FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Close to 1,600 Sacred Heart University students set off into the world this weekend after receiving diplomas and words of advice from business leaders and classmates.
“Success is best built on a foundation of honesty and integrity,” Carl Anderson, J.D., supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus told 846 degree recipients at Sunday’s undergraduate commencement ceremonies. Noting that honesty and integrity have been critical in all the sectors where he has worked, he said, “I know that each of you in your personal life and among your friends want to be honest. Don’t let it end there. Today, more than ever, the world needs honest, trustworthy people who know that their actions have consequences.”
Anderson received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the ceremony.
Senior Class President Annie M. Rouquie reminded her classmates of the journey they had been on together for the past four years and the various paths each have taken. She concluded by saying, “don’t just leave with all your heart, leave with all your Sacred Heart.”
Jaime De Pinto, who leaves SHU with a bachelor’s degree in athletic training, is returning to her high school alma mater in Mahwah, NJ, as an athletic trainer. She appreciates the opportunity that college offered to be on her own and grow and believes that Sacred Heart was the right choice for her. “The small classes allowed me to develop a friendship with some of my teachers. I felt like I was a real person here, not just a number,” she said.
Jo Ann Phillips, of Cranford, NJ, and mother of graduating senior class treasurer Stephen Phillips, could not say enough about her son’s Sacred Heart education. “He doesn’t want to leave. If it was up to him, I think he would stay,” she said. She said that in addition to student government, her son got involved with track & field, Habitat for Humanity, the accounting club and was a founding member of the sailing club. “He entrenched himself here and that speaks volumes. I got my money’s worth out of this school, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”
During Saturday’s graduate commencement, the keynote speaker was Susan L. Davis, Ed.D., R.N., who was also presented with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. The chief executive officer of St. Vincent’s Health Services advised the 744 graduates to savor this moment they had worked so hard for and to thank those who helped them along the way.
“None of us can predict the future, but there is one thing we know, which is that throughout life, challenges, frustrations and fears happen. What is vital for your success is how you respond and what you do in in the face of adversity,” she said.
Davis offered the degree recipients several pieces of advice that ranged from counsel to defy labels, be passionate and be resilient to reminders that service is more important than self and to find the joy. “Life goes by in an instant,” she said. “In this fast-paced, crazy world, slow down enough to appreciate and revel in the many things you will experience – a baby’s smile, the hug of a friend, the spectacular palate of the fall countryside or the miracle of the flowers that return every spring.”
Tasonn Haynes, who received a certificate of advanced studies in administration from the College of Education, is hoping to land a job as a school principal. He currently teaches at Career High School in New Haven. He took his classes as part of the weekend cohort and found it was great solution for him. “It was seemless. It was the perfect opportunity for a single parent working full-time. She’s missing her softball game for this,” he said pointing toward his 10-year-old daughter. “But I’ve been trying to set a good example, and this is something she needs to see.”