University News

Centennial Undergraduate Commencement

Published: May 20, 2019 | Categories: Business, All News, Arts and Sciences, Alumni, Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Engineering
Kevin Delbridge speaking at 2019 Undergraduate Commencement

With pomp and circumstance, pride and confidence, as well as a nod to the institution's rich 100-year history, Western New England University welcomed 572 newly minted graduates into the ranks of alumni during Undergraduate Commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 18.

"You are our Centennial graduates. You have been a fundamental part of our historic first century," said University President Dr. Anthony S. Caprio, addressing those graduating 100 years after the institution's founding in 1919. "You have helped make the University what it is today, and as alumni you will represent us as we all move into our bright future."

"The emotions filling this space today run the gamut: joy, sadness, happiness, excitement, love, pride, and so much more," Caprio told the thousands of graduates and guests gathered in the University's Alumni Healthful Living Center.

In the emotion-filled day, the longest and loudest ovation was for a graduate missing from the celebration. Henry R. Wix of Granby, Conn., was just a few weeks from walking down the aisle with his classmates when he suffered a fatal brain aneurysm.

"Henry was a great student – a person of integrity and kindness," Caprio noted about the mathematics major and ROTC cadet. "Henry had so much life in him, and he shared it so spontaneously and generously with us."

Wix was posthumously awarded his Bachelor of Science in Mathematical Sciences with a Minor in History.

Kevin S. Delbridge, senior advisor at Boston-based HarbourVest Partners, served as the Centennial Commencement speaker. Delbridge noted that much has changed about the University and the world since he graduated from Western New England in 1977, particularly the speed of communication.

"Because communication is so fast and widespread, we hear a lot about successes, especially mega success," said Delbridge. "Those successes should be recognized. However, for the vast majority of us, success takes time."

Channeling his own inner "Golden Bear," Delbridge offered advice that the University's mascot "Spirit" might offer – be thick skinned, be fearless, sniff out opportunities, and finally, live large and keep it cool.

"Every single event, whether positive or negative, offers you the opportunity to make it a learning experience and to show you the path forward."

With graduates representing 18 states and dozens of fields of study, student commencement speaker Kenneth J. Stratton noted that while each graduate's journey was different, a common bond now joins them all.

"If there is one thing I've learned after my four years of study here, it's that today is a beginning," said the native of Southwick, who plans to enroll in the University's School of Law in the fall.

"No matter how our Western New England experiences turned out, no matter how much they differed, we all leave here with something in common: we are, and will forever be, Golden Bears."

Besides serving as student commencement speaker, Stratton was recognized as one of two winners of the Alumni Award, presented to the graduating senior with the highest overall grade point average. Stratton shared the award with Chelsie L. Raleigh, a Civil Engineering graduate from East Longmeadow, Mass. Each achieved a 4.0 grade point average.

View the album: Undergraduate Commencement 2019 on the Western New England University Facebook page.