405 Graduate Students Receive Master's Degrees During Cap-And-Gown Ceremony At Fairfield University

24-May-2011 | News-Press Release

FAIRFIELD, Conn., May 22, 2011 - Decked out in black gowns and adorned mortar boards, students across Connecticut, and as far away as Nepal and Pakistan, said they felt excited as they prepared to usher in a new phase of their lives. Four hundred and five students were awarded master’s degrees, and 22 students received their advance study certificates at Fairfield University’s 61st commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 22 at Bellarmine Hall lawn.

Despite the wet weather conditions in the morning, university officials decided to hold the ceremony outside as scheduled. It proved to be the right call, as it stopped raining just in time for students to receive their graduate diplomas during the afternoon ceremony. It was the third time in Fairfield’s history that a separate commencement ceremony was held for graduate students. This year also marked an impressive 30 percent increase in students receiving their master’s degree from Fairfield University. Commencement for undergraduates took place in the morning.

Before the several hundred graduates were given their degrees, Jessica Viner, who delivered the class address, said: “Milestones such as this naturally lend themselves to reflection on where we’ve been and the journey that lies ahead.  No doubt, this graduate degree will help each of us to further our careers and intellectual pursuits, but there is something very uniquely different about a Jesuit education that you signed up for when you came to Fairfield.”

Toward the end of her speech, Viner asked her classmates to examine how they would measure success. “It’s not by the amount of money we make, but by the positive impact we have on those around us. By striving to improve who we are as individuals, by treating one another with dignity and respect, and by living out our vocation with passion and courage,” she said.

A resident of Greenwich, Connecticut, Viner, received her master’s degree in business administration from the Charles F. Dolan School of Business.

In his commencement address to the graduate degree candidates, Navy Rear Admiral Brian Monahan, who is the attending physician for the United States Congress and United States Supreme Court, explained that receiving a Jesuit education also means that you are called to be men and women for others. “What that means is your academic achievement brings with it a responsibility to examine social systems critically, and to become directly involved with those who are underprivileged and underserved,” he said.

As is customary at a commencement, the guest speaker undoubtedly provides the graduating class with some poignant advice on life. Nearly 1000 guests listened to Rear Admiral Monahan say people who get their names on buildings are real people, reflecting on their spiritual and moral responsibilities, doing their jobs to the best of their abilities, and who always say, “yes” to an opportunity to teach someone else.

Monahan also encouraged the graduates to repay the kindness of their professors and mentors at Fairfield by mentoring others. “I hope you will remember to integrate the intellectual and the spiritual aspects of your future achievements, and I hope you succeed beyond your expectations and look back on your life with wonder,” he said. 

A native of Fairfield, Connecticut, Monahan’s road to the U.S. Capitol started at Fairfield University, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1982. During Sunday’s ceremony, the university presented Rear Admiral Monahan with an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

As the ceremony came to a close, Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., urged graduates to engage with the world in a transformative manner, and to make that world a more just and compassionate place. “We hope as you go forward that you will remember how the education you received here has made you the person that you are: an integrated person and a person of integrity,” he said. “As your teachers and supporters, we have asked you to reach for the highest standards, to reach for ‘the more.’ We have also asked you during your time here to look into your own hearts. We have asked you to discern that along with the privilege of education comes the obligation to be of service to those who need what you have to give.”

 The Jesuit-based university offers a variety of graduate degree programs from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Dolan School of Business, The School of Nursing, the School of Engineering, and the School of Education and Allied Professions.



Fairfield University is a Jesuit University, rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from 36 states, 47 foreign countries, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are enrolled in the University’s six schools.  In the spirit of rigorous and sympathetic inquiry into all dimensions of human experience, Fairfield welcomes students from diverse backgrounds to share ideas and engage in open conversations. The University is located in the heart of a region where the future takes shape, on a stunning campus on the Connecticut coast.

                                                            Vol. 43, No. 309

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