Holy Cross announced 748 bachelor of arts degree candidates at its 175th commencement held in person this morning on the College's Fitton Field. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a career diplomat and Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, delivered this year's address virtually to the Class of 2021 and received an honorary degree.
Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president of the College, presided over the celebratory event, bestowing the honorary degrees and greeting each graduate as they crossed the stage.
A distinguished career diplomat with 35 years in the Foreign Service, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield reminded graduates that their education has equipped them to make a positive difference in the world and to do everything in their power to keep hope alive.
"Class of 2021: I have hope – I have light in my eyes – because of you," Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield told the graduates. "When I think of your promise, your potential, I swell with pride. With your Holy Cross mentors and role models by your side, I believe you will become men and women for others. I trust you will go where you are needed. And graduates, I know you will keep hope alive."
Graduating senior Emma Davison, a political science and Middle Eastern studies double major with a concentration in peace and conflict studies from West Caldwell, N.J., delivered the valedictory address.
In her speech, Davison encouraged fellow graduates to be open to new experiences and let their future actions become a "living prayer" of what they have learned on the Hill.
"When a transformative change occurs, like graduating, the question of 'where do we go from here?' often arises," said Davison. "Such a question need not be elusive, but inviting: an invitation to engage with the world around us, to experience with devotion, with intention and with joy. If we commit to accepting this invitation, the translation of our resultant experiences will swell, and joy will endure."
Following graduation, Davison will begin a full-time position as a Government Relations Associate with L3Harris Technologies, an aerospace and defense technology company that she first interned with as part of the College's Washington Semester Program. She plans to continue studying Arabic at the Middle East Institute and hopes to eventually attend graduate school to study evolving threats to international stability, including the climate crisis and nuclear proliferation.
In addition to Thomas-Greenfield, Holy Cross also awarded an honorary degree to Holy Cross alumnus Dr. Michael Collins '77, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and senior vice president for the health sciences for the University of Massachusetts. Dr. Collins also offered a reflection for the Class of 2021.
Separately, Reverend David Beckmann, one of the foremost U.S. advocates for people struggling with hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world, and Sister Donna Markham, president of Catholic Charities USA, will receive honorary degrees and speak during a special virtual Convocation event for the graduating Class of 2020 on May 22. An in-person celebration for the Class of 2020 is being planned for 2022.
- The Progress, May 19: CAMPUS CORNER: West Caldwell resident is valedictorian at College of Holy Cross
- Telegram & Gazette, May 21: In-person Holy Cross commencement 'surreal, considering we were on Zoom the entire time'
- Spectrum News 1, May 21: The College of the Holy Cross' Class of 2021 graduates nearly 750 students
- America Magazine, May 26: UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s commencement address to the Holy Cross Class of 2021