Franklin Pierce University Celebrates Graduates at 58th Commencement Exercises
May 13, 2023
Graduates of the Class of 2023, faculty, staff, and guests gathered on Saturday, May 13, 2023, to celebrate the 58th Commencement at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H. President Kim Mooney ’83 welcomed all the graduates as well as families, friends, alumni, members of the Board of Trustees, honored guests, and those viewing the ceremony via livestream.
“Welcome and congratulations to the Class of 2023. Today you will take significant steps at Franklin Pierce because as you walk across the stage this morning, just as I did 40 years ago in May of 1983, you will join me as a proud alum of this University,” said President Mooney. “As a University community, we celebrate having had the privilege to educate you and, indeed, to learn from you. The Class of 2023, all of you, you are Raven Nation at its best.”
As part of this year’s ceremony, the University bestowed two honorary doctoral degrees and presented the Honorable Walter R. Peterson Citizen Leader Award.
Leading diversity, equity, and inclusion scholar Dr. Tia Brown McNair was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Dr. McNair currently serves as the vice president in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and as executive director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Campus Centers at the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, D.C. Through her work with AAC&U, Dr. McNair’s thought leadership ensures student success has transformed the approaches higher education institutions take, from being passive players in equity efforts to proactive participants in student learning with inclusive excellence as a focus. New Hampshire colleges and universities, including Franklin Pierce University, have benefited from Dr. McNair’s expertise.
“I am sincerely humbled and honored by this recognition,” shared Dr. McNair in her remarks. “Graduates, as you enter your next phase in life, please remember that our journeys are interconnected and there is enough in this world for you to receive your blessings and enough for your friends and your colleagues to receive theirs, without us being at odds. Nurture your relationships, value difference, embrace your narrative, and listen deeply to the narratives of those around you. And when circumstances challenge you, turn to a place of reflection first. Pause, and then act.”
Prominent attorney and business executive Steven V. Camerino was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. He is dedicated to service and sharing his time and talents with a host of organizations, including Franklin Pierce University’s Board of Trustees where he served as a member of the for 10 years from 2012 to 2022, and from 2016 to 2019 as Chair of the Board. In this role, Mr. Camerino offered selfless leadership in navigating an ever-changing higher education landscape. Today, he is the Chief Executive Officer of McLane Middleton, responsible for overseeing the operational, financial marketing, and human resource functions of the firm. Mr. Camerino is widely recognized and respected as an expert in the energy and public utilities field, previously serving as president and CEO of the New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC). He is an esteemed recipient of the New Hampshire Bar Association’s L. Jonathan Ross Award for Legal Services to the Poor.
“Graduating from college or graduate school is a great achievement to be sure. And for many of you, today likely marks the end of your formal education,” said Camerino. “Equally important, however, it marks the day when responsibility for your education shifts definitively and almost exclusively to you, from the teachers who nurtured your growth along the way. Don’t forget to listen. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn simply by listening, really listening, especially to those you think have it wrong.”
The Honorable Walter R. Peterson Citizen Leader Award was created to honor the late governor and second president of Franklin Pierce and his lifelong commitment to public service and higher education in the state of New Hampshire. This year’s award was presented to writer, educator, and community activist JerriAnne Creary Boggis. Ms. Boggis has served for the last decade as executive director of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire, an organization that preserves, celebrates, and honors African American history in the state. Through her perseverance and persistence, she works to correct the historical record on the racial complexity and richness of New Hampshire’s diverse past. She is also the founder and director of The Harriet Wilson Project, which is devoted to honoring the New Hampshire native, who was the first Black woman in the United States to publish a novel. Ms. Boggis is the recipient of numerous awards. In 2020, she was listed as one of the 10 most influential women of the century in New Hampshire by the Seacoast Press.
Harkening back to the words of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Boggis reminded the Class of 2023 that “we’re all called to serve and we can all serve in whatever way we are able. When that hand of fate touches you, you need to answer that call.”
The University was proud to confer 465 degrees, including doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees. Among the students recognized was valedictorian Kelly Hayes. Originally from Belmont, New Hampshire, Kelly majored in English and Secondary Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), with a certificate in Women, Gender, and Leadership. She is member of the Franklin Pierce University Honors Program, Phi Lambda Theta Education Honor Society, and the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, for which she acted as the Iota Omega FPU Chapter President and Eastern Region Student Representative in 2022. Kelly plans to work in education and library sciences, where she hopes to teach middle or high school students and possibly work in a school library to teach children about the importance of literature in their everyday lives.
“Franklin Pierce University is a community of communities, tied together not only by leadership and membership, but by uniting in their challenges of the status quo, their fights for places of free and meaningful expression, and their desire to learn from one another,” reflected Hayes. “I would like to thank my professors, the staff, my advisors, club and class leadership, my friends, my grandmothers and grandfathers, my brother Thomas aka Bubba, my mother Judy, and my father Tim for every opportunity for knowledge and all the love and support. I would like to conclude with a quote from my grandfather, Donald Hayes Sr., that I carry with me as each of those named prior guide me and the FPU student body into the next parts of our lives, ‘The truly educated man, never graduates.’ Thank you!”
A recording of the Commencement Ceremony and photos from the event will be available for viewing at franklinpierce.edu/commencement.