May 16, 2024
Olivia Boudreau

107th Undergraduate Commencement Celebrates Class of 2024

On Sunday, May 12, the Assumption community, along with distinguished guests, family, and friends, gathered in the DCU Center to celebrate the academic achievements of the class of 2024. 

415 students graduated in the Class of 2024, earning 485 baccalaureate degrees, with 69 graduates achieving double majors and one achieving a triple major. Students from eighteen states and territories and four countries outside the United States were represented in the graduating class. 

Honorary degrees were bestowed upon Dr. Aaron Dominguez, Provost and Professor of Physics at the Catholic University of America; Michael Collins, M.D., Chancellor of UMass Chan Medical School; and Robert DeMott, Ph.D., a member of Assumption’s class of 1965 and scholar of the works of novelist John Steinbeck. 

After an introduction from Provost Marc Guerra, an invocation from Rev. Chi Ai Nguyen, and the National Anthem sung by the Assumption University Chorale, President Greg Weiner gave opening remarks to the crowd. Weiner spoke of Assumption graduates having intellectual courage and humility, the eagerness and boldness to ask big questions, and the importance of ignorance as a strength rather than a weakness.

“I hope we have imparted to you intellectual courage, intellectual humility, and intellectual charity. They are the hallmarks of a successful Catholic liberal education, and they are latent in two of the most important words you have heard at Assumption: ‘until’ and ‘pursuit’,” said Weiner. “Our motto is ‘until Christ be formed in you,’ because we are all unfinished works, and we speak of the ‘pursuit of truth in the company of friends,’ because none of us claims to possess it entirely – for what is friendship but a joyful embrace of the gift of needing one another?” 

“Look at this sea of Assumption graduates, people who are curious and courageous, who listen, who learn, who act with conviction and humility,” Weiner also said in his remarks. “They are rising leaders who possess grit and lack entitlement. With our future in their hands, how could we feel anything but hope?” 

Following Weiner’s remarks, Emily Fasteson, the Class of 2024 Valedictorian, gave the ceremony’s Valedictory address, speaking to her classmates and Commencement guests about the importance of the Catholic liberal education she and her classmates have received, and how it has deeply connected all of them, embedding them within the Assumption community.

“We do our best work when we are surrounded by a community of people that know and care about us. Our education reveals to us that we are made to be with other people,” said Fasteson. “This is one of the most fundamental truths of a Catholic liberal education: we are made for connection.” 

Fasteson also emphasized the importance of truth and how graduates must now share the gifts they have received through their education with the world.

“The Catholic liberal education that Assumption offers is a gift and a privilege, and it is not just for ourselves. We must continue to share the gift of our education through our witness well beyond graduation. We are called to be witnesses to the truth in all that we do,” said Fasteson. “The world needs each of our contributions because there is something unique that each person reveals about the truth that only he or she can reveal. The deepest calling of our education is to pursue the truth and commit to living it. However, we cannot live our individual callings on our own. Each of us in the class of 2024 must work together as we strive to live out and fulfill the call of our Catholic liberal education to pursue the truth in the company of friends so that our lives may bear fruit.”

Salutatorian Shaeleigh Boynton introduced the 2024 Commencement speaker, Dr. Aaron Dominguez. 

“As I look out and see my fellow Hounds, I am in the company of thought leaders, risk takers, and a group of graduates whose depth of perseverance is never ending. These qualities have propelled us to this point in our academic journeys. As graduates, we will face many unknowns in our future, and it is normal to ask ‘why?’ about the challenging obstacles put before us,” said Boynton. “Our distinguished Commencement Speaker, Dr. Aaron Dominguez, knows a lot about asking ‘why?’, as it is rooted in his career.”

Dominguez spoke to the class of 2024 about the distinct importance of a Catholic liberal education and how curiosity is a major part of how students, and everyone in the audience, can participate in what God has planned for all of us.

“There’s something within us that wants to know, wants to explore,” said Dominguez. “By orienting our efforts, our very lives towards these good things, we are literally participating in God’s plan for us. That’s what a Catholic education is for. This is what it has given you. It leads you closer to God by participating in his plan, finding what is good, beautiful, and true.”

Dominguez emphasized his point about the impact of faith on academics by discussing his research on the recently discovered Higgs boson particle, and how in a way it was a search for the truth that unified each of the scientists in a sense of joy and awe.

“The reason for doing this, the true motivation, was the acknowledgment of and the search for a profound truth about how the universe works at a fundamental level from the beginning of time and space until now and into the future. This is a very, very Catholic thing to do,” Dominguez said. “Searching for something this tiny, the tiniest structure of the universe, was something in a very real sense that was much larger than all of us. That search for the truth is what unified us and made it possible. We needed our friendship, we needed each other to make this happen.”

To close his remarks, Dominguez advised the class of 2024 that Commencement is not the end of their journey, but the beginning, and that the Catholic education they have received will help prepare them for their lives ahead.

“As we finish this commencement exercise today, we’re not ending something. You are commencing the next step,” said Dominguez. “Catholic education gives us these examples in a roadmap for how to orient our lives from now on to bring the love of Christ into the world by sanctifying the work that we do. That’s what happiness is.” 

After the Commencement Address, the Honorary Degrees were presented to Dominguez, Collins, and DeMott, followed by the conferral of degrees to the class of 2024. 

Students finally were welcomed into the Assumption Alumni Association by Vice President for University Advancement, Jill Wierbicki Abrahams. 

“You are the living example of the impact that an Assumption education can have on your future. Greyhounds as a breed are quite gentle, noble, and independent, but are open and friendly to others. As I walk around campus, I realize that our Assumption Greyhounds embody all of those treasures,” said Abrahams. “Assumption Greyhounds spend their time learning and growing in the company of friends, and as a result, they never truly leave your hearts, our minds, or our home. We are proud of you, and you’ll always have a home at 500 Salisbury Street.”