Good morning, Father Shanley, Honored Guests, Family, Friends, and the Class of 2011! Welcome to Providence College's 93rd Commencement Ceremony!
Thank you to the Dominicans, Faculty, Staff, and Administration for your dedication to the students and the Providence College community. You have fostered a nurturing and stimulating environment on campus.
Thank you to our parents and families for your love and support, especially these past four years. We hope that we have made you proud.
My dear friends in the Class of 2011, thank you for the privilege of serving as your Class President for the past 3 years. It has been my honor to represent you.
WELCOME to our Commencement, Seniors! May 15, 2011 is OUR day. We have accomplished a tremendous feat--earning a Providence College diploma. We are all quite privileged and blessed to be here. Take a deep breath, look around you and savor every moment.
In his masterpiece Paradise Lost, John Milton wrote, "And the world was all before them . . . and PROVIDENCE their guide." From our strong liberal arts education in the Development of Western Civilization, the words of John Milton ring true 400 years later. The world is OURS, and we have Providence as our guide to ensure that we are never lost. Providence should lead us in every step of our lives--in our moral choices, in our relationships, and in our business decisions.
Many of us did not expect to come to PC. God's hand has been at work the whole time. Each of us was chosen to be a Friar--a true blessing. So much has happened since the Fall of 2007 when we first stepped foot on campus. We were given the great responsibility of being the caretakers of PC for a short but well-lived four years. This was our time to build it up and make it our own. We may have been disappointed or scared at times but at other times we have been pleasantly surprised and overjoyed. We cannot know for sure what the years ahead will hold for us, but we can trust in God's plan even if we cannot say fully what it is now. By looking back at our time at PC, we can see that this Divine Providence has been at work the entire time. As I stand before you today, I believe that we, together, have left our campus better than when we found it. Ninety-two classes have gone before us. Now we join the ranks of the long line of Providence College graduates who have contributed to and shaped PC.
This past summer, I had the incredible opportunity to volunteer in Kisumu, Kenya, as part of PC's Father Smith Fellowship Program. I worked at Our Lady of Grace, a school and orphanage run by the Dominican Order for over 200 children. On my last day in Kenya, before I flew back to my family in New York, Sister Mary, one of the Dominicans, told me to hold onto one piece of advice. She said, "Always be like a giraffe--stick your neck out for others and kick hard for the things that you truly believe in!"
We, as the Class of 2011, have stuck our neck for others. In small ways, we have helped our friends and roommates overcome difficulties on a daily basis. In large ways, we have joined together as a class and community to reach out to the world, as we worked for the relief effort in Haiti. We have taken these risks, because we believe that we have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters. The children at Our Lady of Grace had tremendous faith and complete trust in God's plan. They were a pure example of believing in Divine Providence.
We, as the Class of 2011, have kicked hard for the things that we believe in. We have stood together as Friar Fanatics, dressed in black and white from head to toe, cheering on each of our athletic teams. We have worked tirelessly for our clubs and organizations. We must continue to kick hard for the things we believe in--our families, friends, peace, and social justice. Our strengths should be used for the betterment of others. As busy as our lives become, remember the lessons that Providence has taught us.
Our class is a very loyal group. Let us retain the bonds we have formed with each other and the College in the years to come. Let us bring this loyalty out to the world around us. Our class is made up of some very passionate and determined individuals. We have immersed ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually these past four years at Providence.
The little, daily occurrences over the past four years have impacted us in ways that are far larger than we may realize. There were intramural games that we poured every ounce of energy into with the hope of winning a coveted t-shirt; there were conversations we had while pulling an all-nighter to finish a thesis; there was brunch on Sunday mornings with our friends in Ray cafeteria; there were Sunday nights at the 10:30 Mass being inspired by Father Cuddy; there were mornings running alongside our Dean of Students at the gym; there was time to unwind with roommates at the dorm; and there were Spring afternoons playing whiffle ball on the quad. As we go our separate ways after graduation, my hope is that we will always be connected as a class and as a Friar family.
From our first days on campus as nervous freshmen during Urban Action and Move-In Day, until today, we fill the Dunkin' Donuts Center as eager Seniors. We have been transformed as individuals and as a class. The Commencement Week Events have allowed us to come together. Moving forward, we need to bridge the gaps that will come with time and distance. The friendships we formed have molded us into who we are. When we see each other in the future, whether it is in two weeks or in five years, I hope we all pick up exactly where we left off.
My wish for us, the Class of 2011, is that we follow what we love! Whether we go on to be surgeons, teachers, CEOs, athletes, or politicians, I hope that we are people of Veritas, the Truth. While we must be realistic, we must also go in the direction that provides us with the most happiness and fulfillment. Let's go forth into the world as determined and loyal Friars. Class of 2011, the opportunities before us are endless.
The world needs us to be people of dignity and courage. Our quest for learning does not end here. We must anchor ourselves in Providence and sail forth with the lessons we have learned. The wind is at our backs and the horizon is bright. The world is all before us . . . and Providence is our guide. With the world in front of us and much un-charted territory, may Providence be our guide each and every day of our lives. We are today and always will be Friars, Class of 2011. Thank you and God Bless You.