District Judge Troy Nunley Speaks at Saint Mary's College Commencement
College Awards More Than 680 Undergraduate Degrees in its Sesquicentennial Year
In its 150th anniversary year, Saint Mary’s College of California heard from commencement speaker District Judge Troy Nunley, a 1986 graduate of the College who was nominated to the post by President Barack Obama and confirmed earlier this year.
During the ceremonies, attended by thousands of family members and friends, the College conferred more than 650 bachelor’s degrees from its Schools of Science, Liberal Arts and Economics & Business Administration. It also award 30 associate of science degrees in the Pre-Nursing Program operated in conjunction with Samuel Merritt College in Oakland.
SMC President Brother Ronald Gallagher welcomed the graduating class of the 150th year of Saint Mary’s College, telling them, “You are the reason that we have been recognized as a College that changes lives.” He added: “If you take one thing with you, let it be that each person is sacred and should be treated as such. That is the foundation of our Lasallian mission and is a message sorely needed in the world today.”
Introducing Nunley, Provost Beth Dobkin noted that he had grown up in Hunter’s Point, a San Francisco neighborhood where he sometimes had to lie on the floor to avoi d stray bullets from gun battles in the streets. But his dream of being a judge was nurtured during childhood visits to San Francisco courts, where his mother worked as a probation officer.
Nunley credited Saint Mary’s Collegiate Seminar program with helping him acquire the gifts of critical thinking and deliberation so necessary to his current position. He also acknowledged the role of the SMC community, saying that he “made the mistake of once telling a Christian Brother that I wanted to be a lawyer. From that point forward, he pushed, encouraged and believed in me at a time when I don’t think I had much confidence in myself.”
Saying that his humble upbringing had created in him a desire to give back to his community, he urged the new graduates to do the same.
“My entire care er has been guided by the Lasallian tradition of service to the community,” he said. “I continue to be active in my parish, I coach, and I mentor. My service record represents my gift back to my parents, teachers, and counselors.”
He concluded by telling the graduates, “Go back to your respective communities, find a need and fill it.”
The College’s valedictorian, Shelby Solomon of Pittburg, California, also spoke of community in her speech to the crowd.
She recalled being so shy in the first days of her college career that she hid out in the bathroom. But by the end of the Weekend of Welcome, she had already begun to embrace––and be embraced by––the Saint Mary’s community.
Looking back on her years at the College, she said, “Saint Mary’s has turned me into a confident leader, a thinker, and most importantly a speaker and activist who can clearly articulate my thoughts and put them into action for the benefit of the society and the underprivileged.”