Graduate and Adult Students of the Class of 2017
451 degrees conferred at first of two ceremonies at 71st Commencement
POUGHKEEPSIE (May 22, 2017) – "We really applaud you for the dedication it's taken for your to get here today," President David Yellen told the 365 graduate and 86 adult undergraduate students on whom conferred degrees at a Friday, May 19 ceremony on the Campus Green before approximately 2,000 family members and friends, marking the start of the 71st Marist Commencement Exercises.
Referring to the "Three R's" from elementary school. President Yellen encouraged the graduates to emphasize what he called "the three other R's": Relationships – nurture personal ones, which will matter than any award, and professional ones, which can matter more than what's on your resume; Resiliency – "We all fail in life," he said, "but the real test is how we learn from that failure;" and Reinvention – more important than what you learn in adapting to today's rapid changes, President Yellen said, is "learning to learn."
President Yellen awarding a degree during the Graduate and Adult Commencement Ceremony
During the ceremony, Marist Trustee and Scholar-in-Residence Bro. Sean Sammon, FMS, '70 was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Medal in recognition of a life and a career spent serving "your God and your fellow man as a leader, an educator, a scholar, and an advocate for social justice."
Remarking that character "is essential for living a life that has meaning," Bro. Sean encouraged the graduates to focus on three things: more than a career or a job, find your vocation, "something that summons you and speaks to your heart;" never be afraid to love. "Find your loves in life and give your heart to them;" and don't fear death, as it is a constant and urgent reminder "not to live someone else's life."
"All three," he said, "will help you to become the person you are meant to be."
Marist Trustee and Scholar-in-Residence Bro. Sean Sammon, FMS, '70 speaking at Friday's ceremony, where he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Medal
The Excellence in Graduate Studies Award was presented to Jason Thomas Wertz, a lead materials processing engineer for IBM in Poughkeepsie with B.S. and M.S. degrees in materials science and engineering from the University of Arizona, who earned his MBA from Marist that night.
"The importance of what we have accomplished and learned throughout our time here," Wertz told his fellow graduates, "should be applied and passed on to teach and learn from others."
Jason Thomas Wertz, left, recipient of the Excellence in Graduate Studies Award, and Holly L. Tubby, winner of the Award for Academic Distinction
The Award for Academic Distinction was presented to Holly L. Tubby, of West Camp, N.Y., who completed her B.S. in liberal studies at Marist after beginning her college education at SUNY Ulster and graduating from Fairfield University's National School of Banking, and working full-time in human resources while also raising a family.
"As non-traditional students, we took an altered path to graduation," she told her classmates. "Our winding path has had bumps, twists and turns, giant hills, and maybe even roadblocks along the way. We worked hard to get here. We've overcome the terrain and made it to our destination. That, my friends, is something to celebrate."