Holy Cross Celebrates 178th Commencement

The 178th Commencement Ceremony for the College of the Holy Cross was held on Friday, May 24, 2024 at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA. (Photo by Matt Wright for Holy Cross)

Space Scientist Dr. Laurie Leshin Delivers the Commencement Address to 751 Graduating Seniors

The College of the Holy Cross conferred 751 bachelor of arts degrees at its 178th commencement exercises this morning at the DCU Center. Dr. Laurie Leshin, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and former president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, delivered this year's address to the Class of 2024 and received an honorary degree.

In her remarks, Leshin spoke about the forward-looking, visionary pioneers who have paved the way for space exploration success throughout the years, and stressed the importance of being audacious and pushing boundaries.

“So this is my challenge to you, Class of 2024 – to dare mighty things together,” said Leshin. “You certainly inherit an imperfect world. A planet, a society, with flaws. But I have faith in you.

“You have the vision. You have the intelligence, and the drive. And if you can you think big, pursue audacious ideas, and do so with passion and commitment, mind-blowing things are possible.”

College President Vincent D. Rougeau lauded the newly-minted graduates of the Class of 2024 for their resourcefulness in the face of unpredictable changes over the past four years on The Hill, and encouraged them to be people for and with others.

“As you prepare to leave us, please share what you have learned here,” said Rougeau. “Continue to be other-focused. Carry the Jesuit ideals of compassion, understanding and empathy forward. Trust in your capacious ability to navigate change and difficulty. Continue to find and share in joy and care, even when the moment might fall short of your expectations.”

Holy Cross President Vincent Rougeau presents graduates with their diplomas during the college’s 178th commencement exercises at the DCU Center on Friday, 24 2024. (Matt Wright for Holy Cross)
Dr. Laurie A. Leshin, Ph.D. was invited by the College of the Holy Cross to deliver the commencement address during the 178th commencement exercises at the DCU Center on Friday, 24 2024. Dr. Leshin was presented with an honorary degree by President Vincent Rougeau. (Matt Wright for Holy Cross)

Graduating senior Kevin Hamilton ‘24, a political science and Spanish double-major from Chelmsford, Mass., delivered the valedictory address. 

In his speech, Hamilton encouraged his peers to seek out “thin places” in their lives, those places where the barrier between the ordinary and the extraordinary becomes so thin that they blend together as one. 

“May you become leaders in your communities, lifting up the voices of those who remain unheard, and may you seek to be known, not for your accolades, but for your dedication to hard work and the sincerity of your smile,” said Hamilton. “Wherever you lead, may the ordinary transcend. For in the ordinary, know that you are the extraordinary.”

Following graduation, Hamilton plans to pursue a career in higher education, either in academia or administration. 

In addition to Leshin, Holy Cross also awarded an honorary degree to Rev. Paul F. Harman, S.J., a longtime Holy Cross administrator who played a key role in the College’s transition to coeducation 50 years ago.