Fairfield University awards 858 diplomas at 61st annual commencement for undergraduates


 

Image: D AugustAs the sun struggled to make an appearance, Fairfield University awarded diplomas to 858 undergraduate students at the 61st commencement exercise today. The university also awarded seven associate's degrees, from the School of Engineering and University College. Commencement for students in graduate programs will take place this afternoon when 405 master's degrees and 22 certificates of advanced study will be awarded. Attended by an estimated 7,000 family members and friends, the morning ceremony at the Jesuit institution was an opportunity for Fairfield to continue its tradition of celebrating students and honorary degree recipients who are "men and women for others."

It seemed fitting, then that the keynote speaker was also an individual who has a profound commitment to Ignatian ideals of service: the Honorable Maryanne Trump Barry, a highly influential judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals Third Circuit, which covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Regarded as a community leader with a longstanding commitment to education, Barry's commitment to service has led her to support the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, Sacred Heart Church in Camden, N.J., the New York Province Society of Jesus, and earthquake relief groups in Chile and Haiti.

Speaking at the ceremony on Bellarmine Hall lawn, Judge Barry spoke of the immense value of a Jesuit education.

Image: J Espino

A Manhattan resident, she spoke of how faith, courage, and hope are essential in life. Barry emphasized success to her isn't solely about professional success but something that can be measured in other ways such as by bringing a child into the world and raising that child to be a good man or good woman. "I have always said my greatest success is my son," she noted.

Barry went on to say to the graduating class that there is no substitute for "good, old-fashioned hard work." "By dint of hard work, we make our luck," the judge observed. Noting the asset of having the "good Lord" in her life, she insisted to the Class of 2011 that they not be deterred by any fears or insecurities that they might harbor, as she has not been immune to feeling scared many times in her life.

"You will never know what you can do unless and until you try," she said. "You will find with every little success, the fears and the insecurities will gradually fade away... But even if you don't succeed in reaching a particular goal, you grow from the trying. And then you try again."

She later added, "And when you are troubled and maybe when you are tired of trying, I recommend to you an inner sanctuary to go to - a few moments or maybe more of peace and reflection and prayer."  

Image: Judge Barry

Barry urged graduates to fulfill the purpose of the educational mission of Fairfield - "to be the global citizens this new and difficult world needs now." Barry concluded by talking of St. Ignatius linking love of God with love of neighbor. "No exercise is better for the human heart than the reaching down and lifting up of another person - This is the heart of the living part of the integration of life and learning, this is the heart of what you have been taught at this wonderful University - this vision of 'finding God in all things,' " said Barry. "Make it more than a vision. Look around. See what needs to be done and do it."

Stephen Bottari, Jr., of Chelmsford, Mass., a double major in Communication and Politics in the College of Arts & Sciences, delivered the valedictory address. A fixture within the university's Media Center, he has put his affable personality to work by hosting campus events such as Cinefest. A Fairfield service trip to Ecuador changed his life's path, he told his fellow graduates. There, at an after school program, he met a little girl, undaunted by the poverty and determined to become a doctor. He quickly became passionate about pursuing his own calling: helping people share their stories via journalism.

"[Afterwards] I became a leader at the student television station and I focused my studies more on storytelling: in television, in film and in books," said Bottari, noting his next move was a demanding internship at ABC News. "The lack of sleep and the sheer amount of work were managed by this spark that had been ignited inside me that led me to push beyond what I thought were boundaries of my capabilities.

"So today, I challenge each one of you here - graduates, faculty and family alike - to really ask yourself, what is the reason for which you get out of bed every morning?" asked Bottari, imploring his peers, "Take this Fairfield University education. Take the responsibilities it bears with it.... Climb the mountains of love; map out the rivers of friendship; unearth your purpose."

With an eye toward working in television news, he will pursue his master's degree and work as a teaching assistant at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School Of Public Communications.

Image: Trumps

Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., urged graduates to engage with the world in a transformative manner, and to make that world a more just and compassionate place. "We hope as you go forward that you will remember how the education you received here has made you the person that you are: an integrated person and a person of integrity," he said. "As your teachers and supporters, we have asked you to reach for the highest standards, to reach for ‘the more.' We have also asked you during your time here to look into your own hearts. We have asked you to discern that along with the privilege of education comes the obligation to be of service to those who need what you have to give."

