WORCESTER – Nearly 400 graduates received a bachelor’s degree during Assumption University’s 105th Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 8, at the DCU Center in downtown Worcester.
Larry Lucchino, Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer and chairman and principal owner of the Worcester Red Sox, delivered the commencement address, thanking the University for its partnership with the Worcester Red Sox and imparting upon the Class of 2022 advice gleaned over five decades in baseball and in law.
Natick students include:
- Diana Bruggeman
- Allison Collins
- Shayla DeGeorge
- Ava Onorato
“I am well aware that my presence here is a reflection of the close bond that has been quickly established between the Woo Sox and Assumption,” Lucchino said. “We share a commitment to serve this community and its people. We share a new ballpark where Assumption’s name is featured prominently. In fact, [Assumption’s] vision, your loyalty, and your early commitment helped pave the way for that ballpark and its extraordinary reception.”
Lucchino imparted that since his college graduation 55 years ago, he’s “learned a few things about what to do in life, and what not to do.” He admitted that as a baseball executive, he doesn’t have all the answers, but hoped his personal top ten list of life lessons amassed from over “four unexpected decades as a baseball executive, and several decades of errors, missteps, and regrets,” might help someone along the way. The lessons included having fun; being bold; smiling; being strong enough to say, “I don’t know”; remembering that life is too hard to be lived alone; working at friendship; seeking balance; remembering Jackie Robinson and the “catalytic effect one person can have on a community, on a nation, on a compelling cause, or on a nagging injustice”; embracing and celebrating “the pluralism and diversity that are the essence or American life”; and being a positive force in one’s community.
“Life is not about warming yourself by the fire, it’s about building the fire,” said Lucchino, a three-time cancer survivor who has invested himself in cancer research and care. “The match that lights that fire is generosity. To consider yourself and to be considered capable is good. To consider yourself and be considered loving is even better. But best of all is to know yourself as generous. Generosity is its own reward. There is a Chinese proverb that applies and roughly it says if you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help your brothers and sisters in the community.”
In his last commencement address, President Emeritus Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., who retired on June 30, congratulated the graduates for earning their degrees “in the midst of extraordinary circumstances.” He added that the pandemic provided them with “an education beyond what you could have learned in your coursework,” because the framework of the Catholic liberal education allowed students to use the pandemic as a learning experience.
“You learned that you have the ability to overcome adversity, to navigate the unexpected and to look for the positive in the midst of challenges,” he said. “You have shown yourself to be resilient despite the obstacles. You have learned the value of sacrificing one’s wants for the benefit of others, striving always for the common good. While you may not immediately perceive it, your characters are stronger, and you have become a better person because of what you have learned through the pandemic.”
In his valedictorian speech, Leominster native Nicholas Macchione ’22 compared an Assumption education to a Swiss army knife. “If you only could have one tool to serve you for the rest of your life, wouldn’t you want it to be applicable to whatever you might encounter? The same sentiment rings true in education,” he shared. “An Assumption liberal arts education is similarly suited to a wide variety of careers and vocations.”
Macchione encouraged his classmates that “in the world of specialization that requires elaborate job titles, obtuse degrees, and the labeling of so-called experts, let us take time to unfold our Swiss army knives, recall the things that have brought us to where we are today, and trust that they will continue to take us wherever we need to go.”
During the ceremony, honorary degrees were presented to Lucchino; Francesca “Paqui” Kelly, co-founder and board president of the Kelly Cares Foundation; and Wendy M. Wright, Ph.D., professor emerita of theology at Creighton University. The Board of Trustees also bestowed honorary degrees upon President Emeritus Cesareo and his wife, Filomena Cesareo, Esq., J.D., for their 15 years of service to Assumption.
Assumption University, founded in 1904 by the Augustinians of the Assumption, is New England’s premier university for high-quality education, integrating career preparation and education of the whole person, drawing upon the best in the rich and centuries-long tradition of Catholic higher education.
Assumption, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, seeks to provide students with a transformative education that forms graduates who possess critical intelligence, thoughtful citizenship, and compassionate service. The University offers 34 majors and 49 minors in the liberal arts, sciences, business, nursing and professional studies; as well as master’s and continuing education degrees and professional certificate programs.