Saint Mary's Celebrates Undergraduate and Graduate Commencements on May 23 and 24

2009 valedictorian Suzanne Guese and Provost Bethami Dobkin.Nearly 1,000 students received undergraduate and graduate degrees from Saint Mary's College over Memorial Day weekend in commencement ceremonies that were filled with hope for the future and fond memories of the past.

In his salutation at the undergraduate commencement on May 23 in Saint Mary's Stadium, Brother President Ronald Gallagher lauded the 631 members of the Class of 2009 for the acclaim they brought the College during their time on campus.

"You have brought national recognition to Saint Mary's in service, artistic, literary, scientific and athletic accomplishment. You have garnered a world-wide reputation for stuffing phone booths, continuing a proud Gael tradition," Brother Ronald said. "You are leaving a legacy of generosity, enthusiasm and commitment to the undergraduates who follow you."

James M. Guyette '67, president and CEO of Rolls-Royce North America, spoke in his commencement address about the current crises occurring throughout society today. However, he encouraged the graduates, saying the current time is "probably not what you imagined, but don't give up. The sky is not falling - there's hope, lots of hope."

Guyette said the key to success was "a compass, a network, a clock and the right attitude," emphasizing the importance of the right attitude."

"Attitude is our approach to circumstances and to people," he said. "You will find the very best organizations will hire for attitude and train for skills."

Valedictorian Suzanne Guese, a communications and Italian studies major, framed her remarks with stories of her time abroad in Italy, including words of wisdom from an Italian gelato maker: "If you do what you love, you never get tired."

Guese added that the Lasallian principles upon which Saint Mary's is founded "give us the remarkable ability to not allow anything or anyone to say we can't do something we love," and "gives us the idea of not only serving others but also serving ourselves for the benefit of those with whom we surround ourselves."

On Sunday, about 240 people graduated from various master's and doctoral programs in the Kalmanovitz School of Education and five graduate programs in the School of Liberal Arts: LEAP (Liberal Education for Arts Professions), Kinesiology, Graduate Liberal Studies, Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing and Master of Arts in Leadership.

Commencement speaker Steve Westly, the former California controller and CEO of the Westly Group, told some 240 graduates that he loved graduations because "things like hope and optimism don't seem like abstract concepts."

Westly noted that the United States has been the world's economic leader since 1890, but said that economists predict that China will surpass America in about 30 years. He acknowledged the current economic problems occurring globally, but said "change is coming quickly."

"That means there are extraordinary opportunities for new leaders, and that's where you come in," he told the graduates. He told them to think big, to change the world starting with one community at a time and to seize opportunities to succeed.

"Use your imagination; use your courage," he said. "Ask not who you will follow, but who will follow you."

-- Erin Hallissy and Elizabeth Smith
Office of College Communications

Photo by Kat Wade