Merrimack’s master degree graduates urged to make the world a better place

Former first daughter Barbara Pierce Bush urged graduates at the Merrimack College graduate school commencement May 20 to leave themselves open to the whimsical nature of opportunity that will lead them on unpredicted personal trajectories and career paths.

“Indeed, time and again, the most transformative events in not just my life, but in so many lives, have not been the carefully executed projects or the well-selected class schedule,” Bush said. “Instead, they are the random moments and unexpected people life sets in your path — moments in which you realize it’s time to take a risk or to change your course.”

Nearly 270 students participated in the graduate commencement exercises held on campus at the Merrimack Athletic Center. About 47 degrees were conferred in the School of Science and Engineering, about 50 for the Girard School of Business, and about 172 in the School of Education and Social Policy.

It was an evening to recognize hard work and academic success, punctuated with jubilation among graduates and their families.

Bush said she was studying to be an architect when she went to Uganda with her parents to launch the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. She was unprepared for the harrowing images of people lining the streets waiting for medicine to save their lives. The same medicines that are readily available in the United States.

Bush met an emaciated child being eaten away by disease and the experience set her on a new course advocating and fighting for global health. As a 20-something she founded Global Health Corps with four other idealists.

“The complexity of today’s global health problems means that no one expert or single approach will ever be good enough,” Bush said. “Instead, to solve big problems, we need out-of-the-box thinking and new, diverse connections, connections that no one else has tried yet.”

Merrimack President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D., advised graduates they are entering a world of challenges and opportunities in which their commitment to lifelong learning and service to others will be needed to shape its direction.

“I know each of you will use your talents, your faith, your drive, and your knowledge to make a difference,” Hopey said. “As you embark on your life’s journey, always remember the words of St. Augustine: Don’t settle for knowledge, move toward wisdom.”

Farrah Bruny, of West Medford, who earned a master of education in community engagement gave the traditional student address and issued a call to action among her classmates. Work toward justice for all humankind as a public display of love, she said.

“True, unconditional love and unwavering love is what the world needs,” Bruny said. “With love we have dialogue; with dialogue we have understanding; and with understanding we have respect.”

Shelby McConnell, of Medford, Mass., earned a master of education in teacher education. Her degree offered her more than reading textbooks.

“I got a whole year of experience in the classroom in an urban setting and it made me realize I want to work in the inner city of Boston with English Language Learners,” McConnell said.

Tyler Berube, of Topsfield, Mass., earned a master of science in management while working full time at a Burlington, Mass. insurance company and doing a marketing internship with Sylvania.

“It was definitely tough with full-time work and school,” Berube said. “It was a challenge, but a good challenge. The professors were great, the courses were challenging.”


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