On May 15, Anna Maria College celebrated its 2023 Commencement Ceremony at the DCU Center in Worcester. Nearly 300 students saw the results of their hard work and perseverance as they received their degrees.  

Commencement began with a rendition of the National Anthem performed by Chloe Panico from the Class of 2023 who earned her Bachelor of Arts in Music Education. 

Anna Maria College’s 11th president, Mary Lou Retelle, recognized the graduates’ accomplishments while highlighting the College’s values and the social impact alumni have on their communities.   

“You were challenged in your years at Anna Maria, and you met those challenges as evidence here today,” President Retelle said to the Class of 2023, “The journey to the finish line – as in all major life goals – is not always easy. Today you celebrate earning your degree – be it a bachelor’s or master’s degree – it is part of your life story now and one that I hope you are proud of. Anna Maria will be a part of your foundation.” 

Student Speaker, Meghan Sonia’s focused on “Ohana”, the Hawaiian word for family which shaped her Anna Maria College experience. The Nursing major from Martha’s Vineyard was heavily involved on campus, not just in her dedication to the nursing program and as a member of the Iota Phi at-Large nursing honors society, but in her athletic journey as a member of both the ice hockey and field hockey teams. After graduation, Meghan plans on returning for one more semester to earn a minor in Psychology and finish a 5th year on Anna Maria’s field hockey team before beginning her career in Boston as an emergency nurse.  

“Anna Maria was not just a school. This was a campus that provided us opportunities for growth. This was a campus that gave us the freedom to express who we are, and most importantly, this was a campus that allowed us to develop the powerful lifelong friendships we cherish and will maintain with us as we continue our journeys through life. So, thank you all for being my Ohana,” Sonia said to her fellow graduating classmates.   

During the 2023 Commencement Ceremony, two honorary degrees were conferred. Sister Carol Proietti, of the Sisters of St. Anne, Anna Maria College’s founding order, and an alumna of Anna Maria College was posthumously awarded a Doctor of Education for her legacy of teaching literature, English, and journalism in schools throughout Central Massachusetts and for championing social issues.   

Business executive and investor, Peter Caparso, was presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration for his decades of entrepreneurship and his leadership in the ever-changing world of e-commerce. He credited his success to a strong foundation of faith and family.   

“I have for the most part lived my life under the following principals: believe and advocate for yourself, ask the question, treat other people fairly, and be present in the moment as you never know when an opportunity will present itself,” Caparso advised the next generation of Anna Maria graduates.  

Anna Maria College recognized three graduates who achieved superlatives in academics, community, and service to others.   

Criminal Justice & Law major Allene L. Martin ‘23 was awarded the Bishop Timothy J. Harrington Award for compassionate service towards others and for promoting peace. The Sr. Yvette Bellerose Award was presented to Fire Science graduate Julia Smith ‘23 for embodying Anna Maria’s values and serving as a role model to other students. The Dr. Bernadette Madore Award for Academic Excellence was bestowed upon Benedetto Daniele Mazzotta Iaboni ‘23, an accelerated student who double majored in Business and Digital Marketing and is currently a graduate student in Anna Maria’s MBA program.  

The Baccalaureate Mass, Hooding ceremony for the senior class, pinning ceremonies for Nursing and Social Work graduates, and a champagne brunch for families were held on campus prior to the Commencement Ceremony.   

Congratulations Class of 2023!  

Click the Telegram and Gazette link here for local news coverage of Anna Maria College’s 74th Commencement.   

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