This year, one Dolan School of Business graduate and two College of Arts & Sciences graduates were awarded the Bellarmine Medal, which is given to the student with the highest four-year academic average: Diane E. Kremheller, of Greenwich, Conn., an accounting major, who will be working for PricewaterhouseCoopers; economics major Aaron M. Brown, of Seymour, Conn., who landed a position with Goldman Sachs in New York City; and biology major Sarah T. Lander, of Narrowsburg, N.Y., who will be attending medical school at SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Fr. von Arx presented international studies and creative writing double major Eric Clayton, of North Wales, Pa., with the St. Ignatius Loyola Medal, presented annually by the Fairfield University Alumni Association to the senior who best exemplifies the true spirit of a Jesuit education. A resident assistant, writing tutor and Eucharistic minister, he will soon travel to South America to work with at-risk children and young adults in impoverished Bolivia.

Graduates also included New Haven, Conn. native Adam LaVorgna, an actor who starred in the television show "7th Heaven" before earning his bachelor of arts from University College. After picking up her diploma in the morning, Jennifer Nicole Lawlor, of Westwood, Mass., will return for the graduate ceremony in the afternoon. She is the first student to complete the School of Engineering's five-year B.S./M.S. program, geared to the next generation of engineers finding software solutions to complex technological and societal problems. She is fielding job offers, while interning for NASDAQ. While at Fairfield, School of Nursing graduate Michael Cicirelli became an activist via his "Project Halo" initiative by speaking out against abuse and discrimination against gays and lesbians, based on the acts of intolerance he endured as a high school student. He's been accepted to Fairfield's new Doctor of Nursing program.

Image: S Bottari

In the Class of 2011, Fairfield also counts among its ranks students who took on other social justice projects, provided a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, raised environmental awareness on campus, and created student living and learning programs.

Dana August, of Carlsbad, Calif., the recipient of a Student Achievement Award for environmental action, plans to work on Fairfield University's campus carbon footprint reduction plan after graduation. Shawne Lomauro, of Freehold, N.J., who received a Student Achievement Award for her numerous campus social activism efforts, will put her economics degree to good use by working for Ernst & Young's transfer pricing department in New York City. Additional graduates singled out by the university with Student Achievement Awards included Joseph Calvaruso, of Pelham Manor, N.Y., who plans to conduct an independent study within the field of psychology; Lauren Johnson, of Southington, Conn., an English major, who will be joining the Urban Catholic Teachers Corps of Boston College. Through the program, she will teach at a Catholic high school in Boston while pursing a master's degree at BC; and Janet Latuga, of East Williston, N.Y., a marketing major who was honored with the William J. Kramer '60 Humanitarian Award for improving the lives of artisans in Nicaragua with a Dolan School project that will continue after she leaves.

Judge Barry received an honorary degree with three other distinguished honorees: Stamford, Conn. native Russell L. Goings, co-founder of Essence Magazine and a former NFL player who studied writing and poetry at Fairfield; Rev. John W. O'Malley, S.J., renowned historian and a university professor in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University; and Fairfield, Conn. resident Joseph D. Sargent, former president and CEO of Guardian Life who graduated Fairfield in 1959.

Speaking at the graduate ceremony today at 3 p.m. will be Fairfield, Conn. native Rear Admiral Brian P. Monahan, a 1982 graduate of Fairfield, attending physician for the United States Congress and United States Supreme Court. A pioneer in the medical field, Dr. Monahan has served as lead investigator on numerous clinical trials of novel anti-cancer drugs leading to innovations in colon cancer and clinical pharmacology. Monahan will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Images:
Dana August, of Carlsbad, Calif., celebrates after receiving her diploma at Fairfield University's 61st commencement.
Jorge Luis Espino, a Communication-Media Studies major from Miami, Florida, was one of the 858 undergraduates who earned bachelor's degrees from Fairfield University on May 22, 2011.
The Honorable Maryanne Trump Barry, a highly influential judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals Third Circuit, was Fairfield University's 2011 commencement speaker. She also received an honorary degree from the Jesuit institution.
Mr. and Mrs. Donald Trump attended the ceremony. Donald Trump is the brother of Judge Maryanne Trump Barry.
Stephen Bottari, of Chelmsford, Mass., a double major in Communication and Politics, delivered the valedictory address

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on May 22, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 311