Sacred Heart University Graduate Commencement 'Packs the Pitt'

News Story:

By Daniel Drew
SHU Correspondent

It will be the responsibility of the Class of 2008 and their generation to right the wrongs the world is facing now, according to graduate commencement speaker James P. Comer, M.D., a renowned physician and professor of child psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine.

“I want you to consider just how important you are and your generation is — not just to your families, but to the world,” said Comer, who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the 42nd annual graduate commencement ceremony on Saturday in the Pitt Center.

The University bestowed a total of 1,465 degrees this year, including 23 Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees, 422 master’s degrees, 937 bachelor’s degrees, 29 associate’s degrees and 54 professional certificates.

Comer told graduate students to use their educations to make wise decisions because what they do now will set the paths of each individual — and the nation — for the future.

“Class of 2008, you are a time-sensitive and powerful generation,” he said. “What you do in the next 50 years will put us back on track or let us slide backward.”

The responsibility for the nation’s future lies with the Class of 2008’s generation because society has evolved to become vastly more complex in the past 50 years. The changes have reduced the United States’ ability to compete with other nations.

“Your generation must make it happen,” Comer said. “You must put us back on track.”

The graduates have already made great strides. Ten years ago, their generation was accused of widespread apathy, but now effects great changes in politics and culture and has introduced an additional layer of accountability to and devotion to service to public life.

Rob Kennedy, 38, left a lucrative sales position to earn a teaching degree and will continue at Sacred Heart to earn a sixth-year certificate.

“Life is too short to be doing something you’re unhappy with,” said Kennedy, of Bethany, Conn. “I just finished my first year of teaching, and I love it.”

“Your hard work and perseverance have brought you to this milestone,” said Anthony J. Cernera, Ph.D., Sacred Heart University president. “Thank you for your good work here. Thank you for remaining vital members of our community.”

In fact, many of the graduates also earned their undergraduate degrees at Sacred Heart and returned because of the quality of the faculty. Filomena Fontana, a 34-year-old employee of General Electric’s Commercial Finance division, earned an MBA. She returned to Sacred Heart to “catapult” her career forward.

“Two years ago, I walked as an undergraduate,” said Vincent Wynne, a 24-year-old high school biology teacher from Shelton who was awarded a Master of Arts in Teaching degree. “Now I’m walking with a master’s. The professors are very passionate about the students.”

Comer told graduates to use their educations wisely and be cautious in their future pursuits.

“Enjoy yourselves, but do not throw caution to the wind. Most of the decisions you make in the next five years will guide your lives for the next 50,” he said. “It is you acting alone and collectively who will change the world. Class of 2008, it’s your turn. We wish you Godspeed.”