Graduation 2013: Anselmian community gathers for commencement celebration

Gabriella Servello, News Editor

The graduation ceremony for the Saint Anselm College Class of 2013 was held on Saturday, May 18 on the main quad in front of Alumni Hall. Families and friends of the 426 graduates gathered to celebrate this momentous occasion which marked the 120th commencement at the college.

Per tradition, the graduation began with a blessing followed by the National Anthem, sung by senior choir member Nathaniel Chartier.

Senior Christopher Tinsley of Massachusetts was chosen to deliver the student speech to his fellow classmates of four years. Throughout his speech, Tinsley focused on the unique experience the Anselmians had at this institution.

Several years ago these Anselmians were juniors in high school, searching for colleges and comparing them to each other. While statistics have some importance, Tinsley recognized that they are not everything.

“However, it is important not to be so dazzled by statistical data so as to miss the bigger picture,” said Tinsley.

For Tinsley, Saint A’s did much more than teach the students and provide them with an education. More importantly, the curriculum, the professors, and the entire Anselmian community emphasized the individual. According to Tinsley, from the humanities program that shared the success stories of significant individuals throughout history to the philosophy courses that taught students to think on a critical level, the college focused on each student’s individual development in all aspects.

“Statistical data cannot describe the value of an education centered on the human person, an education that helps us answer the more fundamental questions concerning the purpose of human existence. The fact that you’re here today testifies that you’ve lived and experienced the bigger picture,” stated Tinsley.

While speaking about the Anselmian experience Tinsley remembered the late George Gendron and Jeanne Kenison, both of whom were important members of and contributors to the college community.

Before concluding, Tinsley noted the retirement of Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B., President of the College, after twenty-four years of service.

Tinsley concluded by addressing his classmates with these final words: “And to the Class of 2013, let’s prove that Father Jonathan saved his best for last!”

Following Tinsley’s speech, Professor Ossoff, Chair of the Psychology Department, presented the American Association of University Professors faculty award to Dr. Paul Finn. Finn is the former Chair of the Psychology Department and current Coach of Men and Women’s Cross Country and Track Teams.

Ossoff recognized Finn’s dedication to the students’ development in all areas, saying, “The focus for this faculty member has always been on educating the mind, the body, and the spirit.”

Ossoff described Finn as a challenging professor, but one who is always available to help his students both in and out of the classroom. Ossoff also emphasized Finn’s efforts following the Boston Marathon bombings, as he brought all 42 Anselmians safely back to the college.

Before Father Jonathan DeFelice spoke, 23 individuals came forward carrying their graduation year banners – one representative for each of the classes that graduated under Father Jonathan’s leadership. Among this group was Michele Pesula Kuegler ’92, current CEO and Editor-in-Chief of PeKu Publications, an online publication that provides its readers with original material over its 23 sites.

“I was honored to represent the class of ’92 at graduation. To return to the school that provided me with a strong foundation and pay tribute to Father Jonathan was a privilege for me,” writes Kuegler to the Crier.

Commenting on Father Jonathan’s reaction Kuegler writes, “A touching moment during the processional was watching Father Jonathan’s reaction to our surprise arrival in the processional. As he saw the signs that announced our years of graduation, tears came to his eyes. He truly seemed surprised that his previous classes had been invited to return.”

Father Jonathan’s speech touched on many aspects of the students’ experiences at Saint A’s. He began by recognizing the impact that families, friends, faculty, and staff had on the Class of 2013.

“Members of the Class of 2013, please stand up, turn around, and applaud with me your families and friends,” said Father Jonathan.

Father Jonathan reminded his audience that it was only four short years ago that they gathered on this very quad when he proclaimed their graduation date of May 18, 2013. He hopes that throughout this time they have come to understand the meaning of being an Anselmian, and that they continue to live their lives in this manner.

“If you continue to hear those voices, if you continue to learn, if you continue to stand in awe at God, the world and the people around you, then you will forge the bond that makes this Anselmian Community a reality. It is a bond that you will discover – as so many others have already – it is a bond that neither time nor distance can sever,” explained Father Jonathan.

Father Jonathan told the Class of 2013 that with this commencement ceremony, they have become alumni and part of the history of the college.

“Now you are about to take your place in that history of Saint Anselm graduates: men and women who walked this ground before you, who studied and prayed, and succeeded as you have… Be ever grateful for all that has been and move on with confidence to form your future with the great gifts you have been given,” encouraged Father Jonathan.

Father Jonathan concluded by praying for the Class of 2013 and wishing them well in their future endeavors.

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh delivered the commencement address to the Class of 2013. Since he was the final speaker before the students received their diplomas, Freeh wanted to take the time to provide them with some final “thoughts.”

Much like Father Jonathan who spoke before him, Freeh recognized the parents’ roles in the success of these students.

“Sociologists have told us that most of the important values that children learn, they learn from their parents between 2 and 3 ½ years old,” explained Freeh.

Freeh referenced the Constitution to encourage the soon-to-be graduates to pursue happiness in their future. Such pursuit of happiness, according to Freeh, can be found in any career path that they may choose.

“You can be anything and everything that you want to be and can be – your potential is enormous. The potential is sitting here in front of us, about to get these degrees, is enormous,” said Freeh.

In order to help guide then in their pursuit of happiness, Freeh laid out five “principles.”

  1. “You’ve got to give back.” Freeh stressed the importance of returning the gifts we have. Without such reciprocity, there would be no progression in life.
  2.  “You’ve got to keep your word” To illustrate the importance of keeping one’s word, Freeh provided a brief anecdote of General Grant’s promise to General Lee.
  3. “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.” Freeh recognized that all human beings make mistakes, and that we must treat our failures in life as learning opportunities.
  4. “Don’t be afraid to say no.” Freeh urged students to remain loyal to their values, quoting Thomas Jefferson: “In manners of style swim with the current. But in manners of integrity and principle, set like a rock.”
  5. “Don’t be afraid to help others.” Freeh believed that many people are hesitant to do so in fear that it will set them back. On the contrary, Freeh said that helping others often goes a long way.

Freeh concluded by congratulating the graduates, and telling them that this was a special day for them and all of those who were involved in their lives.

Among the 426 Anselmians that graduated were former Crier staff editors: Editor-in-Chief Sally Persons, News Editor Katrina Fahy, Culture Editor Mike Lalime, and Opinion Editor Matthew Hurd. Both Persons and Fahy spoke with the Crier, and are grateful for the life lessons and people they met along the way.

“Graduating from college feels a lot more like an accomplishment for me. I tried to take advantage of every opportunity St. Anselm offered, and met amazing people who are now permanent fixtures in my life. A special note to Father Jerome from my last Crier article: you have taught me a lot more than patience, you have taught me how to have fun with work and I will always be grateful to you for that,” says Persons.

“My four years at Saint Anselm College have undoubtedly changed me in every way. Of course, St. A’s gave me a wonderful education, but I also learned so much more. My classes taught me the value of hard work, and how important it is to stay on top of all assignments in order to succeed. My professors not only taught me course material, but also to be passionate about what you love. And the friends I made along the way taught me to laugh through everything, from successes to embarrassing mistakes. This made the end of the semester and graduation very bittersweet,” reflects Fahy.

“While proud of the diploma I received on May 18 and excited to see where life will take me next, I am so thankful for all of the experiences and opportunities I had at St. A’s, and I will miss it dearly,” adds Fahy.