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Assumption Graduates 682 at 91st Commencement

The sun came out just in time for the hundreds of families and friends gathered for Assumption’s 91st Commencement exercises on May 17. Seated under and outside of the enormous white tent that covered the H.L. Rocheleau baseball field, the overflow crowd smiled proudly and cheered loudly as the College awarded 682 degrees and certificates, including 519 bachelor’s degrees, 150 graduate degrees, 13 associate’s degrees, and a dozen Certificates of Advanced Graduate Studies.

“We send you forth from this beautiful campus confident that you have gained mastery in a field of study,” President Francesco Cesareo told the graduates. “But, this mastery could have been gained at any institution of higher education. Your education at Assumption College has been different because it is an education that affirms a set of values grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition and enriched by the charism of the Augustinians of the Assumption.”

Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns, former United States undersecretary of state for political affairs, who delivered the Commencement address, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree, one of three honorary degrees awarded at this year’s Commencement. An international statesman and trusted advisor to world leaders, Ambassador Burns was the State Department’s third-highest ranking official. He served as the senior American career diplomat, overseeing and communicating U.S. foreign policy around the globe. He also served as Ambassador to NATO and Ambassador to Greece, among postings that took him to some of the most dangerous places in the world during his 25-year career in the Foreign Service.

“As you set out today from Assumption, may you retain the will to take risks, the strength to be courageous, the spirit of optimism and idealism that is particularly American, the importance of defending our great country, and the imperative of keeping alive the dream we don’t talk about enough anymore—the dream of peace—peace here in Worcester, peace in America, a global peace that will reach all people in all countries,” Ambassador Burns told the graduates. “As you graduate today, you join the ranks of a privileged community—the community of the educated. Your Assumption education has changed your life forever. It is the key to the American dream and will help to propel you forward all the days of your lives.”

Valedictorian Jeffrey Roy ’08 of Saugus, MA, encouraged his classmates to “learn from the past. Live in the present. Let go of the future. Keep God in your heart… I encourage all of you to take risks. Try new things. Most importantly, make mistakes. A passage from the Gospel of John reads: ‘He who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ When we live our lives in such a way, we are fulfilling the highest potential we have as human beings, or disciples of Christ.”

Sr. Margaret Leonard, LSA, CE’64, executive director of Project HOPE in Roxbury, Massachusetts since 1985 and one of Assumption’s first female graduates, received an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, for her enduring efforts to move families up and out of homelessness.  Under Sr. Margaret’s leadership, Project Hope has grown from a small emergency shelter to a multi-service center with an array of educational and economic empowerment programs that annually serves more than 1,000 families. She earned a master’s degree in social work at Fordham University.

Peter Deckers, M.D. AP’58 was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Science, for his career-long commitment to transforming medical school training, and for his fidelity and great generosity to Assumption. Dr. Deckers chaired the Assumption Prep Campaign Committee, as part of Assumption College’s Centennial Campaign, raising nearly $500,000 to construct the Assumption Prep Auditorium in Kennedy Memorial Hall. He is a 1958 Assumption Preparatory School alumnus. A 1962 graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, he earned his medical degree at Boston University. He recently stepped down from his positions as dean of the UConn School of Medicine and executive vice president of health affairs at UConn Health Center.

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