Undergraduate Commencement Ceremonies 2019

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Health Sciences and Nursing Ceremony

Graduates proceed into the ceremony

Graduates encouraged to live with no regrets

Bryan Donahue, a third-generation U.S. Marine who overcame a deadly liver disease after being given six months to live, urged graduates of our Undergraduate School of Health Sciences and School of Nursing to accept new challenges with optimism rather than despair.

Donahue delivered the keynote address during the May 18, 9 a.m. ceremony, which was the first of three Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies held in the People's United Center on the York Hill Campus.

“I thought I was invincible, yet I knew I was in for the fight of my life,” Donahue told members of the Class of 2019 of his battle with liver disease at the age of 22. “The tricky thing for me to mentally grasp was that my enemy was internal. Every ounce of discipline, mental toughness and determination would be tested at levels I didn’t know existed.”

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Brian Donahue at the podium during Commencement

Vital members of the team

Brian Donahue, a liver transplant survivor, encouraged the health sciences and nursing graduates to remember that they all play a vital role in life-saving health care teams.

This strategy to overcoming adversity, the 43-year-old Donahue explained at the ceremony in the People’s United Center on our York Hill Campus, has served him well throughout his life as a former mortgage banker, motivational speaker and author of “On Borrowed Time, How I Built a Life While Beating Death.” 

Donahue told the graduates that every degree represented here today played a vital role in his recovery.

“When I wanted to give up, the professionals you are about to become would look me in the eyes and say, ‘Not today.’ They figuratively and at times literally carried me when I needed it most,” he said, urging the grads to remember that their unique role contributes to their team’s greatness.

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The Class of 2019 is the first to receive degrees from new President Judy Olian, who encouraged graduates to remain curious, lifelong learners — the best preparation for 21st century careers and citizenship.

Olian urged the graduates to remember that failure doesn't have to be fatal.

“It can be the stepping stone to success if you take the time to learn from it,” she said. She shared that while in her last year as an undergraduate at the Hebrew University, she worked as an assistant in the office of one of the most senior leaders of the university. “It was a stretch because I’d never done anything like that before, and it was a big deal to be working there.”

However, within a few months, she was fired. She never figured out quite why. 

Several graduates enter the arena

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“I was mortified that I had failed and wanted to crawl under a rock. Somehow, through gutsiness or naïveté or both, I applied for an aspirational job in the prime minister’s office in Israel,” she said. In her interview she told them she’d been fired, why she thought it had happened, and what she learned from that experience.

“To my utter surprise, they still hired me. Perhaps, my candor and my self-reflection about that embarrassing experience got me that job, which turned out to be a fantastically interesting growth opportunity that was significant to what came later in my life,” she said.

Graduates proceed into the ceremony

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Kipp Edward Hopper speaks at a podium

Looking forward

Kipp Edward Hopper '19, who earned a BS from the School of Health Sciences, delivered the response of the Class of 2019.

Kipp Edward Hopper '19, who earned a bachelor of science from the School of Health Sciences, and Justin James Ragozzino '19, who earned a bachelor of science in nursing from the School of Nursing, each spoke on behalf of the Class of 2019.

“While we are all fortunate to stand tall today, we must never forget those who sit beneath the unending burdens within our health system,” Hopper said. “The current drug crisis continues to consume lives indiscriminately, leaving no community untouched in the wake of an addiction and mental health crisis. Add to this plight the rising cost of health care, depriving citizens who form the backbone of this country from getting the help they deserve: minority Americans, veterans, low-income families, all of whom deserve the right to equal care — yet the statistics tell us we are failing them every day. This is the world we are graduating into, my fellow students, and it is not pretty.”

However, he said he remains optimistic.

“Our experiences at Quinnipiac have shaped our ways of thinking and leading through problems,” he said. “I think every student here today will some day see an absurd or failing function of our health care system and we will have the opportunity to ask, ‘Why does it have to be this way?’”

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In the School of Health Sciences, 480 graduates earned Bachelor of Science degrees. In the School of Nursing, 220 graduates earned Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (accelerated) degrees.

Donahue asked the graduates to remember that kindness drives job satisfaction and personal enrichment.

“In life and our careers, it is not what you get that makes you special. It is what you give that makes you extraordinary,” Donahue said. “Whatever you decide to do, get in it for the outcome, not just the income. Your sense of fulfillment in life will skyrocket.”

Arts and Sciences and Communications Ceremony

Speaker urges graduates to view life’s complications as opportunities

Award-winning poet and memoirist Reginald Dwayne Betts, who received an honorary doctorate from the College of Arts and Sciences, compared the graduates' present and future lives to the automatic watch on his wrist.

