Three days before Mother’s Day, a 9-year-old girl sat beneath a tent on the Boyden Quadrangle during Bridgewater State University’s graduate commencement ceremony. Suddenly, she heard a loud voice talking about her mother.
The man speaking was President Frederick W. Clark Jr., who told the 300 graduate students, and hundreds more in the audience, how Angelica Moore, ’11, doggedly pursued her master’s degree. But the pursuit wasn’t primarily motivated by the possibility of career advancement, the president said of Ms. Moore, who lives on the Cape and works as an investigator at the state Department of Children and Families. She also gave birth just four months ago and served as the evening’s student speaker.
“Growing up, she had a measure of adversity in her home life. She’s been overcoming one obstacle at a time,” President Clark said. “When she got to Bridgewater, she kept at it. Why? Because it mattered to her that her oldest daughter sees something different — something that she could aspire to.”
Ms. Moore was one of approximately 450 students who received their master’s degrees and certificates of advanced graduate study at Wednesday night’s 12th Graduate Commencement Convocation. No doubt, some of the graduates had stories similar to hers.
Graduate commencement had previously been held in the Rondileau Campus Center, but this year had been moved under the giant tent that has long been used for undergraduate commencement ceremonies. President Clark noted this fact, also mentioning the less-than-cooperative weather.
“This is the first year in our history that we’ve had the graduate commencement outdoors because we wanted to make sure all of our family and friends could be here. We just put an order in to turn up the heat. Other than that, I think it’s perfect,” he said.
Watch the full ceremony here.
Rep. Patricia A. Haddad, ’72, of Somerset, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, delivered the commencement address and received an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service in recognition of her 16 years of service to the people of the Fifth Bristol District, consisting of Dighton, Somerset, Swansea and Taunton. She spoke about BSU’s longstanding place in the region.
“I listen to [President Clark’s] stories and realize that Bridgewater — from the time it was Bridgewater Normal School until today — has always had the same mission: Make sure the people of this region have access to education, to good minds and access to opportunities,” she said.
Rep. Haddad is an advocate of equal opportunity for women, and her position as the highest-ranking woman in the Massachusetts General Court reflects her commitment to the highest ideals of public service. Perhaps it was with this in mind that she issued some advice to the graduates: “Show up, speak up, look up, team up, and never, never give up, Class of 2017.”
In his address, President Clark turned the focus back on the graduates.
“No clever turn of phrase could possibly be more inspiring than the story of any one of you,” he said. “Your story is the story of BSU… and I could not be prouder of you tonight. I hope you feel the weight of what you accomplished.”
Trustee Chairman Eugene J. Durgin Jr. congratulated the graduates, and reminded them of their uniqueness as individuals.
“Having met thousands of Bridgewater grads, I can tell you that when you’ve met one Bridgewater grad, you’ve met one Bridgewater grad,” he said.
When student speaker, Ms. Moore, who earned a Master of Social Work degree, stepped to the podium, she spoke of the accomplishment she shared with her fellow graduates.
“I never imagined that I would be standing here today,” she said. “Our experiences at Bridgewater have shown us just how strong we are, that we are indeed capable of becoming the very best versions of ourselves.
“Don’t think of this achievement as an end,” Ms. Moore added. “I challenge you to not let this be the last step you take. Allow this day of commencement and academic achievement be a glimpse of what you will do and what you will become.”
The university presented a Distinguished Service Award to James and Theresa Orcutt, founders of My Brother’s Keeper of Easton/Brockton and Dartmouth. The Distinguished Service Award honors a person or an organization whose significant acts of public service have created opportunities for citizens of Southeastern Massachusetts.
A major academic award for Distinguished Graduate Research-Project Award was presented to Josephine Madonna of Abington for her project titled “Mindfulness Practitioners Clarify the Concept of ‘Re-perceiving’: A Qualitative Interview Study.” Ms. Madonna received her Master of Arts in Psychology at the ceremony.