Families and friends of the College of Saint Elizabeth Class of 2012 gathered under a huge tent pitched on the grounds of the campus at the 110th Commencement Exercises, Saturday, May 12, 2012. Nearly 500 graduates – one of the largest graduating classes to date – received their degrees. The College graduated 264 undergraduates from its Women’s College and adult undergraduate programs and 233 graduate students, including 15 who received doctorates in Educational Leadership.
In her welcoming remarks, CSE President Sister Francis Raftery encouraged the graduates to “move forward with great joy. You have the possibility of being such an influential person that the world will be better because you were here. Pledge to make a difference.”
Sister Rosemary Moynihan, general superior of the Sisters of Charity and chair of the CSE board of trustees, also addressed the graduates. “The theologian Meister Eckhart said, ‘If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is thank you, that would suffice.’ This whole day is a prayer. This whole day is a thank you.”
This year's Commencement address was given by Sister Margaret Ann O’Neill, S.C., M.A., Ed.D., the director of Centro Arte para la Paz (Center of Arts for Peace), a regional educational cultural center promoting peace through dance, art, and theological reflection, in Suchitoto, El Salvador.
In her remarks, she told her audience, “You will walk out of here today with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds people with your same degree and there will be thousands doing what you plan to do for a living. But my friends, you will be the only person alive who has the sole custody of your own life … your own entire life. Not just your work life, not just your stock portfolio, your bank account, or the life of your mind. I am talking about the life of your heart, the life of your soul. I am talking about your deepest center… You have to listen to what is inside yourself and discover your own fire … and not only do you need your own fire, but so does the whole world.”
She continued, “…Don’t amputate your creativity, your ambitions, your possibilities. You must risk … so peek around corners. Travel and stare at other cultures, other kinds of scarcities. Go to those places where there are palpable longings for justice and peace.”
Sr. Peggy, a Sister of Charity of Saint Elizabeth since 1956, has been living in El Salvador for the past 25 years, during which time she was an active member of the Pastoral Team, Santa Lucia Parish Suchitoto. She works toward building a culture of peace using the arts as a vehicle. A highly respected long-time peacemaker, Sr. Peggy has received many honors and awards including the 2008 Peacemaker Award of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, recognizing her many years of peace efforts in El Salvador and honoring her “contribution to peace making and work for justice.” Also, in 2008 she received the Ciudadana Ilustre Award, for her work on behalf of social and cultural development in Suchitoto.
Sister Peggy earned a Master of Arts Degree in Theology from Marquette University and an Ed.D. in Religious Education from New York University. A life-long educator her entire professional career in both the USA and El Salvador, Sr. Peggy served as assistant professor of Augsburg College, Center for Global Education, and at Santa Clara University, Casa de Solidaridad, in the Jesuit University, El Salvador. For many years she also served as associate professor of Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y.
In recognition of her remarkable humanitarian work and vision in promoting a culture of peace through the arts in a country that has been torn by war, poverty and violence, the College of Saint Elizabeth awarded Sr. Margaret Ann O’Neill the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.
The College awarded Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, to Maud Peper Dahme, a Holocaust survivor and the subject of a documentary film, The Hidden Child. She is the past president of the New Jersey State Board of Education, where she served from 1983 to 2007. She is a highly respected leader in the field of education who has dedicated her life to the Holocaust and genocide education. As a member of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education since 1982, Dahme uses her own life story to ensure that the Holocaust never be forgotten by teaching students to accept their differences.
In April 2011, during a special education program co-sponsored by the College of Saint Elizabeth Holocaust Education Resource Center, Dahme shared her own story of courage, bravery, and hope with a special screening of the NJN-produced film of a one-hour documentary, The Hidden Child. The film tells the story of six-year old Dahme who, along with her sister, was separated from their parents and spent the entire German occupation of their native country, The Netherlands, in hiding. In 2007, the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education founded the Maud Dahme Award. This award is presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated the moral courage and sense of humanity as an “up stander” in defending others.
In addition to her Holocaust work, Dahme is a champion for children of migrant workers and served as a member of the Interstate Migrant Educational Council, which she chaired in 1998 and 2007.
For her work in advancing human and civil rights, she received the Martin Luther King Human Rights Award in 2001 from the New Jersey Education Association. Dahme also received the H. Council Trenholm Award from the National Education Association and many other rewards. In recognition of her extraordinary leadership in education, the College of Saint Elizabeth awarded Maud Dahme the degree of Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa.
Student Speakers Address Their Peers
LaTisha Prophete of Orange, N.J., was the CSE Women’s College student Commencement speaker. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Justice Studies and Philosophy. During her years at CSE, she served in the Student Government Association as recording secretary and as vice president of Women United in Color. She was treasurer of the National Criminal Justice Honor Society, Alpha Phi Sigma Lambda Pi, and served as CSE Student Ambassador since 2009 and as an Equal Opportunity Fund Peer Leader/Tutor. She is a recipient of the CSE Presidential Scholarship and member of the Honor Program at CSE for four years. Upon graduation, Prophete will pursue a para legal position with a law firm while applying to law schools.
In her remarks entitled Still Standing, she told her classmates, “We have established a bond that does not only hold us together as graduates and faculty of the College of Saint Elizabeth, but also as a sisterhood of “Superwomen” on a quest to achieve a common goal. We sit amongst each other as empowered leaders, dedicated brothers and sisters, persistent parents, and many other titles. But most importantly, we sit amongst each other as graduating seniors, the next group of women to leave our legacies here and do as our fore-sisters and fore-mothers have done: pick up our sacks, advance toward our dreams and take our rightful seats at the table of the world.”
Adult undergraduate and graduate students were represented by CSE student speaker, Monina A. Franco-Tantuico, of Union, N.J., who received her Master of Science in Nursing Education. A native of the Philippines, Franco-Tantuico obtained a bachelor of science in medical technology from College of the Holy Spirit in Manila and graduated magna cum laude from New York University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Currently, she is the assistant faculty advisor to the Student Nurse Association and the coordinator of Learning/Simulation Center at Trinitas School of Nursing, where she coordinates and oversees the daily operation of the center. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning, and Who’s Who Among Colleges and Universities.
In her speech, Fulfilling the CSE Mission!, she said to her fellow students, “Now as we finish our journey of studying, let us start a new journey committed to helping those in need, and to be leaders and role-models who exemplify the CSE mission and its values of faith, courage, caring, justice, and respect. I strongly believe that simple acts of kindness, understanding, and caring can be a rippling effect that can promote global peace and happiness. Let us all continue our passion for life-long learning and become good role-models to everyone we meet and touch especially the young and all of our loved ones.”
Commencement Capped A Week of Events
The CSE Commencement ceremony concluded a series of events including the Baccalaureate Mass, which took place the night before and incorporated the hooding of undergraduates and graduate students. A separate hooding ceremony took place May 8 for the doctoral graduates. The hood signifies rank and academic area of expertise.
Students who wish to purchase photos taken during commencement ceremonies on May 12 should contact: American Candids at www.americancandids.com, for individual student photos with diploma on stage; and Kathy Cacicedo at www.kcphotographer.ifp3.com, for casual/candid shots of students and families.
A recap of Commencement 2012, including speeches and photos, as well as information about related events, is available for viewing at www.cse.edu/commencement.