On Saturday, May 9, Saint Joseph’s College held its 102nd Commencement, from its Standish campus on the shore of Sebago Lake. This year, the College recognized the accomplishments of 561 graduates: 200 from its campus programs and 361 from its online programs.

Special guests included Bishop Robert P. Deeley, the 12th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, and three honorary degree recipients: Mary Dempsey (Doctor of Public Service), Elizabeth McLellan (Doctor of Public Service), and Sister Mary Sullivan (Doctor of Humane Letters). McLellan was the Commencement speaker.

Student speakers included Caitlin Phillips, the class valedictorian, and Deacon Greg Ollick, the online student representative.

President Jim Dlugos opened the ceremony by focusing on the College’s history and its faith in its students. “Confidence and trust remain at the center of the Saint Joseph’s College experience. …Over the course of your time with us, the relationships you have developed with each other, and with faculty and staff members, have nurtured and strengthened that confidence and trust, in yourselves, in each other, and in our ability to come together to improve the quality of all of those communities of which we are a part—including this one.”

Honorary degree recipient and Commencement speaker Elizabeth McLellan, president and founder of Partners for World Health, echoed the president’s comment about improving communities. “During my career, I have worked in intensive care units and emergency rooms, I have traveled throughout the world in leadership positions in nursing,” she said. “I was living my dream. But somewhere along the road I think I lost my way, I forgot, or maybe I didn’t really even know exactly what it really takes to heal someone who is sick.”

She continued: “It is not the best technology or the greatest surgical skill or the incredible drugs that really heal someone. Yes, we need those things for sure. But when the patient is scared and in pain in the middle of the night and wonders what his future will hold with his new diagnosis, all the medicine and greatest technology in the world cannot provide answers…. The answer is compassion. Caring and nurturing pave the road for a patient to move from illness to health.

“I ask that as you move on with your lives, that you carry compassion with you as you go. Find something in your careers that you truly believe in. Trust me: You may be working very hard, but it doesn’t feel like work when you believe in what you’re doing.”

McLellan ended by saying, “Believe in yourselves. You can and you will make a difference. Remember to just keep on walking forward down that road, and never look back.”

The class valedictorian, Caitlin Phillips of Gardiner, Maine, gave a reflective address to her fellow classmates: “These past four years have shaped us into the people we were meant to be, so I encourage you to consider this advice: don’t forget what makes you happy, travel the world, and never settle for anything less than you deserve. We owe it not only to ourselves, but to those people who have helped us get to where we are to take full advantage of the education we have received, as we continue to learn, prosper, and grow.”

Deacon Greg Ollick of Atlanta, Georgia, the online student representative, encouraged his classmates to find their calling in life. “Everyone born into this world is given a vocation. You and I have been called. For some, it’s clear from the beginning. For others, there’s a search. But if you are open to it and continue to seek it, you will find it…. It is also in the heart, for what we believe in the heart is what we do and who we are. So follow your heart.”

Ollick followed up this thought with a spiritual message: “Whether you know God as Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; or Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity; or Allah, whose message was delivered by the Prophet Muhammad; and even if you don’t know God at all: He knows you…. Wherever you are in life, God has you and your vocation in mind.”

More information about this year’s speakers can be found here: http://bit.ly/1QwkD08.

For courtesy photos, visit this Dropbox page: http://bit.ly/1PxfWRc.