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Degrees of Honor

News Feature

News & Events

May 16, 2013

More than 500 graduate students received master’s degrees and certificates of advanced graduate study at the eighth Graduate Commencement Convocation.

The recent marathon bombings were on the minds of more than one of the speakers who addressed the crowd inside the Rondileau Campus Center Auditorium, including President Dana Mohler-Faria. “It causes us to pause and think about who we are, about what we really stand for as a nation, as a university and as individuals,” he said. “What is it that really matters? And what matters is not only protecting and maintaining a civil society but also engaging in a way that when we sacrifice it is for the benefit of others and the greater good.”

The keynote address was delivered by 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. He said the institution often delivered to him more than he expected.

He recalled the fall of 1978, when he was a sophomore, when he took what he thought would be a “simple course.” It was Piano 1 with Professor Emeritus Henry Santos.

“(He) used the keyboard as a metaphor for life, passion and an expression of the value the liberal arts have in helping us understand all that life can be,” Mr. Ricciardi said.

He added that Professor Santos has become his friend and mentor through life; he was Mr. Ricciardi’s special guest at the graduate convocation ceremony.

“May all of you be blessed with lifelong relations with Bridgewater State faculty who have guided you through your years here,” Mr. Ricciardi said. He then went on to give the students some practical advice (start saving for retirement, toss out credit card offers), before adding: “Make regular time to sit and chat with your grandparents, your parents and your dear friends and be energized by their collective wisdom for they depart much too quickly from our lives.”

Nancy McCool of Hopkinton, a master’s of social work degree recipient, addressed her fellow graduate students, telling them the word of the evening was “inspiration.” “We sit here among career changers, game changers, and diaper changers,” she said. “We are caregivers, caretakers and history makers. We are debtors. We are in debt to our family and friends for support and in debt to our local lending intuitions,” she said.

Ms. McCool also shared her thoughts about the Boston Marathon bombings. “Those events were designed to shatter our conf and our resolve, but they did the opposite,” she said. “We are more committed today to our families and communities...”

The ceremony included the presentation of two major graduate awards. Leslie Pirtle of Kingston, Master of Education in Instructional Technology, received the Distinguished Graduate Research-Project Award, and Tasha Ramos of Centerville, Master of Arts in English, received the Distinguished Graduate Thesis Award. (Photos by TVS, story by John Winters, G ’11, University Advancement)

President Mohler-Faria delivers his address.
Keynote speaker Louis Ricciardi, '81,
The handing out of degrees