At times it was definitely a struggle, but I kept my eyes on the prize. I’m feeling emotional, this has been a long time coming. It’s been a cumulation of blood, sweat and tears. I’m just really proud to be here.
Standing in a sunlit parking lot in the shadow of Gillette Stadium, with her mortarboard in hand, Ashley Silver, G’23, looked up at the giant structure with tears in her eyes.
“At times it was definitely a struggle, but I kept my eyes on the prize,” Silver said. “I’m feeling emotional, this has been a long time coming. It’s been an accumulation of blood, sweat and tears. I’m just really proud to be here.”
Silver was one of the 470 graduate students at Bridgewater State University’s 17th Graduate Commencement Convocation held Friday at Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium.
Now a double bear (she also earned her undergraduate degree from BSU in social work) Silver collected her master’s in social work during the May 12 ceremony.
Like many students in the audience, Silver worked full-time while pursuing her graduate degree and is also a parent. She said having support from BSU faculty and staff, and family and friends, was crucial in getting her to the commencement stage.
“Working full-time, taking care of my daughter, I was definitely busy. Thankfully I had support. I loved the faculty and had a wonderful cohort. I met a lot of good people,” Silver said.
Stay-at-home-mother-of-three, including a set of twins, Jill Bradshaw, G’23, said, having support as she pursued her master’s degree in counseling guided her to the finish line.
“I had a ton of support at home but also at school. I was pregnant during the program, but my professors were always available to help manage and move my schedule around,” she said.
Dr. Jean F. MacCormack, chairperson of the board of trustees, also spoke about the importance of support.
“You reach this milestone,” she said, “because of the support and help from many others. None of us achieve success on our own. There are very few ‘lone ranger’ leaders. Most things are achieved because of a village of people who believed in us and the possibility of something better.”
BSU President Frederick W. Clark Jr. said, he’s proud to see how the members of the class of 2023 overcame both profound and everyday challenges, including the pandemic, and has no doubt they will go out into the world and have a positive impact.
“Times dominated by hardships, give birth to the greatest generations of people. With all the adversity we’ve seen in a short time span, our newest graduates will be the next greatest generation. You are strong, you are determined...you, my friends, give us all hope for the future.”
Receiving an honorary degree at the event was renowned artist and sculptor Greg Wyatt, whose artwork is featured on the BSU campus in the Greg and Fay Wyatt Sculpture Garden, located on the eastern side of Maxwell Library.
Also receiving Distinguished Service Awards were Steven Karidoyanes, conductor and music director of the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra; and James Quinn and Lisa Troy, professors of theater and co-creators of Arts for Youth.
Student Speaker Oluwakemi “Kemi” Amodu, G’23, who earned a master’s in public administration, radiated positivity as she took to the stage and spoke to her fellow bears.
“Each of you have your own unique story,” she said. “Today let us celebrate our hard work and determination and express gratitude to all the people who supported us directly and indirectly.”
Amodu was met with cheers when she broke into song, singing lyrics from Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten.”
Many joined in and sang along, ultimately giving Amodu a standing ovation.
“Today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten,” she said. “What a great day to be alive! What a great day to be a bear!”
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