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The next chapter

News Feature

News & Events

January 26, 2012

Bridgewater State University held its 26th Winter Commencement Ceremony Friday night, awarding nearly 400 bachelor's degrees. The evening's speakers encouraged graduates to pursue their dreams but to always remember those who helped them along the way.

The event, held in the Rondileau Campus Center Auditorium, annually welcomes back an alumnus of the institution to address the graduates.

Delivering this year's address was by Bruce Anderson, a 1987 Bridgewater graduate, and producer for 20th Century Fox's animation division, Blue Sky Studios. Most recently, Mr. Anderson produced the widely popular, computer-animated family film, "Rio."

"Consider your life a movie, with a compelling beginning, middle and end," he said. "Our theme is how you should expect the unexpected."

Previously, the Newtown, CT, resident served as production manager on "Ice Age: The Meltdown" (2006), producer on "Dr. Suess' Horton Hears a Who" (2008) and general manager for "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" (2009), a record-breaker that earned nearly $1 billion worldwide. He also worked as department manager for Disney Feature Animation on the popular films "Mulan" (1998), "Lilo and Stitch" (2002) and "Tarzan" (1999).

He discussed his career of three decades and the positive effects of family, starting at the bottom, hard work, education and a curious nature.

Taking initiative and taking chances in the pursuit of one's goal is key, Mr. Anderson said. He finished by telling the graduates that their lives were now a blank page. "Your degree does not make you special," he said. "It's what you do with it that will make you special."

President Dana Mohler-Faria told the graduates to remember they are each "a part of the fabric of humanity."

"We hope that we have given you the tools that will bring back civility& to know that justice matters for everyone," President Mohler-Faria said. "We also hope we have given you the curiosity to explore things. And we hope we have given you the values that will sustain you."

The president also took time to acknowledge a special guest at this year's winter commencement. His Excellency Jose Maria Pereira Neves, prime minister of the Republic of Cape Verde, who was in attendance to witness his son, Jose, earn his degree in political science.

Also addressing the graduates was Louis Ricciardi, '81, chairman of the BSU Board of Trustees and vice chairperson of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education. In October, the institution named its College of Business after Mr. Ricciardi.

He told the graduates to allow education to "ignite the passion in your heart. It is easy to be ordinary," he continued, "but an even better choice is to be extraordinary. Never stop learning and to embrace all challenges."

Student speaker Katie Wilber, who earned her degree in communication disorders, charged her fellow classmates with creating change in the world through good deeds and collaboration, no matter what path they take after graduation.

"Each of us has unique stories, experiences, personality, qualities and gifts, and each of us can touch the world in a way no one else can," said Ms. Wilber of Plymouth. "When we each discover the power within ourselves, and collaborate and join with others who have done the same, the possibilities are endless."

Ms. Wilber was active in various activities and organizations during her time at BSU, including Jumpstart; the FAM for Change program, which pairs BSU students with young people from the city of Brockton; the Social Justice League; and the BSU chapter of the international charity Free the Children, of which she was president.

In her speech, which focused on finding inspiration, Ms. Wilber noted a memorable experience she had with bringing her 14-year-old FAM for Change mentee to help tutor local homeless children. Ms. Wilber looked over to see her mentee, who was at first reluctant to tutor, and a 9-year-old student smiling and enjoying the learning experience.

"In this moment I realized the purpose of education: inspiration," said Ms. Wilber. "My mentee was not being me, she was not being her mother or her teacher. She was being herself and was able to connect with this little girl in a way I never could. Inspiring others is not showing a person who they should be it is holding up a mirror and showing them who they already are."

Additionally, Ms. Wilber participated in service learning and study abroad trips to Tanzania, Cape Verde and Arizona. Her next step is to serve with Teach for America as an ESL elementary teacher in Providence. (Story and photos by John Winters, G'11, University Advancement)

Jose Maria Pereira Neves, prime minister of Cape Verde, left, relaxes with Presidnet Mohler-Faria
Bruce Anderson, '87, delivers the keynote address
Graduate Julie Clerc of Acushnet
Student speaker Katie Wilber
Graduate Shanesha Christmas of Dorchester
Louis Ricciard, 81, addresses the graduates
President Dana Mohler-Faria
The handing out of diplomas begins...

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