Betts delivered the keynote address during the May 18, 2 p.m. ceremony, which was the second of three Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies held in the People's United Center on the York Hill Campus.

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He began by explaining how automatic watches are valued by how many “complications” — or “features”— they have, from timers to a calendars.

“Why would you call something that’s a benefit a complication?” Betts asked members of the Class of 2019. “Well, it depends on how you view the thing.”

Betts urged the graduates to imagine themselves as carefully crafted time pieces, and to think of their potential complications as struggles that could profoundly shape them and their lives.

Reginald Dwayne Betts at podium

Altering perspectives

Award-winning poet and memoirist Reginald Dwayne Betts delivered the keynote address to graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Communications

“If we thought about the struggles we’ve had, all the complications in our life as things that benefit us because they gave us insight into a future we wanted to create, we’d be blessed,” he said.

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Betts closed with a story that was equal parts about serendipity and proximity, about how overhearing a chance conversation in the Harvard Law School cafeteria as a Radcliffe Fellow changed the trajectory of his life, providing the pretext he’d needed to pursue a law degree, even if it hadn’t been what he had originally planned.

“You shouldn’t let what you might do tomorrow get in the way of what you could do today,” Betts told the graduates, adding, “always make yourself proximate to the opportunities you want—or might want.”    

A graduate looks up and smiles at his family
“Your presence makes me think about the possibilities in my own life,” Betts said. “Our collective presence makes me think about the possibilities for this country and our future, and for a planet that’s sustainable for the next 200 years.”
Reginald Dwayne Betts's Quinnipiac 2019 Commencement speech.

Watch the keynote address

Poet and author Reginald Dwayne Betts delivered the keynote address to graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Communications.

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President Judy Olian conferred 380 degrees to graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences and 230 School of Communications graduates.

Communities, Olian told graduates, need them now more than ever. She spoke of a future where they would use vastly expanding knowledge and information to bring opportunity to previously marginalized segments of society, as well as leverage technology and science to improve the quality of life for millions.

“You are the generations that can achieve these breakthroughs, and you won’t just change the world, you will literally make it,” she said. “You are the communicators, story tellers, inventors, critical thinkers, community activists and even dreamers who will ‘make a dent in the universe.’”

A graduate holds up her diploma

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Filomena Stabile ‘19, who earned a bachelor of arts from the College of Arts and Sciences, and Ryan Muscato, who earned a bachelor of science from the School of Communications, each spoke on behalf of the Class of 2019.

Stabile spoke of her experience as being one defined by prolific university expansion, institutional change and numerous firsts.

“Many of us will remember voting in our first presidential election, as well as student government elections while at Quinnipiac, and now we are leaving with having had our first female president, Dr. Judy Olian,” Stabile said.

Stabile expressed her pride to be counted among a graduating class of future educators, health administrators, artists, policy makers, authors and economists. She called her peers independent thinkers with the tools, connections, and now, the degrees, capable of implementing genuine transformation in the world. She closed on the importance of identity, reminding them that our similarities will always outweigh our differences.

Filomena Lucia Stabile at the podium

Encouraging transformation

Filomena Lucia Stabile '19 delivered the response of the Class or 2019 on behalf of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Your background does not define you,” Stabile said. “It’s what you do in times of adversity that does. Quinnipiac has made us worthy of great things; now all that’s left for us to do is believe we are.”

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A humble Muscato echoed Stabile’s sentiment, describing his personal struggle with and eventual triumph over drug addiction, after which he began his Quinnipiac journey. Rather than bask in his own accomplishment, Muscato, today three years sober and counting, took his time to celebrate the institution that welcomed and strengthened him.

“This community showed me not to be ashamed to fail, but to embrace it, because it’s what we learn through our constant failures that eventually leads us to success,” he said. “That’s what Quinnipiac is all about.”

Muscato emphatically thanked the professors who encouraged his intellectual growth, the administrators who always left their doors open for advice and support, and all of his peers who embraced him and inspired him to be a better person — many of whom he has formed enduring friendships with.

Ryan Muscato speaks at a podium

New beginnings

Ryan Muscato '19, who earned a degree from the School of Communications, addressed his fellow graduates.

“I learned that success is having the opportunity to show up every day and work with some of the smartest, funniest, most creative and talented people out there, and I feel pretty damn successful at Quinnipiac just about every single day,” he said. “When life inevitably happens and your back is against the wall, it’s those people you have surrounded yourself around that are the most important.”

