Salve Regina graduates encouraged people to embrace the unexpected as they celebrated their 74th graduation


Today Dr. Kelli J. Armstrong, President, on the campus of Salve Regina University 530 bachelor's degrees to the class of 2024. A separate ceremony was held on Thursday, May 16, for recipients of graduate degrees – 271 master's degrees and 19 doctoral degrees and three Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. Overall, this year's graduating class of 823 students was the largest ever at the university.

In presenting the commencement address, renowned author, scholar, and policy analyst Susan Eisenhower spoke to graduates in connection with Salve's emphasis on leadership and service through compassion: “As you begin your post-graduation journey, embrace the unexpected—even the tasks that may come your way. First, be disappointed. Learn from them. Reflect. Don't beat yourself up by living so fast and ambitiously that you miss the lasting lessons you learn every day, no matter what the job or task. It will benefit you and all who will depend on you.”

To illustrate, she recounted how two of the least remembered aspects of Dwight D. Eisenhower's career proved crucial to his rise to become Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces and President of the United States.

The President of Salve Regina University, Dr. Kelli Armstrong, speaks to graduates during the 74th Commencement Ceremony in Newport. Photo by Andrea Hansen Photography Credit: Andrea Hansen

When “Ike” was assigned to train the U.S. military's first tank corps and then sent to Europe to write an army guide about the battlefields of France, he was disappointed that these “desk jobs” offered little-noticed opportunities for advancement. But he devoted himself fully to each role, and as history shows, the two roles came together at crucial moments and proved to be invaluable assets.

Eisenhower's most recent book, How Ike Led: The Principles Behind Eisenhower's Biggest Decisions, has received widespread national and international acclaim and highlights the qualities of successful leadership demonstrated by her grandfather. She is the founder of The Eisenhower Group, Inc., a Washington, DC-based consulting firm, and chair emeritus of the Eisenhower Institute. Eisenhower was a fellow at Harvard University's Institute of Politics and a distinguished fellow at the Nixon Center, now called the Center for the National Interest.

In addition to Eisenhower, the university also awarded honorary degrees to James T. Brett, president and CEO of the New England Council and former member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and Christine Kavanagh, RSM, president of ReFocus, Inc., honorary member of the Salve Board of Trustees, and to Gloria Purvis, an author, Catholic commentator, presenter and activist.

In her address, Armstrong also discussed the opportunities presented by unexpected events and praised this special class — many of whom missed high school milestone ceremonies and began college during the pandemic — for their resilience.

Salve Regina University graduates cheer on their classmates as they accept their diplomas during the 74th Commencement Ceremony in Newport. Photo by Andrea Hansen Photography Credit: Andrea Hansen

“It is amazing to see what you have accomplished and experienced while here at Salve,” she said. “What I am most proud of is that throughout your time you have never lost sight of those in need – our compassionate commitment to the community has been central to your life here. They have found ways to help others, especially the most vulnerable in our society, even in the midst of a pandemic. In a time when simply showing up and persevering was an achievement in itself, you have far exceeded expectations.”

U.S. Senator Jack Reed and Newport City Council Vice President Lynn Underwood Ceglie were on hand to offer congratulations. In his remarks, Senator Reed said, “I am confident that all of you in the Class of 2024 will find a way to make your mark and serve a purpose greater than yourself.” Our world needs your combination of knowledge now more than ever , talent and, above all, mercy.”

Cailin Aline Martin, one of four valedictorians in the primary school class of 2024, said in her address: “Our class inspires me and gives me hope for the future and the world, because Salve has given us endless opportunities as artists, athletes and scientists, but instead of themselves Focusing on personal gain, our class is committed to the critical causes of grace for the earth, immigration, anti-racism, women, and nonviolence. Our degrees prepared us for careers, while the Salve experience made us local and soon global community leaders.”

The other valedictorians were Sofia Elizabeth Abuin, Ashley Louise Lefebvre and Jessica Marie Roberts.

Concluding her address, Armstrong reminded the class, “We measure our success as an institution by the good you do in the world,” and encouraged them to hold on to what they have learned. “Use your gifts of grace education—of critical thinking, discernment, and love for your fellow human beings—to be the healer and voice of reason in places of turmoil.”

Source: Salve Regina University