May 22, 2014

Emmanuel Celebrates 92nd Commencement

On Saturday, May 10th, Emmanuel celebrated its 92nd Commencement Exercises on the College's campus, conferring 633 degrees to bachelor's and master's candidates. Kenneth R. Feinberg, former administrator of The One Fund Boston delivered the Commencement Address and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws. The College also honored Peggy S. Kemp, the Headmaster of Fenway High School, an award-winning Pilot school in Boston.

Tiye Naeemah Cort, who received her Master of Arts in Teaching from Emmanuel's Graduate Studies + Nursing program, and Class of 2014 President Jenny Konecnik, who received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a concentration in crime and justice, were selected as this year's student speakers.

Emmanuel College President Sister Janet Eisner, SND offered her congratulations to the graduates and encouraged them to stay connected to and involved in the place they've come to call home.

"We will miss your presence on campus but we know that we will see you, and you will see each other, often in the years ahead," Sr. Janet said. "The strong connections you have formed with your classmates and with the larger Emmanuel community will continue to thrive at class reunions, alumni gatherings and online. You have been tweeting each other for years, don't stop now! Wherever you go in life, and you will go far, you will have one another, and you will always call Emmanuel home."

Feinberg, the Founder and Managing Partner of the law firm Feinberg Rozen, LLP, is widely known for his leadership of high-profile victim compensation efforts including The One Fund Boston, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, the Virginia Tech Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund (2007) and the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (2010).  In his citation, read by Professor of Philosophy Raymond J. Devettere, Feinberg was praised for having "reaffirmed the resilience of our city and helped to show the world that, in the face of senselessness, we as a community stand strong, and that compassion and generosity have the final word."

In his address to the graduates, Feinberg shared that one of the enduring lessons from the tragedies of 9/11, the Virginia Tech shootings and the Boston Marathon bombing is that life is precious and can be tragically fleeting.

"Take nothing for granted," Feinberg said. "Do not assume that the degree you receive here today guarantees future success.  I know better than most that very little in life is guaranteed, nor is life always fair.  Hundreds of innocent victims never thought of the tragedy that would occur during that joyous day one year ago celebrating Patriots' Day."

Feinberg also took a moment to recognize a special member of the audience, Emmanuel alumna Elisabeth O'Hearn '47, his ninth-grade English teacher from his hometown of Brockton, Mass. Their reunion was featured in the May 13, 2014, edition of the Boston Globe.

"To this day, I still call her Miss O'Hearn," he said.

Peggy Kemp, who has served as Fenway High School's Headmaster since 2003, received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the Commencement Exercises.

In her citation, read by Associate Professor of Psychology Kimberly Smirles, Kemp was honored for her work "to improve not only test scores, graduation rates and four-year college placements, but also the confidence and 'habits of the mind' of a student body that reflects the diversity of the city in which they live and learn.

"You expect much from your students, but provide the purposeful, challenging and creative learning environment that enables them to exceed those expectations," Smirles read.

Under Kemp's leadership, Fenway High School has been recognized as a U.S. Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School and as a bronze medalist in the U.S. News & World Report's list of America's Best High Schools, among countless other honors and awards. Since 2005, Emmanuel College has partnered with Fenway High School to provide a dual enrollment program, allowing Fenway students to enroll in undergraduate courses at the College at no cost.

Kemp encouraged the graduates to "be comfortable in being uncomfortable," sharing her own experience in becoming a substitute teacher to earn extra money while in law school, despite having previously decided she had no interest in teaching.

"Your life in front of you is a lifetime of learning," Kemp said.

Two members of the Emmanuel College faculty were also recognized during the ceremony: Assistant Professor of Theology + Religious Studies Laurie Johnston and Associate Professor of Math and Information Technology Gouri Banerjee. Johnston was honored with the Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award, while Banerjee was recognized upon her retirement for her many contributions during her 17 years at the College.

Check out a selection of student tweets on Storify.

Members of the Class of 2014 offered some advice to the incoming Class of 2018. See the video here.