The 105th Saint Joseph’s College Commencement was held on Saturday, May 12, 2018, at 10 AM at the Sebago Lake campus, 278 Whites Bridge Road in Standish, Maine. The ceremony celebrated the graduation of 581 students from three countries and 39 states, including 213 students hailing from Maine. Graduates of campus programs totaled 192, while students graduating from online programs totaled 389. Conferred degrees included: baccalaureate degrees in arts, fine arts, science, science in business administration, and science in nursing; and master’s degrees in accountancy, arts, business administration, health administration, science in education, and science in nursing.
In his address to the graduates, President Jim Dlugos, Ph.D., said, “Over the course of your time with us the relationships you have developed with one another, with faculty and staff, which are at the heart of Saint Joseph’s College, have nurtured and strengthened that confidence and trust—in yourselves, in one another, and in our ability to come together to improve all those communities of which we are part, including this one.”
Erick Schadler ’18, of Raymond, Maine, delivered the Valedictorian address. A 2014 graduate of Windham High School, Erick earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology. Erick’s address to the Class of 2018 focused on the value of looking a life with a goal of happiness. “From the beginning of our time here at Saint Joseph’s College we have been exposed to the overarching emphasis on community service. Whether we participated in international service trips, took part in Spring Break Workfest, volunteered at Catherine’s Cupboard, did community-based learning, or even helped out in sporting clinics, Saint Joe’s had a sneaky way of incorporating community service into our lives. And that was not by accident…No matter how small of an act, happiness is helping others by doing what you can with what you have,” he said.
April Chase ’18 delivered the Online College Graduates’ Speech. Originally from Hermon, Maine, April is now a resident of Cibolo, Texas, and earned a Master of Science in Nursing degree with an Education specialization. She spoke about the importance of experiencing struggles in order to achieve greatness. “I love that our website says that we are an established community of lifelong learners. Even if you decide not to continue pursuing a formal education after this (although I hope that you do), remember that we are all learning all the time…I might have thought that I knew everything at 18 but at 38 I am well aware that I still have a lifetime of learning to do.”
Sister Sylvia Comer ’62, RSM received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Sister Michele Aronica ’74, RSM introduced Sister Sylvia, explaining how she served the College for 29 years in a variety of ways as a faculty member, program director, founder of campus and pastoral ministry, spiritual director, and friend. “Catherine McAuley wrote, ‘You must be cheerful and happy, animating all around you.’ These are words, Sister Sylvia, that you have clearly taken to heart,” she said. “When you saw a need you did not hesitate to find a way to address it. Sometimes that came through your offering of some of the gifts that Catherine told us the world is in need of—the kind word, the gentle, compassionate look, and the patient hearing of another’s sorrows. Other times the need called for a more complex response, such as when you and others organized the first Spring Break Workfest in 1992. For 27 years students have traveled to other parts of our country to provide assistance to communities and to individuals in need…For so many, Sister Sylvia, you are a visible presence of God’s love in the world.”
Executive Director of Preble Street in Portland, Mark Swann, received an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service. Since 1991, Swann has overseen significant growth and expansion of Preble Street from a small soup kitchen with two employees in the basement of an old church to a multi-site, comprehensive social service agency for homeless and low-income individuals and families. “I got into the line of work I’m in because it’s the right thing to do…As a human being, it’s my responsibility to be there for other human beings—all human beings,” he said. “Kindness is important, compassion is essential, and love is everything. It’s really as pure and simple as all of that.”