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Cambridge College 2018 Commencement Exercises Emphasize Commitment to Justice, Equity, and Inclusion

2018 Cambridge College Commencement
President Deborah C. Jackson addresses graduates and guests at the 2018 Commencement Exercises in Boston.

On Sunday, June 3, 2018, Cambridge College welcomed Eastern Bank Chair and Chief Executive Officer Robert F. Rivers as its keynote speaker and one of three honorary degree recipients for its 47th Commencement Exercises.  Nearly 500 graduates were awarded degrees from across the College’s undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs.

“Class of 2018, after all of your hard work, today is all about you.” said Cambridge College President Deborah C. Jackson.  “You have made many difficult choices and have faced challenges both routine and monumental to get to this day.  After enduring many long nights meeting deadlines and completing projects, in most cases after working a full day, you have made it to the end of one journey and soon will be embarking on the next.”

During his remarks, commencement speaker Bob Rivers reminded the graduates of the words and actions of Robert F. Kennedy, his namesake, and Martin Luther King, Jr., who cared deeply about social and economic justice and took action in their short lives to make our world a better place. Rivers charged the graduates to serve as agents for change in their communities, noting that while organizations are increasingly recognizing greater diversity as a moral and economic imperative, more needs to be done in embracing diversity and inclusion in the boards and senior leadership of companies as vital to long-term business success.  Rivers urged, “The impetus and instrument for such change will come from all of us here today. Here in lies your opportunity and responsibility for each of you to do what you can to be that tiny ripple of hope Robert Kennedy so famously spoke of. Aim high in your chosen field and your expectations of others and our society.”  Under Rivers’ leadership, Eastern has developed a Board and Management Committee comprised by 50% women, people of color, and/or those from the LGBTQ community. A video of his remarks can be seen here.

Undergraduate student speaker Sharlene Blake paid tribute to her late mother who worked at the Martin Luther King, Jr. School in Cambridge.  Quoting Barack Obama, she encouraged her fellow graduates to give back to others: “What matters is not wealth, but how well we have loved and the part we have played in making the lives of other people better.”

Graduate student speaker Cordero Slash spoke about his experiences growing up in the Greater Boston area that led him to pursue a Master’s in Education in Mental Health Counseling.  Cordero said, “Long before pursuing my degree in Mental Health Counseling and becoming a family counselor, both work and personal experiences had shaped my world view in such a way that I was painfully aware of how social constructs and the stigmas around mental health had impacted my life, my family, and the communities that I’ve worked in.”

Business leaders Yvonne Garcia and Karen Holmes Ward were also presented with honorary doctorate degrees.  Yvonne Garcia, Global Head of Client Solutions and Program Management Office at State Street Corporation, is a leading corporate voice for advancing causes and issues that are important to local and national Latino communities.  Karen Holmes Ward, WCVB’s Director of Public Affairs and Community Service and host of CityLine, uses her voice and reporting, spanning 30+ years, on behalf of underserved communities and issues that risk being silenced or ignored.

The commencement ceremonies ended with a special charge from President Jackson imploring graduates to choose wisely and with integrity as they move onto the next stage of their professional and academic journeys—to choose taking a stand for the things that matter most in life, and to choose to live a life filled with compassion and respect for others.    


About Cambridge College

Cambridge College is dedicated to providing academically excellent, time-efficient, and cost-effective higher education for a diverse population of adult learners for whom these opportunities may have been limited or denied.  Founded in 1971, Cambridge College is a private non-profit institution of higher education accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and all programs are authorized by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.  Recognized as a pioneer in providing quality affordable higher education to adult learners, Cambridge College offers flexible undergraduate and graduate degree programs across six locations nationwide in Cambridge, Springfield and Lawrence, MA; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Inland Empire, CA.  Its highly diverse student population consists of 68% females and 32% men with 63% of this population pursuing a degree part time on evenings and weekends.