Overcast skies did nothing to dim the enthusiasm of the graduates who proudly accepted their diplomas at Chestnut Hill College’s 91st Commencement on May 12.
For the second year, the ceremony was held in Sorgenti Arena, where family and friends gathered with balloons, flowers and congratulatory signs. Students processed down the Rotunda staircase, through the Hall of Philanthropy and then outdoors and through the courtyard, where the walkway was lined with faculty, board members and administrators, all cheering for the soon-to-be CHC graduates, and into the arena.
Chair of the Board of Directors, Cathy Lockyer Moulton ’92, praised the graduates for completing their “long, winding journey,” and welcomed them into the “family of Griffins who will always lift you up.”
Graduate Kristian Hernandez ’18 spoke on behalf of graduates of all three schools when he said, “Welcome to the celebration of your accomplishments. We can all build our own story here … there is so much potential in this room, and although we will follow different paths, CHC is home for us all, and where we have made relationships that will last a lifetime.”
Sister Carol Jean Vale, Ph.D., president, reminded the students that they carry all the powers they will ever need within themselves, and then introduced the three individuals who received Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees: Marianne Valvardi Dwyer ’76, Father Francis Limo Riwa and John E. Wetzel, Pennsylvania’s secretary of corrections, who also was the commencement speaker. (Read more about the degree recipients in May’s Connections)
Wetzel created an instant rapport with the graduates when he talked about his less-than-stellar college career. “If I can get an honorary degree, you can do anything,” he began. “Seeing the joy in your faces and feeling the potential in the room is so cool. We need leaders like you … you can be as successful as you want to be.”
He reminded his audience that life’s big questions are, “How did you live your life? What impact did you have on this country and this world?”
“And remember, the saying is not, ‘Knowledge is powerful, but rather, the application of knowledge is powerful,’” he said. “This degree proves you have the requisite knowledge to earn it, but doesn’t mean more until you apply it.”
Wetzel also exhorted the graduates to have integrity and to make it their mission to make the world a better place.
“Do the right thing, right here, right now. And then do the next right thing,” he said. “Apply your knowledge, be powerful and remember that charity is always the right answer.
“I look forward to seeing how you bless this world.”
After the conferral of degrees, Sister Carol made some closing comments:
“Today is a milestone in your lives. This degree forever changes you and your possibilities for the future,” she said. “Well done! We are proud of you.”