LOWELL, Mass. – Within the Tsongas Center’s spacious stadium and beneath digital banners flashing “Congratulations Class of 2018,” hundreds of Rivier University students, teachers and faculty members took their seats on the stage and center floor as family members and loved ones cheered their successes from above. Celebrating its 83rd commencement, Rivier University awarded 727 degrees to doctoral, post-master’s, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degree graduates on Saturday.
To kick off the commencement ceremony, Rivier University honored two exceptional New Hampshire business and social entrepreneurs, Jeremy and Elizabeth Hitchcock, with honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees. The Hitchcocks have helped advance New Hampshire’s economy by investing in startup companies and supporting causes devoted to education, technology, public service and the arts and culture. In doing so, they have shown a deep commitment to community and workforce development.
Elizabeth Hitchcock holds executive positions at Hitchcock Management and at the Millworks Fund, an investment fund supporting New Hampshire’s startup community. She also is a co-managing member of 10x Venture Partners – New Hampshire’s largest and most active angel investor group. In recognition of her many achievements, Elizabeth Hitchcock was named to the 2017 New Hampshire Union Leader’s “40 Under Forty” list.
Jeremy Hitchcock is the founder of two internet companies: Dyn, a major internet performance management company, and Minim, which provides management and security solutions for increasingly complex home networks. He also was a finalist in the Ernst & Young New England Entrepreneur of the Year New England program in 2012.
In addition to receiving an honorary degree, Jeremy Hitchcock delivered the commencement address, which focused on technology and the humanities as tools to make a difference in the lives of others. He encouraged graduates to set goals with specific intention for themselves and for their future contributions to the world.
“STEM is a basic skill of the 21st century,” Jeremy Hitchcock said . “While I am a practitioner of science and engineering and technology, we must remember that we’re humans in the end. I do love technology – but my greatest moments of happiness have not come from the breakthroughs of technology but have been based on outcomes of people. STEM is a tool we can use to heal the world, teach the world and serve the word.”
Also delivering words of wisdom to her fellow graduates was Nashua native Haley Goodspeed who graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in business management.
“It’s a huge honor to speak in front of my classmates,” said Goodspeed. “I had the amazing opportunity to get to know every one of these brilliant and innovative students, so it feels great to be able to represent them.”
Goodspeed spoke on behalf of the undergraduate class. True to her name, she stressed to her classmates the need to be a compassionate and ethical leader for the community and a reflection of the good they want to see the world.
“At Rivier, we learned how to achieve success in serving our community and the world, with humility,” Goodspeed said. “Encouraged to understand and sympathize with others’ situations and suffering, we were taught to be compassionate, to act ethically and to be the good we’d like to see in the world. Continue to bring compassion and curiosity to everything you do, and we will serve and transform the world.”
Following Goodspeed’s speech, Scott Congdon, a graduate student from Merrimack, who received master’s in nursing, delivered similar words of advice as he urged classmates to find fulfillment in service to others.
“I challenge you to make a significant difference in the life of another,” Condon said. “In doing so, you will make a most significant difference in your own.”
With these words of encouragement firmly in mind, one by one, the graduates took the stage to receive their degrees starting with doctoral candidates moving to post-graduate and graduate candidates and concluding with those receiving undergraduate degrees. The Presentation of Candidates was performed by Associate Vice President for Learning Effectiveness Regina Shearer, while Sister Paula Marie Buley, IHM, Rivier’s president conducted the conferring of degrees and commissioning of graduates.
In total, more than 700 students earned degrees in academic programs ranging from nursing and public health to education, counseling, psychology, business, natural and computer sciences and the humanities. New for fall 2019, the university also plans to offer majors in sport management and cybersecurity management.
After everyone crossed the stage to receive their diplomas, the graduated class of 2018 stood in celebration while Shearer, a former member of “The Platters,” a famous 1950’s vocal group, belted out an original Ode to Rivier University and its graduating students to the awe and delight of everyone in attendance. The graduates then came together in a joint performance of the university song led by Shearer.
Collectively, they sang, “Rivier, to you we proudly sing/ Our hearts with Love brim o’er/ Our voices rise in praise/ For you we’ll make the echoes ring/ Faithful forevermore/ in memory of these days.”
To close the ceremony, Sister Buley offered well wishes to the graduates, encouraging all of them to hold tight to Rivier’s mission.
“Congratulations to all our graduates of the class of 2018,” said Sister Paula. “This is a singular achievement in your life and will serve as a strong foundation of the core mission of Rivier University to transform hearts and minds to serve the world.”