Catholic Free Press

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  • May
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Anna Maria holds 63rd Commencement

Posted By May 24, 2012 | 12:29 pm | Lead Story #3

By Tanya Connor

Student speakers challenged classmates, a religious sister was honored and innovations were announced at Anna Maria College’s 63rd commencement Saturday at Hanover Theatre in Worcester.
Father Manuel Clavijo, chaplain, prayed about graduates being a light for a world in need. He prayed that Sister Barbara Flynn, who was about to receive an honorary doctorate in human services, would be an example, a reason to hope.
A member of the Sisters of St. Anne who founded the college in 1946, Sister Barbara taught there and was on the Board of Trustees. Among her many services, she chaired Worcester’s Diocesan Board of Education, ministered at Calvary Retreat Center in Shrewsbury and continues to offer spiritual direction.
Jack P. Calareso, college president, said of the Sisters, “They are our past and they guide our vision for the future.”
He said innovations were honors program students wearing gold medallions signifying their success and commitment to the life of the mind, and students of color wearing kente cloth stoles representing their heritage.
President Calareso told graduates to be proud of their academic success and Anna Maria values. He encouraged them to keep friendships, “use your head but follow your heart” since “knowledge comes from the head…wisdom often comes from the heart,” and be the fire for peace and what is right.
“I thought that college was about training us for our careers…and once this training was complete, we would…be…happy,” Julieann M. Hartley,said in the undergraduate student address.
Bringing music therapy to people with schizophrenia and depression brought that into question. She said one woman lost her sense of reality then became aware of it.
“Where was happiness here?” wondered Ms. Hartley. “Is there something more to life than just pursuing happiness?”
She spoke of living successfully despite hardships and of learning that happiness is sweet and precious, but balance sustains a person.
“Each time our hearts hurt, they can open even wider,” she said.
She told classmates: “We’re graduating at the end of a recession, the end of a war,” and said that they can change the world in different ways.
Ms. Hartley received the Dr. Bernadette Madore Award for Academic Excellence, given to  the graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average, for her 3.991 GPA.
President Calareso called it a bittersweet moment, as this was the first graduation since the death of Sister of St. Anne Bernadette Madore, for whom it is named. Sister Bernadette, the college’s president from 1977 to 1993, died Oct. 9, 2011, he said.
He said Ms. Hartley, who majored in music therapy and psychology, was an athlete and resident assistant, and was involved in campus ministry.
Social work major Ashley M. Maryyanek received the Bishop Timothy J. Harrington Award for compassionate service. That included work at a senior center, with a backpack drive for local students and in the Dominican Republic on break.
“Always go above and beyond what is expected of you,” graduate student speaker Erin Mary DeCoste urged.
She told of her own pursuits, from getting a bachelor’s in English literature, to returning to college 20 years later for her master of education, in between owning a flower shop and selling goat milk soap at farmers markets.
The college had announced it would “completely focus the attention” of commencement activities on student accomplishments by inviting only members of the Anna Maria community to participate.
This announcement came in the wake of a controversial decision to uninvite Victoria Kennedy, U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s widow, its original commencement speaker, who was to receive an honorary degree. Bishop McManus had said he would not attend graduation with her as speaker, citing concerns about her positions conflicting with church teachings. Given the controversy that followed, he agreed not to attend graduation anyway.
The commencement program summarized the college’s history and growth, including the reinvigoration of the CORE curriculum with “a renewed commitment to theology, ethics, values and service.”