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Led into their graduation ceremony by a bagpiper in full tartan regalia and supported by the cheers of family and friends, 430 Nichols students received their degrees Saturday morning under a sprawling tent set up for the occasion on the College’s softball field.
Prior to the awarding of degrees—which included 82 Masters of Business Administration and 10 Masters of Organizational Leadership—renowned Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy addressed the audience.
The graduates also heard from President Susan West Engelkemeyer, who presented their individual diplomas, as well as senior valedictorian Stephen Carella and senior class president Andrew Gresenz.
Engelkemeyer, in her first Nichols commencement as president, told the students, “Even though I have only known you for a short time, I relish the opportunity to celebrate with you. The best is yet to come.”
Shaughnessy was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. He was introduced by Thomas Hall ’69, the vice chairman of the Nichols Board of Trustees and a Nichols classmate of Shaughnessy’s older brother William, also from the Class of ’69.
“Many of us grew up with the Saturday afternoon television staple Wide World of Sports, which promised to show viewers ‘the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,’” Hall noted. “Using your imagination and prose, you have fulfilled that promise, and much more.”
In an address that mixed humor with a more serious look at the road ahead, Shaughnessy told the graduates, “You don’t need me to tell you that it’s a brutal job market out there. I can tell you not to be too easily discouraged.”
Shaughnessy, who in his 23 years as a Globe columnist has been recognized nine times by the Associated Press Sports Editors as one of the top 10 sports columnists in the country, pointed out that his career did not start out auspiciously.
As an undergraduate at Holy Cross, he explained to laughs from the audience, he contributed to the school’s alumni magazine only to be told by the editor, “I can’t understand why someone who cannot write would want to be a newspaper reporter.”
“It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be an adventure,” Shaughnessy continued. “Follow your heart.”
In his speech, valedictorian Carella admitted, “I used to be afraid of change, afraid of making mistakes, afraid of losing, and even afraid of succeeding,” adding that “the Nichols community is the ideal setting to overcome self-doubt. I have never been around so many people willing to face the challenges around them. That’s why I am proud to be a member of this class.”
Shortly after the ceremony, Carella, the captain of the Nichols men’s tennis team, and four fellow seniors reappeared on the courts about 100 yards away, leading the squad to the Commonwealth Coast Conference title in a 5-1 victory over Roger Williams.
More than two dozen of the graduating seniors also received individual awards for their academic accomplishments, including Caroline Monroe, for best overall achievement; Kevin Richardson, for character and citizenship; and Joseph Fusco III, for the most significant improvement by a student at Nichols.
Kathleen Ells won the Award for Academic Excellence in the Nichols graduate program.