Springfield College hosted its 2015 graduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16, on Naismith Green, on the College’s main campus. Ann Hope, public health specialist in the areas of alcohol and tobacco in Ireland, delivered the commencement address to graduating students.
“It is a great honor to be invited to give the 2015 Graduate Commencement address,” said Hope. “I came to Springfield in September 1984, following in the footsteps of ‘a stream’ of Irish students before me.”
Hope, who earned a Master of Science in physical education teaching and administration in 1985 and a Doctor of Physical Education in 1988 from Springfield College, talked about how the College prepared her for a successful professional career.
“My time as a graduate student in Springfield was the most enriching and rewarding in my own personal journey of self-development,” said Hope. “Springfield College, first and foremost, provided a ‘nurturing environment’ to grow and develop. It provided the academic rigor in my chosen areas of study-physical education, health fitness, wellness, and research.”
Hope went on to add, “However, the most important Humanics ingredient was a sense of community in caring, respecting, and helping others. Even the small things, I was so struck by everyone saying ‘Hi’ with a smile. At first I thought, do I know them? That inclusiveness applied to all.”
Coming to Springfield College as an international student, Hope shared how important the Springfield College Doggett International Center is to international students on campus, a center that is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
“I cannot imagine a better college in America to be an international student than here at Springfield College,” said Hope. “The warmth of welcome from the entire college community made the international student experience memorable for us.”
“The special ethos of Springfield College has attracted students from around the world. Today graduates, once you leave Springfield, you will also become ambassadors for the College,” added Hope.
During her speech, Hope went on to highlight her 20-year odyssey as a national alcohol policy advisor to the Department of Health in a leadership capacity. Hope explained the challenges and set-backs along the way, but highlighted progress was always made.
“In my work in public health, I recognized early on some of the key ingredients for successful leadership,” said Hope. “These include working with others and understanding the differing perspectives around social and policy issues. From my experience, you need to be an active listener. It is also important to build alliances across a broad-base of governmental, civic society, and community groups.”
Hope concluded with a look into the future, and described the many challenges that the graduating students will face in the next 50 years, including climate change, regional conflicts, and health, food and water security.
“We are at the end of a ‘long hot summer’ of growth in the last century, where America was seen as a world leader,” added Hope. “The future is more complex. The way forward for your generation is less certain. In such a climate, values become your guiding star.I believe that your grounding in the Humanics philosophy at Springfield College, the balanced individual in spirit, mind, body, will equip you well in the years ahead. It can prepare you to provide leadership in service to others. Whether you are a teacher, social worker, therapist, or in business, each one of you will have opportunities in your life to make a difference. It’s your choice.”
Prior to Hope’s commencement address, Springfield College presented an honorary Doctor of Humanics degree to Hope. The College has, historically, awarded honorary degrees to a few outstanding individuals who, by their character and accomplishments, personify the College’s guiding philosophy, Humanics. The philosophy emphasizes the dedication of spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others.
Convening the ceremony was Springfield College Board of Trustees chair, Doug Coupe, who introduced the 13th president of Springfield College, Mary-Beth Cooper.
“Today is significant in numerous ways,” said Cooper. “Today, you will leave here graduates of Springfield College, fortified by skill and knowledge and hope for the future, yours and society’s. You have been privileged to experience a Springfield College education, a special type of education that is based on the Humanics philosophy. You have educated your whole person. But, more importantly, you have done so while caring and committing to the people you share this planet with.”
Cooper added, “This is the true hallmark, and the responsibility of a Springfield College education: the acquisition of knowledge that is used for the good of our whole society.”
The student speaker was Springfield College School of Human Services student Adrine Maresco, who received a Master of Science.
“As we celebrate a great milestone today, I would like to take the opportunity, on behalf of my fellow graduates, to thank those who have served, guided, and supported us through our journey and made this celebration possible,” said Maresco. “First and foremost, thank you to our families, especially our parents, who have made tremendous sacrifices to allow us to pursue our dreams. Although mine are no longer on this earth, I know they are very proud of my accomplishments.”
“Thank you to our professors who challenged us to grow intellectually, with their questions which appeared to be so simple yet so challenging; with their assignments which we thought could be answered in one sentence, maybe one paragraph, yet often required a minimum of eight pages; and by taking the time to answer our questions or question our answers until we master or are able to critically evaluate the new knowledge,” added Maresco. “And, thank you to those who worked behind the scene to make the process appear easier than it really is (support staff, maintenance, food service, and security, to name a few). We should also be very proud of our achievement; it required determination, patience, and sacrifices. Completing this degree was not an easy task; we have survived many sleepless nights, long nights, early mornings, doubts, lots of frustrations, and temptations to quit. And, if you are like me, you probably left everything and everyone you know behind to pursue your dream in a different country, state, or town. Yet here we are in the light at the end of the tunnel.”
At the graduate commencement, 621 master’s degrees, nine certificates of advanced graduate study, 16 doctor of philosophy degrees, and 27 doctoral of physical therapy degrees were awarded. At the undergraduate commencement on Sunday at the MassMutual Center starting at 9:30 a.m., 937 bachelor’s degrees will be awarded for a two-day total of 1646 degrees.
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.