And is the Graduate Ceremony Speaker at Fairfield University’s 72nd Commencement
Fairfield University held its 72nd Commencement ceremony for graduate students on Saturday, May 21, 2022, and on Sunday, May 22, 2022, for undergraduate students. At this year’s ceremony, 1,082 bachelor’s, 499 master’s, 23 sixth-year certificates, and 39 doctorates were awarded.
Among the degrees conferred were those for SMPA graduates Juan Figueroa, Class of 2019, who earned a Masters in Business Administration, and Ibelkis Tejada, Class of 2022, who received her Bachelors of Social Work (Magna Cum Laude.)
The speaker at the undergraduate ceremony was Robert D. Manfred Jr., attorney and business executive; and current commissioner of Major League Baseball (MLB). Mr. Manfred used his seat at the top of Major League Baseball to form a partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to not only inspire a new generation of baseball fans, but also to “give kids a chance to play” the sport, especially those from underserved areas.
Ms. Rivera, president of Saint Martin de Porres Academy, was the speaker at the graduate ceremony.
Ms. Rivera was also presented with an honorary degree in recognition of her lifetime commitment to serving marginalized and underserved people. She received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the graduate ceremony.
In her inspiring speech, she encouraged the graduates to use all that Fairfield University had instilled in them academically and spiritually, to continue to grow, learn and be leaders of change in the world.
Here are some excerpts from her speech:
“Today, you will be leaving this ceremony richer. You will hold in your hand a piece of paper that symbolizes the attainment of a level of education that a tiny fraction of people in the United States ever achieve. Despite having reached this milestone, I hope that you will never stop seeking wisdom…not only wisdom in the academic sense, but spiritual wisdom as well.
It is my hope that the core values of authenticity, courage, love, forgiveness, hope, healing, service and justice – have served as guiding principles during your time in Graduate School and will continue to inspire you and shape your lives and careers in the years ahead.”
“Walking alongside means more than just “being with” people. It entails deeply listening to them, supporting them and helping them listen to how God is working in their lives. It also means using our privilege to create access to resources.”
Trustee John Crawford said, “This is a significant honor. The board is very proud of her accomplishments and of her contributions to SMPA.”
Honorary degrees were also bestowed upon: Carl F. Bailey Jr. ’75, president and founder of Bailey & Beatty Financial Services and founder of Danbury Grassroots Academy, a free, year-round program focusing on education, character, tennis, and health; and Nicole Hockley, co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, which aims to help students, teachers, and parents recognize the signs of social isolation and anger in students, to head off violence before it starts. Sandy Hook Promise is a nonprofit created following the death of her son Dylan along with 19 other first-graders in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
Fairfield University shares with SMPA a Jesuit influence on its education model.