NEWBURGH – Over 500 Mount Saint Mary College graduates received their degrees during the 59th commencement ceremony at the Newburgh campus on Saturday.
Of the graduates, the college awarded 122 master’s degrees and more than 380 bachelor’s degrees. The graduating students hailed from 11 states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. One graduate lives in Nigeria and completed her studies online: Sr. Maria Judith Okwudiri Orokoafor of the Order of Franciscan Handmaids of the Most Pure Heart of Mary.
Vice President for Academic Affairs George Abaunza served as master of ceremonies. The event was presided over by Michael Horodyski, chairman of the school’s board of trustees.
College President Dr. Jason Adsit told the graduates that the philosopher Matshona Dhliwayo once said that beautiful souls are shaped by ugly experiences. By that measurement, he said, “My friends, you have some unbelievably beautiful souls and you will continue to carry that forward into the world.”
The graduating students heard from honorary degree recipient and commencement speaker Karina Cabrera Bell ’01, a Fortune 500 executive and former official in the Obama White House.
Cabrera Bell currently serves as senior manager within the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equality Practice at Accenture, a multinational professional services company that specializes in information technology services and consulting.
Before moving to the private sector, Cabrera Bell served in many levels of government in her 15-year career in public service. At the Obama White House, she was director of Congressional Affairs.
Cabrera Bell praised the graduates for their ability to overcome unforeseen obstacles while remaining upbeat and focused on their studies: “This generation of Knights has gone through something that no other classes have before,” she said. “Yet, through it all, you have shown incredible resilience and strength.”
“Even though we have not had the most conventional college experience, thanks to our wonderful professors and administrators who care so deeply about their students, there is not a doubt in my mind that we are prepared to handle anything that gets thrown at us along the way,” said Julia Lavin of Ledyard, Connecticut, senior class president. “We are all leaving more resilient and capable people than when we arrived here.”
n his speech to his fellow graduates, Cullen Roper of Newburgh, vice president of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, reminded students of the need for unity.
“We are all living proof that alone we can accomplish many things, but with the help of others, we can accomplish anything,” he said. “To be a college graduate is one success in its own, but to become a welcoming and caring human being will propel us into the next chapter of our lives. I am proud to be here in front of you all today and proud to be a Mount Saint Mary College graduate.”