Holy Cross Awards 675 Bachelor of Arts Degrees During Commencement Exercises

Favreau, former head speechwriter for President Obama, urges grads to choose hope over cynicism

May 23rd, 2014 by 

Jon Favreau ’03, former director of speechwriting for President Barack Obama and co-founder of Fenway Strategies, delivers the Commencement address to the Holy Cross Class of 2014. Image by Dan Vaillancourt

In his impassioned address at the College’s 168th Commencement Exercises held on May 23, Jon Favreau ’03, former director of speechwriting for President Barack Obama and co-founder of Fenway Strategies, told members of the Holy Cross Class of 2014 to choose hope and optimism over cynicism.

Under cloudy skies on Fitton Field, a total of 675 men and women were awarded Bachelor of Arts degrees before family and friends of the graduates, Holy Cross faculty, administrators, staff and honored guests.

Favreau returned to the Holy Cross Commencement stage where he delivered the valedictory address just 11 years earlier. In his speech to graduates, Favreau, who also received an honorary degree, imparted advice about career choices they will make, the importance of family and friends in their lives, and the world that they now have the power to change.

A political science major at Holy Cross, the 32-year-old told graduates that he was planning on attending law school when, about 12 hours before his graduation, he received an offer to be the press office assistant on John Kerry’s presidential campaign. A few years later the North Reading, Mass., native became director of speechwriting for President Obama from the beginning of his term as a United States Senator through early 2013.

After watching the recent “NBC Nightly News” piece that profiled students who took part in a large community service project throughout the city of Worcester, Favreau was reminded how seldom it is to come across a news story about the selfless devotion that motivates people around the world.

“Never forget that such devotion exists,” he implored graduates. “Never lose the palpable faith in human progress that is the greatest gift of a Jesuit education from Holy Cross. … My wish today is that you choose to hope – hard and risky as it may be. My wish is that you choose to give others the same presumption of good faith that you want to be given. My wish is that despite all the sound and logical reasons not to, you choose to try.”

Favreau said Holy Cross has prepared the graduates to meet the inevitable obstacles they will face in their lives.

“Life is a wonderful struggle. And we are all very lucky that this special place on a hill has prepared us to live it well – with grace, love, patience, and above all, hope.”

In his valedictory address, graduating senior Jeffrey Reppucci, of Newburyport, Mass., urged his classmates that, in addition to pursuing their vocational aspirations and personal ambitions, they continue to stay aware of social justice issues and live lives of service. During his undergraduate career, Reppucci, a Russian major and member of the men’s hockey team, established several major community service projects both in the U.S. and abroad. Earlier this week, he was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Argentina for the 2014-15 academic year, and plans to launch another community service project while he’s there.

“Service is taking the time to notice and reflect on the needs and injustices in our society and to act on them,” he said.

In addition to Favreau, honorary degrees were also conferred on Rochelle M. Bard ’98, a critically acclaimed soprano, and Rev. John W. Padberg, S.J., an internationally recognized scholar and author.

>Favreau For more coverage, including photos, video and audio, visit the Commencement website.


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2014 Commencement Address – Jon Favreau ’03
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