By: Judith Kelliher
Springfield College hosted its 2023 graduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 13, in the Wellness and Recreation Complex Field House located on the main campus. This year, the honor of the keynote commencement address went to Kuda Biza, an entrepreneur, philanthropist, author, and speaker.
Biza moved to the United States from Zimbabwe to study at Lynn University. He arrived at Miami International Airport with $40 in his pocket, a suitcase, and his dream. Today, he is the co-founder and chief marketing officer of Nunbelievable, a mission-based baked goods company. His company demonstrates his philanthropic spirit as it donates a meal for every cookie sold. Nunbelievable was launched just before the pandemic, and to date, the company has donated nearly two million meals to people in need.
As he addressed the Springfield College students and their families, faculty, and staff, Biza shared a story of when he was in second grade in 1992 in Zimbabwe. He told his class during their picture day that he wanted to leave Zimbabwe for the United States, become a successful entrepreneur, and give back to society.
"At that time, Zimbabwe was going through a severe drought that left millions of people without any food. If it wasn't for the donations from nonprofit organizations millions of people could have died, myself included," Biza said. "That day, class picture day in 1992, became the day I realized my life's purpose. My why."
Biza told Springfield College students as they embark on a new chapter in their life to ask themselves a question: "What is my life dream?"
"The one that makes your heart race and your palms sweat? The one that scares you, but also excites you beyond measure? I would like to challenge you to go chase that dream with PRIDE (Personal Responsibility In Deploying Excellence)," Biza said. "So, as you leave Springfield College today and get deployed into the real world, take with you all the amazing knowledge and wisdom that has been poured into you during your time here and deploy it into the world. Take with you the Humanics ethos-nurturing the spirit, mind, and body-and use that as your secret weapon in your pursuit of your life's dream."
Convening the ceremony was Mary Ann Coughlin, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, who introduced the 13th president of Springfield College, Mary-Beth A. Cooper, PhD, DM.
"Today, the Class of 2023 graduates from Springfield College, an achievement that takes on more significance when you consider the numerous trials and staggering challenges of the last four years," Cooper said. "The adaptability and resilience necessary to succeed amid a global pandemic, political unrest, and economic uncertainty are now foundational skills to assist you in meeting the challenges you will inevitably face in the weeks, months, and years to come. Today, you graduate with the knowledge and habits of mind that carry hope for the future-yours and society's."
Each year, a graduate student is selected by their peers to address the graduating class. This year, Springfield College student Rockeisha Jarrett addressed attendees.
"When I came here, I came with the baggage of discouragement and self-doubt. Upon arrival, I was met with acceptance. I took a leap of faith, and you-all of you-my professors and my "village," you caught me as I leapt," Jarrett said. "There are as many Springfield College stories as there are graduates sitting here today. If your experience has been anything like mine, then leaving your comfort zones is a cause for celebration. The opportunities and experience of attending Springfield College have encouraged us to grow, as much and in as many ways as possible."
At the graduate commencement, 518 degrees were awarded. At the undergraduate commencement on Sunday, May 14 at the MassMutual Center starting at 9:30 a.m., 598 bachelor's degrees will be awarded. Including the degrees awarded on at the graduate ceremony, a total of 1,116 degrees will be awarded over the two days.