School graduations can evoke a mix of emotions from ceremony participants to event watchers. Joy, excitement, sadness, reminders of any kind of challenge on the road to graduation, regret, worry about what’s to come next — all sentiments can filter into the day or evening. For high school, college, even for those graduating from younger grades, graduations can be a bittersweet time of year.
In her address to her Curry College classmates on May 19, Class Orator Krysteen Vieira Ribeiro captured these sentiments nicely. Looking out over the sea of attendees at its Commencement 2019 held in the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Ribeiro noted the quick passage of time over four years.
“Do not mourn over the missed chances but celebrate what you have done,” she said.
College graduations in particular are referred to as commencements, a time to celebrate an ending and a beginning. Ribeiro gave her classmates the go-ahead to move on in their lives by allowing themselves to be self-forgiving of any regrets. Don’t look back, look ahead.
After being welcomed by Curry President Kenneth K. Quigley Jr., commencement speaker John F. Fish continued well on that theme. Curry conferred upon Fish an honorary doctorate in business administration. CEO of Suffolk construction and chairman and founder of Scholar Athletes, Fish’s address to the Class of 2019, is notable for its spot on advice:
“You’re probably thinking, this is where Fish tells us to change the world today. I get it, it’s a tall order. And I would not put that pressure on you. What I would tell you – and maybe it's less idealistic, but no less important. My advice to you graduates is simple. And, it’s a four-letter word you’ll never forget – no, not that one. Here it is: Love. That’s it. Love.”
He continued, encouraging graduates to do something that people everyday — in Mansfield, Milton and beyond — can do. His advice spans the ages.
“Be vulnerable, take risks, and believe in someone. Defend an underdog. Take a chance with someone because you see them for who they really are. And by all means, don’t feel pressure to change the world. Instead, change one person’s life. Love is what makes us human. Love is contagious. Love keeps us alive.”
Congratulations to all graduates and soon-to-be graduates. For everyone’s sake, especially those who are waiting to hear their loved one’s name called aloud on the stage, please, please, lower the volume of hoops and hollers and yes, a little less cow bell. Not every family is as boisterous as another and the families of all graduates deserve the opportunity to hear their graduate’s name called as well.
– Lisa D. Connell