‘Define What Is Important to You’: Grad Commencement 2019

2019 Commencement happy graduates.

“Class of 2019, you inspire us and reaffirm our belief in the transformative power of higher education,” JWU Providence Campus President Marie Bernardo-Sousa, LP.D. '92 told the assembled crowd of jubilant soon-to-be-grads, parents, families and friends at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

Student speaker Anusha Deshpande also evoked the journey of transformation that she and her fellow graduates had embarked upon: “Sometimes, the hardest thing and the right thing are the same,” she said. Despite the inevitable challenges, “we have not only emerged better read but we’ve emerged stronger, more passionate, more confident than we had begun. Most importantly, we have emerged as the selves we are meant to be — whole and complete!”

"Define what is important to you, and stay focused on it."

Keynote speaker Cindi Bigelow, president and CEO of Bigelow Tea, spoke of being humbled by the honor — and wanting to really address grads’ biggest concerns in moving on from such a great milestone in their lives. “I would venture to say that, whether you know what you are going to be doing upon graduation or not, many of you are feeling a little bit of angst about your future,” she said. “I would like to say that you are about to enter into ‘gray space’ — now, this is easy for me to say, but gray space is a good thing. It is where you are going to learn more about yourself than you might ever realize sitting in your seat today. You will learn what you do like, and what you don’t. You will learn what kind of boss you like to work for — and what kind you do not. Take it all in!”

She went on to share some of her own career path, and how finding her own passion and voice took time and required her to listen to and learn from her own instincts. “I don’t believe you can ‘have it all,’” she told graduates. “You can, however, have what you prioritize. Define what is important to you, and stay focused on it. Then on your curvy path forward into the gray space, you will find what I believe will be your definition of success.”

All told, 14 graduates attained the highest education degree possible: a doctor of education in educational leadership. This year’s total degrees awarded:

  • Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership: 14
  • Master of Science: 59
  • Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies: 35
  • Master of Arts in Teaching : 28
  • Master of Education: 10
  • Master of Business Administration: 188
  • Total: 334

2019 Commencement Runey Bernardo-Sousa

2019 Commencement cap.

2019 Commencement Cindi Bigelow.

2019 Commencement happy graduate.


2019 Commencement the littlest graduate.