Morristown, N.J. (May 14, 2016) – Amid cheers, 378 graduates, including seven doctoral students in educational leadership, received their degrees at the College of Saint Elizabeth's 114th Commencement on Saturday, May 14. Colonel Ingrid A. Parker, garrison commander at Picatinny Arsenal, gave the commencement address in which she challenged the Class of 2016 to make a difference in the world.
College president, Dr. Helen J. Streubert described CSE students in her welcoming remarks.
"Our students, soon to be graduates, have demonstrated their abilities in writing, speaking, critical thinking, problem-solving, in service and scholarship. They have shared their talents with each other, the Saint Elizabeth Community and with the wider region. They have acquired an understanding of their intellectual abilities, as well as their capacity of heart. They have learned to live the core values of integrity, social responsibility, leadership and excellence. That is what a CSE education is all about. In this place, we facilitate learning with a focus on using that knowledge to lead, but we also teach our graduates how to live – to live full and vibrant lives which contribute significantly to the well-being of all of God's people."
"We look forward to following your journey as you leave CSE with the values, faith and commitment that make CSE graduates unique," said Sister Rosemary Moynihan, chair of the board of trustees. "We believe in you and trust in your abilities. Always remember: work hard; hold onto your strong values; be your best selves; always take the high road."
Recently promoted, Colonel Parker was given another promotion of sorts, an honorary doctorate in humane letters, from the College. She gave an inspirational talk, one that chronicled her life as career military, illustrating the power of believing in oneself.
"The greatest benefit I got by joining the Army as a young woman was finding my voice. Finding myself and gaining a lot of personal autonomy. There is a lot of autonomy in the Army, surprisingly. I personally love that mentality. At the end of the day, the only thing in your way – is you," she advised.
"As you leave the College of Saint Elizabeth today, you take with you your education and your place in society, as one of the fortunate people, who were able to attain a college degree," she said. "The first thing is I encourage you to be strong, be audacious, and have a little tenacity. Go into your career fearlessly. Look for people who will help you along the way. You will need a network of support."
"People are used to flowing along, but you guide your own life and career," she continued. "Make your own choices. Be smart with opportunities. Seneca, a Roman stoic philosopher, once said: Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity."
Maame Quainoo, '16, Biology, and Meredith Palmer '16, M.A. Justice Administration and Public Service, were selected from among their peers to deliver the student addresses.
Quainoo, of Dover, N.J., urged her fellow graduates to look to the left and right and always remember the people who walked with them through the ups and downs of college, then instructed graduates to look to the faculty, administrators and to the Lord to remember all the support they received. She them urged them to look at their own hands, to remember to use them in their craft as they move into their respective careers.
Her final piece of advice, "Don't ever be too scared to give your all to the world because the world is definitely in need of a little you."
Palmer, of Budd Lake, N.J., had attended CSE as an undergraduate and returned years later as a graduate student who was also a mother to young children.
"This time, I, like all of you, came to CSE to further my personal goals and mission," she related. "As it was, my mission fell in line with that of the College, to learn in an environment built on excellence, dedication and integrity, as these are the same values that I embrace at home with my children."
Palmer also talked about the advantages of having online courses that "enable graduate and continuing studies students to attend class at 3:00 in the morning between bottle feedings or 6:00 in the evening after a long day at work."
She echoed the words of Col. Palmer in the power of networking. "The College has the resources to assist you in spring boarding your career forward or helping you to re-assess your options," she counseled. "It is never too late to ask the right questions of the right people."
The Awards of Distinction were conferred to those students who went above and beyond in their academic, extracurricular, and student life. Marissa Gioffre, global studies/history, of Morristown, N.J. received the Sister Elizabeth Ann Maloney Award; Marlyne Lamour, sociology, of Maplewood, N.J. received the Sister Jacqueline Burns Award; Sister Florence Akhimien, English and elementary education, of Ibadan, Nigeria, received the Sister Elizabeth Houlihan Memorial Award; and Ashley Pledger, justice studies and psychology, of Randolph, N.J., received the Hildegarde Marie Mahoney Award for General Excellence.
CSE Trustee Winifred M. Johanson, '67, inducted the graduates into the Alumnae/i Association, welcoming them to the thousands of people who call CSE their home.
Congratulations to the Class of 2016!