Overcast skies could not dampen the spirits of the 438 new graduates of the College of Saint Elizabeth. The Class of 2011, along with their families and friends, filled the tent, pitched on the grounds of the College of Saint Elizabeth for its 109th Commencement, May 14, 2011. The College, which is located at 2 Convent Road, Morristown, N.J., graduated 235 undergraduates from its Women’s College and Adult Undergraduate programs and 203 graduate students, including 14 who received doctorates in Educational Leadership.

The 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 10 for the doctoral graduates. The hood signifies rank and academic area of expertise. For more information about the Commencement, including to learn more about related events and to view the photo album, click www.cse.edu/commencement.

At the Commencement, CSE president Sister Francis Raftery, in her welcoming remarks, quoted poet Mary Oliver, “ ‘What will you do with your one, wild, and precious life?’ ”

Sign Up for E-News

She then continued to tell the graduates, “No one does it alone. I didn’t do it alone, and you didn’t either. Take a moment to say thank you to the faculty, to the administrators, and to your parents. Sometimes we don’t take the time to thank the people who love us the most.”

Looking out over the audience, she concluded, “Let the march of miracles begin.”

This Year, CSE Conferred Two Honorary Doctoral Degrees

Stephen J. Sweeny, Ph.D., president of The College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, N.Y., received the Doctor of Humane Letters Degree, Honoris Causa, for his extraordinary vision and leadership in Higher Education nationally and internationally. Dr. Sweeny also delivered the commencement address.

The Doctor of Humane Letters Degree, Honoris Causa, was bestowed upon Sister Maureen Shaughnessy, S.C., the general superior of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, in recognition of her extraordinary dedication and vision as educator and servant leader to the call of the Gospel.

Dr. Sweeny holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish literature from The Catholic University of America, Master of Arts degrees in theology and counseling psychology from Manhattan College, a Ph.D. in higher education from New York University, and is president of The College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Prior to being inaugurated as the 12th president of The College of New Rochelle in 1997, Dr. Sweeny served for 16 years as senior vice president for academic affairs. Dr. Sweeny served three terms on the Board of Trustees of the College of Saint Elizabeth, and was chair to both of its Academic Affairs Committee and Student Services Committee.

Sister Maureen Shaughnessy, S.C., a 1965 graduate of College of Saint Elizabeth with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin and a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from LaSalle University, is the present General Superior of the Sisters of Charity.

Prior to this, she served for 15 years on the diocesan staff in Paterson, as Director of Adult Religious Education, Director of the Office of Evangelization-Catechesis, and Secretary of Evangelization-Education. She also served for eight years as General Secretary and General Councilor for the Sisters of Charity before moving to Washington, D.C. in 1996, where she was Assistant Secretary for Catechesis and Leadership Formation at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Sr. Maureen currently chairs the Board of Trustees of the College of Saint Elizabeth.

Diane Da Silva of Newark received the Sister Hildegarde Marie Mahoney Award for General Excellence. It is given each year to a student in high academic standing who has demonstrated campus and civic leadership.

Da Silva, who received a Bachelor of Arts in Justice Studies, served as president of the Student Government Association.

Dr. Sweeny Urges Graduates to “Sit at the Table of the World”

Dr. Sweeny began his Commencement Address, saying, “Today you are welcomed, class of 2011, into the long procession of scholars who have pursued truth and passed it on to others.”

He then continued, saying, “In this sacred space – the years of our CSE education – and in this hallowed territory – we came face-to-face with a set of non-negotiable values, which it is hoped are contagious. We are expected to pass them along. The very mission statement and enumeration of core values of the College of Saint Elizabeth make them unmistakable. These values flow from the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings – all created in God’s image: the value of community and a caring personal environment; of scholarship and critical inquiry to move the world forward, of just and ethical relationships; of promotion of women to insure equality in all of the world’s affairs; leadership as service a with social responsibility; a teaching and learning environment, which draws on the gifts and talents of all. Put before us has been the imperatives of solidarity with the poor, service to the community, special responsibility to those who have no voice. The CSE education urges us to sit at the table of the world with spirits that promote justice, understanding, dialogue and respect.”

Student Speakers Address Their Classmates

Elizabeth Stanley, who received her master’s in counseling psychology, represented the graduate and adult students in her speech, Rejoice and Dream. She told them, “The College of Saint Elizabeth has taught me that no dream is too big or out of reach because with hard work, drive and determination, all of our dreams are attainable. The College has helped make my dreams a reality. The college has never strayed from its mission and core values, which include the advancement of women, a social responsibility to help the less fortunate, and quality teaching. Graduates, please allow the College of Saint Elizabeth’s mission and core values to be a template by which you live the rest of your lives.”

In her speech entitled The Load We Carry, Women’s College speaker, Samantha Saint-Germain, quoted a Haitian proverb, “An empty sack can’t stand up.”

She explained, “Essentially, what this Haitian proverb and the College’s mission are telling us, the future leaders of tomorrow, is that everyone has a sack to carry; and no matter how heavy, its contents are what make the load worthwhile to bear. Our CSE education has equipped us with the necessary building blocks to create a solid foundation for our futures – and a full sack to leave here with today.

“Today, together, our sacks are filled, tied with a tight knot and ready to be placed on our backs, once again, to continue the journey toward fulfilling our dreams. Just as CSE is a place, building on the power of dreams, we – the graduating class of 2011 – now have the building blocks to make those dreams come true. Our class will always be known as the ‘Dragonflies;’ ready to take on a new challenge, inspire our challengers, and be the light that guides a host of empowered women all over the world.”

Sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, Convent Station, New Jersey, the College of Saint Elizabeth enrolls more than 2,100 full- and part-time students in more than 25 undergraduate, 10 graduate and one doctoral degree programs. For information on other activities or programs, visit the College of Saint Elizabeth web site at www.cse.edu.