Saint Michael’s College celebrates 117th Commencement

Members of the Saint Michael’s College Class of 2024 were urged by multiple speakers during the College’s 117th Convocatione Begin to shine their light on the world around them as they leave campus and navigate into the future.

Approximately 380 Saint Michael’s College students received bachelor’s and master’s degrees during the commencement celebration on Sunday, May 12, 2024. Degree recipients in the bachelor’s class of 2024 represented 23 states and 10 countries, while master’s graduates represented 10 states and five countries.

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Many in the class of 2024 entered Saint Michael’s during the first year of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Saint Michael President Richard Plumb, Ph.D., as he presided over his first commencement ceremony as president, he praised the class for doing so

President Richard Plumb, Ph.D.

their courage and resilience in facing and overcoming obstacles, including those arising from the international health emergency.

“You haven’t let uncertain times stop you from trying new experiences, making lifelong friends, gaining new ideas,

becoming a leader – all things that are essential to shaping who you are,” says Plumb.

He added: “You are prepared to face and navigate the complexities of the modern world with skill, professionalism and empathy. Based on your knowledge and understanding of global issues, your concern for the environment and your commitment to service and social justice, you are ready to go out into the world and make your mark.

“I am confident that whatever you choose to do and wherever you go, you will have a positive impact on the people and community around you.”

Dr. Ansel Augustinus, D.Min

Commencement speaker Dr. Ansel Augustinus, D.Min, recalled the story of David and Goliath in the Bible during his speech to the graduates. Augustine — an award-winning author and speaker, and deputy director of African American affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church — said David, armed only with a slingshot, focused on his faith and trust in God, even though Goliath seems to be surpassed. This, he said, ultimately helped him defeat Goliath.

As Augustine told the graduates, “It is not about you, but what God does through you.”

“As you go out into the world, there will be dangers, there will be challenges, there will be doubts,” Augustine told the graduates. “But I want you to understand that the same God who got you to this point is the same God who will get you to your goals.”

Augustine urged the graduates to use their experiences at St. Michael to sharpen their metaphorical slingshot and fight the ills of the world.

“You must remember that you are someone of importance, someone of value, someone of worth,” Augustine said. “If God took the time to make you, you have a purpose.”

Watch a highlight film from Patrick Bohan/Saint Michael’s College

Student speakers talk about joy found in the midst of obstacles

Makayla M. Blake from Albany, New York, who delivered the Senior Address to students, said that while the class faced obstacles due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic did not define the class. Even after a rough start, Blake said she and her classmates experienced a degree of normalcy later in their four years as college students.

“As you think back on that time, I encourage you to recognize all the hardships you overcame,” Blake said. “I would like you to emphasize how resilient, flexible, intelligent and strong we all are as a result.”

She added: “As we all take our final steps in this phase and say goodbye to our home away from home, please know that we are ready. We are ready to take on new challenges, new communities, new classrooms and new friends. Know that the endless hours of honing our skills, expanding our knowledge, and discovering our passions have prepared us for the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Graduate student speaker Henry Markham Haddad of West Hartford, Connecticut, said that when he reflected on his time at Saint Michael’s as both an undergraduate and graduate student, he realized that his favorite and most joyful moments were small acts of kindness. Haddad, who received a Master of Arts in Teaching at the commencement ceremony, said this realization caused him to remember an analogy his father taught him and his siblings growing up.

“He told us that if you were to light a candle in an open field in the middle of the day, you wouldn’t be able to see the light far at all,” Haddad said. “But if you were to place that same candle in the middle of a dark stadium, you could see its glow from every seat. You never know how dark the world is for people, and the same small act of kindness that may not seem that important to you can light up someone’s entire life.

Haddad encouraged his fellow graduates to take the small acts of kindness they so often practiced at Saint Michael’s out into the world.

“When you look at the world, it doesn’t take much imagination to realize that we need more people who are willing to live with a purpose bigger than themselves,” Haddad said. “And if St. Mike’s has taught me anything, it’s that when you surround yourself with a community of people who are willing to support and love each other, finding that purpose becomes much less of a challenge.”

Photo by Cat Cutillo/Saint Michael’s College

Prices announced at the start

Two students were recognized during the ceremony through the annual Katherine Fairbanks Memorial Award and Father Prevel Memorial Award. The awards are presented to outstanding seniors in the graduating class who have maintained a high level of academic achievement over four years and “have demonstrated their commitment to the intellectual, social and moral values ​​of the College through numerous and exemplary contributions to the life of the University . campus community.”

  • Winner of the Father Prevel Memorial Award: Swapnil Jhajharia from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, India.
  • Winner of the Katherine Fairbanks Memorial Award: Jenna L. Farber of Coventry, Rhode Island.

The following undergraduate students were also recognized for maintaining a 4.0 grade point average throughout their academic careers at Saint Michael’s:

  • Petra M. Bajuk of Colchester, Vermont
  • William F. Coburn of Orleans, Vermont
  • Katherine G. Culliton of Glens Falls, New York
  • Jenna L. Farber of Coventry, Rhode Island
  • Swapnil Jhajharia from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan, India
  • Valerie A. Johnston of Thornton, New Hampshire
  • Virginia R. Kelsey of Vail, CO
  • Finn J. McGillivray of Groton, Massachusetts
  • Sarah M Newton of Pembroke, New Hampshire
  • Allison B. Petrozzo of Huntington, New York

    Photo by Cat Cutillo/Saint Michael’s College

    Photo by Cat Cutillo/Saint Michael’s College