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Videos, Photo Galleries: Holy Cross Awards 699 Bachelor of Arts Degrees During Commencement Exercises

Ambassador Thomas ’78 to grads: How will you use the ‘gift of a Holy Cross education?’
May 27th, 2016 by 

In his address at the College’s 170th Commencement Exercises held on May 27, Harry K. Thomas Jr. ’78, the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe, exhorted graduates to use the “gift of a Holy Cross education” to benefit the greater good.

A total of 699 men and women were awarded Bachelor of Arts degrees before family and friends of the graduates, Holy Cross faculty, administrators, staff and honored guests at the DCU Center in Worcester.

Before continuing with his charge to the class of 2016, Thomas, with graduates to his back, took a moment to “take the largest selfie Holy Cross has ever seen” from the podium.

Thomas, who has also served as U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines and to Bangladesh during his 32-year diplomatic career, said he has used his gift to protect America, open markets for American businesses, and combat HIV/AIDS, among other efforts.

“At Holy Cross, thanks to the Montserrat program you have had the opportunity to exchange ideas and even argue with your fellow students while remaining friends,” said Thomas, who also received an honorary degree. “The easiest thing is to see what is wrong with the other person without noticing what is wrong with ourselves. We all have stories to tell, tears to shed, and laughter to share.

“And that is what we do at Holy Cross. We talk, we explain, we listen. We respect opposing views. We take risks. We innovate. We iterate. We fall down and we rise again.

“What are you going to do with a Holy Cross education? Our faith, our Jesuit training with its focus on respect for other religions, tolerance for differing opinions and support for universal education tells us to work to make the world better.”

Throughout his speech, Thomas sprinkled names of Holy Cross alumni who have used their gifts to make a positive difference in the world.

Graduating senior Emily Conn, an English major in the College Honors Program, spoke on many of the same themes in her valedictory address. The Melrose, Mass., native said Holy Cross has offered members of the class opportunities that challenged their perspectives, conversations that caused them to think deeper about their choices and values, and experiences that altered the way they see both themselves and their places in the world. In her case, her life-changing moment came during a Spring Break Immersion community outreach project in Ivanhoe, Va.

“This place has asked us to consider who we are, who we will become, and who we will be for others. Professors, mentors and friends have encouraged us to step outside of our experiences and to see life through the eyes of another. We have been given countless opportunities and learned innumerable lessons. And we have come to discover that being a Holy Cross student is about so much more than academics and extracurricular activities. It is about critically and compassionately engaging with the world around us in order to discover who we hope to be.”

Conn is headed to San Jose, Calif., where she will join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and work at Sacred Heart Community Service.

In addition to Thomas, Holy Cross awarded honorary degrees to Ann Dowd ’78, who has worked steadily as an actress on stage, in film, and on series television for more than 30 years, and Richard J. O’Reilly, M.D., ’64, a world-renowned pioneer in the development of bone marrow transplantation techniques as a lifesaving treatment of bone marrow deficiencies, leukemia, and other blood disorders.

Commencement Coverage


Media Coverage

Photo Galleries

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016


Friday, May 27, 2016

Addresses, Homilies and Remarks

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016

Honorary Degrees – Citation Text


Social Media Coverage

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

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