Business and Engineering Ceremony

Graduates proceed into the ceremony

Embrace and be the change in the world, graduates told

Graduates of our School of Business and School of Engineering — 522 strong — were urged to have conviction and stay the course — even when confronted with failure.

Javier Polit, chief information officer at Proctor & Gamble, delivered the keynote address to graduates during the third of three undergraduate 2019 Commencement ceremonies held at the People’s United Center.

“Change is a given,” Polit told the graduates. “Think about the changes you have been through in just the past four-plus years. You possibly changed your major, had more than one roommate, had disappointments and moments of great excitement. Maybe who you are today is not who you thought or even imagined you would become when you came here as a freshman.”

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However, through it all, he urged graduates to maintain the conviction about what they are doing, but commit to learning and reinventing themselves.

“You will know when your dreams are big because they will make you nervous,” Polit advised. “So be nervous. Never settle. As with all matters of the heart, you will know when you find it. Keep looking, never settle and have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

In this era of seismic change throughout our society, it is imperative to be dynamic and be willing to reinvent yourself, he said.    

Javier Polit at the podium during Commencement

Embracing change

Javier Polit, chief information officer at Proctor & Gamble and leader of its information technology global organization, delivered the keynote address to business and engineering graduates.

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President Judy Olian told the graduates the world needed them now more than ever.

“We live in times of social and political polarization, of growing tensions along economic, gender, racial, ethnic and religious divides,” she told the Class of 2019. “At the same time, we are experiencing the excitement and opportunities of unprecedented discoveries in artificial intelligence and data sciences, democratized access to information and knowledge, disruptive technological breakthroughs across every field, new service opportunities, changes to market structures, and fascinating entrepreneurial opportunities where the only barrier to entry is the quality of one’s ideas.”

Exploiting these opportunities and deploying innovations wisely could radically alleviate social tensions and improve the quality of living for communities, and even for nations, that have been previously deprived, Olian said.

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“You’re the generation that can achieve these breakthroughs, and you won’t just change the world, you will literally make it,” said President Olian. “You will create and utilize the opportunities of rapidly advancing technologies and scientific discovery to improve the quality of life for many. This is such an exciting time, and you are so well positioned to join this accelerating wave of innovation and socially impactful change.”

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Kipp Edward Hopper speaks at a podium

Daniel Bok ’19, a School of Business graduate, described a journey of change and growth at Quinnipiac.

“The most powerful attribute Quinnipiac has provided us in an opportunity,” he said. “An opportunity to thrive and succeed, to strive and prosper. We are all put in a position to do anything we want in this world. We were all fortunate enough to wear that sacred blue and gold, to walk our storied quad and now we have an opportunity to take the world by storm.”

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Kyle Lopez ’19, a School of Engineering graduate, urged his peers to make the most of their educations to better the world.

“Go forth and create your own future,” he implored. “Be authentic in your ways, lose a little and gain a lot more, but most of all, master the art of failing. Our potential is boundless, and our success isn’t measured by making it to the next destination in life.”

Ragazzino speaks at a podium

About Quinnipiac

Quinnipiac hosted 3 undergraduate Commencement ceremonies May 18 and 19 at the People's United Center on the York Hill Campus. In all, there were 1,832 undergraduate degree candidates from six schools:

  • 380 in the College of Arts and Sciences
  • 460 in the School of Business
  • 230 in the School of Communications
  • 62 in the School of Engineering
  • 480 in the School of Health Sciences
  • 220 in the School of Nursing

In addition, Quinnipiac awarded a total of 1,219 degrees to graduate, law and medical students on May 10 and 11.

Quinnipiac is a dynamic, three-campus university where professors who want to know students by name come to teach, and where students who want a personal, challenging education come to learn.

Located in Southern New England, Quinnipiac’s top-rated academics, low faculty-to-student ratio and Division I athletics are just some of the reasons why it is consistently ranked among the best universities by U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. It is one of 100 universities to have both a law school and a medical school with the opening of the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine in 2013, and the Quinnipiac University Poll is respected by media organizations around the globe.

Faculty members are experts in their fields and generous with their time. The university enrolls 7,000 full-time undergraduate and 3,000 graduate and part-time students in 110 degree programs through its Schools of Business, Communications, Education, Engineering, Health Sciences, Law, Medicine, Nursing and the College of Arts and Sciences. 

Throughout its rich history, Quinnipiac has remained true to its three core values: high-quality academic programs, a student-oriented environment and a strong sense of community.