1,200 Graduates Urged to Think Deliberately, Act Decisively
Amid appeals to think deliberately and to transform the lives of others throughout their life’s journey, nearly 1,200 graduates of the Class of 2012 were awarded degrees at Providence College’s Ninety-Fourth Commencement Exercises on May 20 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence.
The College bestowed 1,197 diplomas in all — 926 through the Undergraduate Day School, 232 through graduate programs, 34 through the School of Continuing Education (SCE), and five to honorary degree recipients.
The Class of 2012 distinguished itself in numerous ways, most especially in academic excellence and leadership. A total of 260 graduates in the Undergraduate Day School earned summa cum laude, magna cum laude, or cum laude honors. Some 422 graduates were engaged in student government and/or other campus leadership positions.
In addition, 250 day school graduates studied abroad, and 70 percent participated in internships during their college careers.
Reflecting an improving job trend in which hiring of new college graduates nationally has risen 10.2 percent over a year ago, at least 30 percent of the Class of 2012 is already employed. At least another 22 percent have definitive post-graduate study plans in a multitude of fields.
Individually, two class members shared the honor of highest academic achievement by recording all A’s and a perfect grade point average of 4.00 throughout their careers: Michael A. Wahl ’12 (West Warwick, R.I.), a theology and mathematics double major, and Emma Wright ’12 (Lake Hill, N.Y.), a history major with minors in French and German.
In another academic distinction, Wright is one of two graduates of the Class of 2012 to receive a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. The prestigious Fulbright honor also was accorded to Chris Muyo ’12G (Martinez, Calif.), a member of the College’s two-year Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers (PACT) program under which graduate students obtain a master’s degree in education while teaching in New England Catholic diocesan schools.
Wright and Muyo will be taking their Fulbright assistantships to Germany and Malaysia, respectively.
Four of the five individuals who were awarded honorary degrees are PC alumni, while the fifth grew up in Rhode Island and has established a glittering career in Hollywood. That standout, actress Viola Davis ’12Hon., presented the Commencement Address and received an honorary doctor of fine arts degree.
Davis is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Aibileen Clark in the 2011 film The Help. Davis, who grew up in Central Falls, R.I., earned a Screen Actors Guild award for “Best Actress” for that film as well as Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations in the same category.
Sharing honorary degree recognition with Davis were:
• Charles J. Goetz, Ph.D. ’61, the Joseph M. Hartfield Chair Emeritus of the University of Virginia School of Law, doctor of laws;
• Catherine “Cammi” Granato ’93, entrepreneur and U.S. Olympic women’s ice hockey gold medalist, doctor of humanities;
• Paul A. Kearney, Jr., M.D., FACS ’75, professor of surgery at the University of Kentucky Medical Center, doctor of science; and
• Deacon Patrick J. A. Moynihan ’99G, president of The Haitian Project, doctor of humanitarian service.
Father Shanley issues homework assignment
In addition to Davis’ call to the Class of 2012 to live lives of adventure and meaning, commencement was punctuated at the outset by congratulations and advice from four greeters, three with College ties.
The first, College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80, gave class members “one last homework assignment.” He asked them to read Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), in which the author talks about reflexive or intuitive (fast) thinking and deliberate thinking.
Father Shanley disagreed with the book’s pretense that society doesn’t do enough thinking … at least as that premise pertains to PC. He reminded the graduates and the audience of more than 10,000 that the motto of the Dominican Order is contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere — “to contemplate and to share with other the fruits of the contemplation” — and that PC students are encouraged to think through issues fully, critically, and morally.
“I hope and pray that you have absorbed the value of slow thinking in your lives. Read the book slowly, think slowly, and act slowly,” he said.
Danielle C. Ladd ’12, senior class president, likewise presented a message of “action” to fellow graduates. Ladd, who early in her remarks asked for a moment of silence for deceased classmates Brendan M. Frail and Joshua D. Wildenhain, said commencement represented a time of change for all, but that the concept of change would be different for each graduate and would be both exciting and frightening.
A synonym for “change” is “transformation,” noted Ladd, saying that throughout their educational journey, class members saw their lives sway from the familiarity of high school and family to new and challenging experiences that tested them at PC. She reviewed an array of transformational circumstances and experiences, including campus infrastructure changes, service trips abroad and at home, historical milestones such as the election of America’s first African-American president, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Our futures will be filled with changes and transformation,” said Ladd. “As alums, it will be our duty to ‘pay it forward’ and give back to our communities. Let’s transform the world together.”
Fay A. Rozovsky, J.D., M.P.H. ’73 & ’08Hon., president of the PC National Alumni Association, urged the graduates to embrace the Friar alumni network. The network of regional alumni clubs and chapters and Web, electronic, and social media tools offers a variety of career, service-oriented, and social opportunities, and more, she pointed out.
“You’ve become a Friar forever,” enthused Rozovsky, who noted there are approximately 50,000 PC alumni.
Bringing greetings and congratulations from the City of Providence was Mayor Angel Taveras. He alluded to the contributions of PC alumni in the city and throughout the state and region, and he encouraged members of the Class of 2012 to take active roles in their communities as both workers and citizens.
“You can make a huge difference wherever you go. You bring a perspective that is needed now,” said Taveras.
For those unable to get to the ceremony, Commencement 2012 was well documented from a social media standpoint. A live stream video of the festivities was carried on the College’s Web site, and hundreds tuned in and commented via Twitter using the hashtag #pcgrad12 and Facebook, as well as viewed images on Flickr.
— Charles C. Joyce
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