Saint Peter's College Celebrates 120th Commencement
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Posted by: jenny campbell
On May 23, 2011, the Saint Peter’s College Class of 2011 was celebrated by their families, friends, and members of the College community at Saint Peter’s 120th commencement exercises at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J. This year, 799 degrees were awarded to students at the graduate and undergraduate levels.
The College also conferred honorary doctorate degrees, honoris causa, upon Carlos Lejnieks, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties, a one-to-one, youth mentoring agency based in Newark, and The Most Reverend Thomas A. Donato, D.D.
Lejnieks also provided an inspirational commencement address, discussing his humble beginnings and encouraging graduates to not only celebrate themselves but to celebrate the people that supported them on their journey, including parents, grandparents, friends and mentors.
A former investment banker, Lejnieks left Corporate America to help seek "justice for all.” A self-proclaimed social entrepreneur, he now seeks work that is "personal to him" through Big Brothers Big Sisters, an organization whose mission is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with measurable impact. The organization is the oldest, largest and most effective youth mentoring organization in the United States and has been the leader in one-to-one youth service for more than a century, developing positive relationships that have a direct and lasting impact on the lives of young people.
Lejnieks encouraged the graduates to take a stand for the ideals that make our country so great. "This country needs you Class of 2011. You are the manifestation of the American Dream. We need you to mentor our children. We need you to rise up when others are seated. We need your voice when others are silent; your heart, when others are cold,” he appealed.
Class of 2011 Valedictorian Joanna Blanco, from Toms River, N.J., received a Bachelor of Science in biology. She addressed her fellow graduates, "We can be confident in what Saint Peter’s College has taught us intellectually, spiritually and morally,” she said. "In the words of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, Class of 2011: ‘Go forth and set the world on fire.’ It is our turn to ignite change and make a difference in the world.”
At the end of the ceremony, President Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., conferred the degrees upon the Class of 2011, and said, "We hope that your Saint Peter’s education has enabled you to grow not only academically and professionally, but spiritually as well. You now have the tools to build your future upon a strong foundation, and from that foundation, to shape the world around you.”