Stormy skies parted in time for the Class of 2014 at the College of Saint Elizabeth to celebrate their accomplishments with family and friends during ceremonies on campus, Saturday, May 17, 2014.  For this 112th Commencement at the College, more than 400 graduates received their degrees, including 237 undergraduates from the Women’s College and adult undergraduate programs, 170 graduate students, and 12 doctoral students.

This graduation is the first under the administration of Dr. Helen J. Streubert, appointed president on July 1, 2013, and formally inaugurated on April 25, 2014.

 “As I peruse the headlines of our daily newspapers, I am reminded of the great need for leadership in the world,” Streubert told graduates and their families. “You, the women and men who have graduated today have been imbued with the ability to assume leadership in your homes, your workplaces, your communities, your churches and indeed this nation… Here at CSE, we facilitate learning with a focus on using that knowledge to lead – but we also teach our graduates how to live – to live full and vibrant lives which contribute significantly to the wellbeing of the people of God.”

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Sister Rosemary Moynihan, general superior of the Sisters of Charity and chair of the CSE board of trustees, also addressed the graduates. “Your significant contributions give evidence that our mission is alive in each one of you. We believe in you and we trust that you will go forth and make a difference in the world…make life better for others.”

 This year’s Commencement address, “The Five F’s to Live By – Faith, Family, Friends, Fortitude and Fun” was given by Heidi J. Sorvino, J.D., a well-regarded lawyer with the firm of Hodgson Russ, New York, N.Y.  Sorvino, who comes from a large, loving Catholic family, encouraged graduates to “be your biggest fan, embrace your family and friends …have faith, be grateful for what you have, but most of all, this is not a dress rehearsal, have fun and go after your dreams.”

She detailed some challenges from her own life – both personal and professional – and how she handled them with the help of family and friends.  “If you take away anything from what I have said today, life is about how you bounce back,” she concluded.

In recognition of her commitment to the practice of law and promoting women as full partners in the workplace, Sorvino with presented with the Doctor of Laws Degree, Honoris Causa.

The College also bestowed a Doctor of Humane Letters Degree, Honoris Causa, posthumously upon Sister Regina Martin Keane, SC, in recognition of her significant contributions to the advancement and support of education. She was a well-known educator in the state, having served as principal of Mother Seton High School in Clark, N.J., since 1975. Prior to that, she taught ministry at St. Paul School in Clifton, N.J., and mathematics and religion at Mother Seton. 

Student Speakers Address Their Peers

Two students – Jennifer Ampofo of Newark, N.J., and Marion Spranger of Colonia, N.J. – addressed their peers, chronicling their very different paths to CSE. Ampofo is a traditional women’s college student who earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in allied health studies with a minor in business administration. In her speech, “The Kaleidoscope of Simplicity,” the Newark resident detailed experiences from move-in day freshmen year to graduation. “Like most of us, I came to CSE unsure of myself…Today, we stand ready to live out our life’s purpose and make a lasting impact on the world.” She stressed the College’s commitment to social justice and its role in her future. “We must take all that we have learned here and apply it to our daily lives, in turn, encouraging others to live out their greatness.”

Spranger, who described herself as a “late bloomer,” is a registered nurse who achieved her lifelong goal to obtain her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing “I did take the long way around the academic mountain,” she said in her speech, “Horizons Without Borders.”  Though life is very different for her now than when she graduated with an associate’s degree, she has strong faith. “As we join our family and friends today to celebrate their accomplishment, let us relish the now, knowing surely God is in this place…I urge you to allow God to be part of your journey forward. Grace has a way of opening doors in ways we never thought possible.”