[b]James Oliveira[/b] of New Bedford still can't believe it's over.
"It's a big sigh of relief, though I still wake up and say 'what's due today?'" the athletic training major said, as he waited to take his place in the line of graduates about to participate in Bridgewater State University's 171st spring commencement ceremony. "It hasn't sunk in yet."
Mr. Oliveira was one of roughly 1,100 students who graduated Saturday morning under beautiful, sunny skies.
Each of the university's four colleges were represented: Louis M. Ricciardi College of Business, Bartlett College of Science and Mathematics, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and College of Education and Allied Studies.
[b](Click [link]here|http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL164BF570F81E2C7B[/link] for videos of the commencement ceremony courtesy of Moakley TV Studio.)[/b]
President [b]Dana Mohler-Faria[/b] presided over the ceremony, which was held under a large tent on the Boyden Quadrangle before thousands of family and friends of the graduates and special guests. He congratulated the graduates, but told them to remember they now have a higher purpose as citizens of the world.
"You must understand that you have a purpose besides survival and consumption," he said. "Your life is not just about yourselves. You are a thread in the fabric of humanity and you have an obligation to improve the human condition."
President Mohler-Faria is in his twentieth year at Bridgewater, the last ten as its president. Trustee Chairman [b]Louis Ricciardi[/b], '81, pointed out these milestones at the start of his remarks. He then encouraged the graduates to continue to take on the challenges that life brings. Citing that 90 percent of BSU students work either part- or full-time, and do it without complaining, he told them, "Occupying reality was the real path to your success."
[b]Dr. Jean F. MacCormack[/b], retiring chancellor of the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth was presented with an honorary degree. She recounted her life, as a girl from Dorchester who was the first in her family to attend college. Recounting her career, she told of the detours she embraced along the way and the benefit of taking chances and working hard.
"Life is often not a straight line to get to your goal," she said.
Ultimately, she asked graduates to remember to, "Yes, make a living, but don't forget a meaningful life."
[b]Scott Lang[/b], former mayor of New Bedford, received a Distinguished Service Award for his community service work. After remembering late BSU Administrator [b]Dr. Edward Minnock[/b], he said he plans to continue working for the betterment of his city and beyond and inspiring others to do the same.
"I hope to use this award to encourage our residents to participate in our ever-changing society," he said.
[b]Bruce Bartlett[/b], '68, of Duxbury, who along with his wife, [b]Patricia[/b], '67, recently donated $2 million to the university, also addressed the graduates. He recalled how the campus used to look when he was a student. From the podium he pointed to the place where he presented his wife, then his girlfriend, with his fraternity pin.
Mr. Bartlett looked back over a career path that included not only the founding of a successful nuclear company, but also a stint as "mall cop."
"What did I learn from all these part-time jobs? I learned I needed a college degree," he said.
He left the graduates with a bit of advice, words he said that have served he and his wife well.
"Never worry about what path you take but always work hard, believe in yourself, love life and think about how you can make life better for others," he said. "And thank you Bridgewater State University for having such a profound influence on our lives."
Delivering the student address was mathematics major [b]Melissa Hughes[/b]. She praised fellow classmates who have made a difference on campus and beyond, especially those who fight for social justice.
"Each of these individuals is great; one person can make a lasting difference in this world," said the Millville native. "But it is not the power of one that we celebrate today. No, today we represent the power of 'we.' Recognizing and utilizing the power of 'we' is what transforms a great idea into a great success."
Commencement marked the culmination of years of striving and studying for the graduates. [b]Josh Mattson[/b] of Taunton, who received his degree in athletic training, was happy to reap the rewards of his efforts.
"It's been a long time coming and we've put in a lot of work," he said. "It feels good to be rewarded for all we've done over the past four years." (Story by John Winters, G '11; photos by Robert Matheson,'07, G' 12; University Advancement)
A photo montage of the commencement ceremony.