Emmanuel Celebrates Graduates, Honorees at 2010 Commencement
May 11, 2010
Emmanuel College conferred nearly 600 degrees to bachelor's and master's candidates during its 88th Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 8th.
In the opening remarks of the ceremony, College President Sister Janet Eisner, SND commended members of the Class of 2010 for contributing their talents and energy to the Emmanuel of today.
"When I welcomed you in the fall of 2006 I told you that Emmanuel would never be the same now that you were here. As freshmen, your Orientation theme was "License to Lead" and you have done just that at Emmanuel College," she said. "I now give you a license to lead outside of Emmanuel. Emmanuel has given you an education that has challenged you, demanded the very best of you, and I know that you credit your faculty with that experience."
Sister Janet also recognized three members of the Emmanuel College faculty, Assistant Professor of English Lisa Falvey, Professor of Biology Douglas Crandall and Professor of Psychology Michael St. Clair. Falvey was honored with the Faculty Excellence Award while Crandall and St. Clair were conferred the ranks of Professor Emeritis. Crandall and St. Clair have each served on the Emmanuel College faculty for 34 and 37 years, respectively.
Undergraduate student Kevin Britton Smith ‘10 also addressed the Class of 2010 as did Graduate Studies student Lenore Jackson-Pope '10.
Paul Farmer, M.D., Ph.D. delivered the Commencement Address. Dr. Farmer, a medical anthropologist and physician, is a founding director of Partners In Health (PIH), an international nonprofit organization that provides direct health care services and conducts research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. Dr. Farmer's work has received significant attention in recent months as PIH took a leading role in providing medical care to victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Honorary degrees were awarded to attorney and advocate for issues impacting women, children and families Victoria Reggie Kennedy, Boston real estate developer and community leader Joseph Corcoran, founder and pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston Reverend Dr. Ray Hammond, and Maureen ‘56 and Frank Wilkens, who have made an indelible impression on Emmanuel through their commitment and generosity to the College.
Kennedy wished the students luck, commended them on their achievements and told them about the Kennedys' long history with the college. Her late husband, former U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, received an honorary degree back in 1964, and his brothers, John and Robert Kennedy were both on the college's Board of Trustees.
"You have never stopped asking what you can do for your community and I know you never will," she said of the graduates.
Farmer's address to the Class of 2010 was focused on the ability of each graduate to become a hero in their own way. He began his address by naming a few well-known heroes, including Oscar Romero, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Louis Pasteur, Martin Luther King Jr., Joan of Arc and even our own Sister Janet Eisner.
"Today I would like to talk about heroes and heroism. Each of us probably has our own list of great men and women. Each of these great people has something in common with all of us. They were, or are, all flawed. Their greatness was disputed during their times," he said. "That's my point: just as no one is ever a perfect hero, so too can all of you be heroic."
Farmer also discussed the disaster left behind by the earthquake in Haiti, where he has worked his entire adult life. He stated that while there has been great suffering in Haiti, there have also been great acts of kindness and courage by people who have contributed heroically to alleviate that suffering and save lives.
"Haiti is not only our oldest neighbor, and one to which we have an enormous debt; it is not only a microcosm of all that can go wrong. It is an example of an inspiring, if beleaguered, place where much can be set right, too," he said. "And lessons learned in rebuilding Haiti will, I firmly believe, help save our planet."
In his best effort to avoid clichéd graduation speech claims, Farmer confirmed that the Class of 2010 is the generation that will change the future.
"There was a time when commencement exercises took place with a ringing denunciation of slavery, of unjust wars, or failure to respond effectively and rapidly to human suffering. And there must have been, listening to some of those speeches, the very people who would themselves fight slave trade, resist unjust wars, or devote themselves to the alleviation of human suffering," said Farmer. "Some of the heroes of the future were sitting in those commencement audiences. Some of the heroes of our future are sitting in this audience."
Farmer went on to celebrate members of the Emmanuel community who are already serving as heroes, such as Chris Borges '10, for his immunology research efforts, as well as Meagan Mingo '10 who will soon begin a fellowship working with Boston-based Healthcare for the Homeless. He also mentioned all of the honorary degree recipients as heroes amongst those in attendance, mentioning their work as inspiration to continue working towards a better world. He concluded his address with a challenge to the graduates.
"If indeed heroism is needed in our day, and heroism is to be found in a million little deeds, what can all of us agree to do today to come together to address problems as varied as marrow transplant, global health equity, disaster preparedness and response, homelessness, and lack of access to training of mathematics in central Africa?" he asked. "Since you've already done a great deal, as the student groups I met with this morning showed me, what more can you, and we, do?"