On May 13, Anna Maria College celebrated its 75th Commencement at the DCU Center in Worcester. The Class of 2024 was awarded 319 degrees and included a highly diverse student body with graduates from all over the globe including Canada, Ghana, Kenya, Pakistan, Paraguay, Sweden, and Turkey.  (Watch the full ceremony or a highlights video.) 

Kayla Drew ‘25, a nursing student, sang the National Anthem after students and faculty processed down the red carpet.  

The opening remarks made by Anna Maria College’s 11th president, Mary Lou Retelle, focused on how Anna Maria graduates take their educational achievements and use them to positively impact other around them. Whether as social workers, police officers, firefighters, nurses, educators, business leaders, and more, the Class of 2024 is dedicated to public service.   

“Our strength and grandeur lie in the stories you will write – – defying odds, building legacies, and finding your voices. You reflect a vibrant tapestry of backgrounds and experiences, a microcosm of America’s strength. Our mission is more than imparting knowledge; it’s igniting potential. You responded to that mission by succeeding in your goal as you entered Anna Maria – to earn your degree and learn that serving the public good is for the good of all.” 

Student Speaker and Social Work student Shayla MacDonald ‘24 was very involved as a hockey player and tutor at Anna Maria’s Student Success Center. A Canadian citizen, Shayla spoke about the connections she formed on campus as she found a home away from home.  

“We all entered this community with heads full of steam and open hearts. These last four years we have seen each other succeed and flourish. Finding belonging, friendship, and community in a new setting came with practice, and we can all agree with that. We each came here to gain an education, and with that came an abundance of amazing things. During my four years here, I gained a new family who I know that I will cherish for a lifetime.” 

During the Commencement ceremony, three honorary degrees were conferred. Paul A. DiPierro, a member of Anna Maria’s Board of Trustees and Director of Sales at Lowell Corporation received an honorary Doctorate of Business Administration. John J. Spillane has been on Anna Maria’s Board of Trustees for 14 years and served as Chair of the Board from 2017 to 2023. In addition to his leadership at Anna Maria College, John is the managing partner of Spillane & Spillane. He was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws.  

President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Dr. Eric Dickson was conferred with an honorary Doctorate of Public Administration. Dr. Dickson is an impactful leader in the City of Worcester who oversees the largest not-for-profit health care system in Central Massachusetts with over $4.1 billion in annual revenue, 2,100 physicians, and 17,000 employees. Dr. Dickson knows the ripple effect that one person can have on the lives of others and shared his experiences with Anna Maria students during his Commencement Address.  

“…the goal is not to be used up, but rather, to run out of time fighting for something that matters to you. I don’t think Mother Theresa, or Ghandi, or Martin Luther King felt used up or burned out fighting for their mighty purposes, caring for the poor, striving for peace and racial equity. I think they just ran out of time. For me, I think the true joy in life is fighting for something you believe in. Staying attached to your mighty purpose doesn’t use you up. It gives you the fuel you need to keep going. So, what is your mighty purpose members of the Class of 2024?” 

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

Law & Society major Tiara S. Smith ‘24 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 Psychology major Haylee Walker ‘24 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 Mark Henry Cavallaro ‘24, a soccer-playing student-athlete who double majored in Business and Sports Management. All three award recipients were members of Anna Maria’s Honors program.  

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

The gallery below is a small sample of the moments captured at our 2024 Commencement Ceremony. Full galleries, along with video highlights will be available in the coming days. Please be sure to visit www.annamaria.edu/commencement for updates.

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