us. We are proud of your accomplishments and graced in your friendship.
And to your parents and families, and to our alums and donors who have made this educational experience possible for you, we will be forever grateful.
Looking ahead with joy to the community of alums that you are entering, and the ongoing friendships that will be nurtured there, we are filled with hope.
And finally, for all who have prepared this ceremony and for our speakers and honorary degree recipients whom we are about to recognize, we are blessed. Thank you.
Now, I am pleased to introduce to you our 2015 Valedictorian, Nicholas Cormier. Nick is known by multiple constituencies on our campus because of his celebrated academic achievements and his diverse co-curricular commitments. From Feeding Hills, Massachusetts, he is a biology and sociology double major and our 2014-2015 Fenwick Scholar, one of the highest academic honors the College bestows. Nick’s presentation of his year’s research: “The Social Management of Risk and Compliance in the Field of Transplant Medicine,” opened the Academic Conference a few weeks ago. Nick is a member of the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu, and the Sociology Honor Society, Alpha Kappa Delta, and yesterday he received the Teresa A. Churilla Award for Biology. It is hard to imagine that Nick has had time for anything else, but many of us also know him as the Lead Intern for Student Programs for Urban Development and as the Director of Music Ministry for our Interdenominational Service each weekend. Next year Nick will work as a research assistant as Baystate Medical Center in Springfield prior to applying to medical school. For all that he does all that he has accomplished, Nick is universally recognized as a man of great generosity, thoughtful leadership and quiet humility.