Springfield College held its Baccalaureate ceremony on the afternoon of Saturday, May 16, on Naismith Green on the main campus. Baccalaureate is an annual Springfield College tradition held on the day before the undergraduate commencement to honor the graduating senior class. It is a student-led ceremony designed to celebrate the spirit, mind, and body. Hundreds of graduates and their families attended this very memorable part of the Commencement weekend activities.
Delivering the Baccalaureate address was Springfield College Mathematics, Computer Science, and Physics Department Chair and Professor Peter J. Polito, who is retiring this month after more than 40 years of service to the College. “President Cooper, members of the platform, my faculty colleagues, Springfield College staff employees, proud parents, family, friends and, above all, students, the Class of 2015, I am humbled and honored to deliver the Baccalaureate Address to the Class of 2015,” said Polito, who was introduced by Student Government Association President Sarah Higgins.
During Polito’s tenure at the College, he has been instrumental, along with the leaders of the New Student Orientation program, in reviving and expanding an event dating back to 1918 that the College now celebrates as Humanics in Action Day, a day of service to the local community. Polito went on to describe the impact this event has on both the College and Springfield communities.
“The Class of 2015, here at Springfield College, we celebrate Humanics in Action Day, but we also remember and believe that Humanics is alive to continue learning, to have compassion, to care, and to serve every day of our lives,” said Polito. “We must remember and believe that we all can work together to apply our strengths from unity in diversity and to remove the barriers between human capacity and human need.”
Polito went on to include his seven principles of Humanics including: respect for the self, in one's self and others, and the nurturing care for the uniqueness of every human being; responsibility to take charge of one's own life; reverence for life; service to humanity; community and unity in diversity; education of the freed mind; and altruistic professionalism.
“So you, the Class of 2015, remember and believe that you are change agents, carry a burden and a responsibility that will touch other people's lives through your altruistic professionalism no matter what profession in which you have succeeded,” said Polito. “You can believe to make a difference by remembering your unique status and your responsibilities. You can make a difference by the way you live, by the way you acknowledge and act out your civic rights. There must be a belief that there is a place where people are not only tolerant but also understanding and respectful of different points of view and different perspectives of life and living. It is your time, and our time, to reaffirm our commitment to building a better world.”
The Baccalaureate ceremony began with the invocation, delivered by Springfield College psychology major Ricardo Vieux, followed by School of Human Services student Nicole Drakes leading the greeting and first reading titled, “The Journey” by Mary Oliver.
Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper delivered her presidential remarks to the Class of 2015 before introducing women’s cross country student-athlete and physical therapy major Elizabeth Tomanio, who delivered the second reading, “The New Song” by W.S. Merwin.
Occupational therapy major Ashley Kloss and Springfield College graduate Aaron Vincent performed Gavin DeGraw’s song, “You Got Me” with Kloss on vocals and Vincent on guitar.
Members of the 2015 class board shared “A Reflection by the Class of 2015,” followed by Pride Dance Team members Brittany Anderson and Bethany Clark performing “A Reflection in Dance.”
Kelsi Lynde, 2015 Springfield College PRIDE Awards Mind Award recipient, led those assembled in the unison prayer, followed by the senior singers performing “Send Me On My Way.”
At the conclusion of the event, 2015 Springfield College PRIDE Awards Spirit Award recipient Jason Mascoe delivered the benediction.
Founded in 1885, Springfield College is known worldwide for the guiding principles of its humanics philosophy—educating students in spirit, mind and body for leadership in service to others. With its foundation of academic excellence and rich athletic heritage, Springfield College prepares students with real-world leadership skills for careers that transform lives and communities. The college offers a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the fields of health sciences, human and social services, sport management and movement studies, education, business, and the arts and sciences. It also offers doctoral programs in physical education, physical therapy, and counseling psychology. The college is ranked in the 2015 edition of “Best Colleges” in the top tier of “Best Regional Universities – North Region” by U.S.News and World Report, and is designated as a premier Leadership Development Center by the YMCA of the USA. More than 5,000 traditional, nontraditional and international students study at its main campus in Springfield, Mass., and at its School of Human Services campuses across the country.