By Michael B. Murphy
At the 2014 Winter Commencement Ceremony, family, friends and faculty watched Framingham State University officials bestow degrees upon 570 FSU students in Dwight Hall Performing Arts Center on Feb. 8.
Of the 570 graduates, 301 received bachelor’s degrees and 269 were awarded master’s degrees.
Much smaller than the annual graduation ceremony held in the spring, FSU’s Winter Commencement Ceremony is an annual event held for students who have met the requirements for their degrees during the summer, fall and winter.
Many of the speakers at the ceremony stressed the importance of continued learning and emphasized there would be further obstacles to overcome on the journey of life.
Interim President Robert Martin said while he hoped the graduates would look back at their time spent at FSU fondly, the university will have failed them “if you look back at your time here as the best time in your life.”
Martin said he hoped the graduates had acquired an intellectual curiosity while at FSU – something he hoped students would continue to cultivate for the rest of their lives.
“College is in fact just the beginning of your life journey,” he said. “Embrace the many challenges and opportunities that lay ahead of you.
“The best is yet to come,” he said.
Dr. George Jarnis, the Undergraduate Commencement Speaker at the ceremony and a professor emeritus at FSU, said, “I do not plan on imparting pearls of wisdom. I believe that is better left to fortune cookies.”
However, Jarnis told the graduates it was important they remain actively engaged in the journeys ahead of them.
“Life is not a spectator sport. ... Life is something that must be experienced,” he said.
Because the graduates will continue to grow and be challenged throughout their lifelong journey of learning, Jarnis said it was important to appreciate the accomplishment the students had achieved by graduating from a university.
He said the graduates and FSU should “bask in this moment” because “it is an acknowledgment of success.”
Referring to FSU’s approaching 175th anniversary, Jarnis said the most important success the institution can have is the graduation of its students.
“You, the class of 2014,” he said, “are a success story.”
Larnel Jones, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication arts, said the ceremony felt fast-paced, but he enjoyed the intimacy the small size of the event provided.
“It was a complete inversion of what I’ve seen at previous commencement ceremonies,” Jones said.
“Normally, you see virtually the entire world there, out on the lawn, but for this, it was all indoors and quiet,” said Jones. “It allowed for more individual attention.”
When asked how he felt having graduated, Jones said, “It was a relief, albeit slightly anti-climatic.
“I’m happy the six-year odyssey is over. ... Even though I missed being able to share this moment with my close friends from FSU who have already graduated, it’s over and I’m happy it finally came to an end.”
Jones said he has started a job as a photographer at the TD Garden in Boston, but by this coming summer, he would like to strongly pursue a career in music under the moniker MC Larney.
Melinda Collins, who obtained a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art, said she appreciated how quickly the commencement ceremony proceeded compared to the spring graduation.
“I think it’s great we cut the time at least in half by graduating now,” Collins said.
It also helped, Collins added, that the ceremony’s speakers did a great job.
“I did not feel forced to laugh at the speakers’ jokes,” she said. “They were actually funny and not corny.”
Collins said, “It feels great to be a graduate. I am so happy to move on to the next chapter of my life.” However, she added she has already grown tired of people asking her what she has planned next.
“I hate the questions I keep getting – ‘What’s next?’ and ‘What do you want to do with your degree?’” she said, laughing.
Emily Morse, a business administration graduate, said she was excited about her future.
“I am very happy that I am graduated and the ceremony was great,” Morse said.
Samantha Hicks, who received a bachelor’s degree in English, said she enjoyed the Winter
“The ceremony was great,” Hicks said. “All of the graduating students were so excited for each other and there was a positive energy throughout the auditorium.”
Hicks added she was relieved to have graduated.
“Myself as well as my graduating class have worked so hard to get to this point.”
When asked what she’d like to accomplish next, Hicks said, “Right now, I am working full-time and am in the process of applying to grad school. I want to get my master’s in education.”
Deanna Collins, a Studio Art graduate, said, “The ceremony itself was nice. It was nice to see friends one last time and say goodbye to my favorite faculty and stag.”
Carey Scouler, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English, said, “I can’t believe I finally graduated.
“It was an awesome four and a half-years,” said Scouler of her time at FSU. “It was full of many ups and downs, and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my friends, family and the faculty at FSU.”
Scouler, who has been blind since birth, said, “I personally was nervous about graduating and walking across the stage independently,” but added, “All of the faculty and stag I worked with before the ceremony helped make my walk across the stage a moment I’ll never forget.”
[Editor’s note: Melinda Collins, Deanna Collins and Carey Scouler were former members of The Gatepost editorial board.]