Springfield College opened its 2021 Commencement Weekend ceremonies with a virtual presentation on Friday, May 14 with Massachusetts Governor Charles D. Baker delivering the commencement address. Following Friday’s opening celebration, the College now prepares to host eight separate in-person ceremonies, four on Saturday, May 15 and four on Sunday, May 16, at Stagg Field on the Springfield College main campus. Video streams and schedules of the ceremonies can all be accessed through the Springfield College Commencement Stream webpage.
“You start today as graduates from a terrific institution, you have a strong foundation in which you can build a productive and positive life,” said Baker, who was sworn in for a second term as the 72nd governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on January 3, 2019. “Your parents are proud of you, and so are your teachers, your friends, and your neighbors. They watched you grow up, and they believe in you. They believe in your humanity, they have watched you battle your way through the last year, and they dream big things for you.”
Baker went on to talk about the importance of optimism, steadiness, and endurance during these unprecedented times, and he provided the Class of 2021 with three key pieces of advice to take with them moving forward into the next chapter of their lives.
“Rule number one, make good choices. Rule number two, don’t be afraid to try new things, and rule three, learn how to put down your phone,” added Baker. “The real world is the here and now, it’s your parents, your family, your teachers, your friends, and your co-workers. The individuals who find a way to be physically, emotionally, and personally present with you whenever they are with you. They want you to be strong, happy, diligent, kind, and empathetic. They hope the lessons they have taught you, and the support they offered will help you be a good person as you get older. They feel this way because they connect with you in the most fundamental way of all, by virtue of your collective humanity. Congratulations to the Class of 2021.”
Baker was introduced by the 13th President of Springfield College, Dr. Mary-Beth A. Cooper, who was joined by Springfield College Chair of the Board of Trustees James H. Ross convening the ceremonies.
“To the Class of 2021 and your families and friends, you made it,” said Cooper. “Even though the circumstances are different this year, the sincerity of my congratulations and the depth of my pride in you are as strong as ever.”
Cooper went on to add, “Under the best of circumstances, earning a college degree is hard. Finishing your college degree and living your senior year through Zoom is more than hard, it takes a herculean effort. We’ve asked a great deal of you over your last three semesters at Springfield College and you responded, just as we knew you would. You not only survived, you thrived.”
The Class of 2021 will always be remembered as a class that persevered through some very trying times, and Cooper described how she answers that all important question, “What makes Springfield College and our students special?”
“It’s a question I love to answer because there is so much to say, in most cases, though, my response centers around our mission, our culture, and our commitment to Humanics,” added Cooper. “Your response to the challenges presented by the pandemic was no different. I didn’t know exactly what it would look like, but I knew for sure that our community would carry us through our COVID-19 response by drawing on and focusing on the very things that make us distinctive - our mission, our culture, and our commitment to Humanics.”
Cooper went on to commend the Class of 2021 in using our Humanics philosophy to not only take on the challenges of the pandemic, but also lead the campus community through the focus of social justice, highlighted by the strong student activism on the campus demonstrated at the March for Action on Alden Street in October.
“To our graduating seniors who emerged as leaders, I thank you for your courage and your commitment to creating a better Springfield College,” said Cooper. “Your impact on our campus will be held as a watershed moment that brought about significant and lasting change. I know this much is true, we made steps this year, but the change is just beginning.”
Springfield College Physical Therapy Professor Salome Brooks started the festivities delivering the invocation, and there was a special video segment highlighting student-leaders from the Class of 2021, as they shared their memories and gratitude towards all those faculty, staff, and fellow students who helped make their college experience a very memorable one.
To conclude the ceremonies, the graduating students were officially welcomed into the Springfield College Alumni Association by the president of the Alumni Council, Anthony L. Sarage ’00.
Over the weekend, Springfield College will award 434 master’s degrees, seven certificates of advanced graduate study, three Doctor of Philosophy degrees, 34 Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees, and 13 Doctor of Psychology degrees. At the undergraduate ceremonies, the College will award 671 bachelor’s degrees. All together, 1162 degrees are being awarded, meaning 1162 new Springfield College alumni will continue to make a difference in their neighborhoods, communities, and the world.