On Saturday, May 10, Saint Joseph’s College held its 101st Commencement, from its Standish campus on the shores of Sebago Lake. This year, the College recognized the accomplishments of 564 graduates: 202 from its on-campus programs and 362 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—Peter Geiger, the editor of Farmers’ Almanac and the executive vice president of Geiger, Inc.; Maureen McCullough, JD, the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic regional director of Catholic Relief Services; and Dr. Ann Lemire, the medical director of the India Street Clinic for the Health and Human Services Division of Public Health for the city of Portland. Peter Geiger was the Commencement speaker.
Dr. Ann Lemire and Maureen McCullough, JD were presented with honorary Doctor of Public Service degrees. Peter Geiger received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
At the opening of the ceremony, Saint Joseph’s president, Dr. James Dlugos, recalled the College’s humble beginnings, when, in 1912, students of Saint Joseph’s Academy asked Sister Xaveria Toohey to prepare them to become teachers, “a request that led to the founding of our wonderful institution,” said Dlugos.
Dlugos continued, focusing on the confidence and trust that request required on behalf of the students and Sister Xaveria: “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.”
Community continued as a theme of the ceremony, with Peter Geiger addressing the Class of 2014: “Since you have spent time on this campus, it will always be part of who you are. And as alumni, you are part of the school’s future. …Today, you have a tremendous campus, but more importantly, an engaged faculty, strong administration, and a diverse educational offering that allows you to move in any direction you want going forward.”
Geiger continued, encouraging the Class of 2014, if they hadn’t already done so, to volunteer. “It’s a powerful experience,” Geiger said. “I have volunteered all my life…. As graduates of Saint Joseph’s College, you have the skills to live a full life and the foundation to exhibit compassion for others.”
The Class valedictorian, Shannon Chisholm, gave an emotional address to her fellow graduates: “It is both a joyful and sad day for a lot of us. We have finally attained our ultimate goal, but we must also say goodbye to the place that has been our home for the last four years and the people who have become our family. After today, we will all part ways and chase after new dreams and new goals. Our paths in life will lead us all in different directions. But no matter where life takes us, Saint Joseph’s will be the place that keeps us connected. It is where we discovered ourselves, and it is the place our paths will branch out from.”
She continued, remembering student-athlete Clark Noonan and two faculty members, Dr. Karen Lemke and Dr. Stephen Aylward: “Looking out into the crowd today, I see many smiling faces, but there are three members of our community who are not present and their absence is sorely felt by all of us. …It is sad to realize they are not here with us, but I know that they are looking down from heaven today, cheering us on, and sharing in our immense joy and triumph.”