Share, email, print, bookmark SOURCE reports.

The crowd at Commencement. Students at Framingham State Commencement. Commencement speaker Ayanna Pressley. WORCESTER – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley urged Framingham State University’s graduating class of 2023 to be their authentic selves and take up space in the world during a packed ceremony at the DCU Center on Sunday, May 21st.

“When I was your age I apologized about everything,” Pressley said. “I apologized because my name was hard for some people to pronounce. I apologized if I asked too many questions and was too inquisitive. I apologized if my truth telling made people uncomfortable. I apologized if my curves took up too much space. I was always shrinking. But I need all of you to take up space. Create space. Take up space in your unique greatness. Know that your path to greatness begins first, by being fully, authentically, and unapologetically you.”

Pressley, the first woman of color from Massachusetts ever elected to Congress, told the graduates she admires their generation for speaking out about the major issues facing the United States today, including gun violence and the Climate Crisis.

“Your generation has remained focused on advocating, organizing,” she said. “I continue to be blown away not just by your talents in the classroom but your concern and empathy for one another and future generations.”

The University conferred a Doctor of Public Service degree upon Pressley during the ceremony. A total of 667 students received their undergraduate degrees.

Framingham State University President Nancy Niemi told the graduates that their education has provided them with the power of intellectual curiosity.

“In you now, as part of YOU, are ways of seeing that will change the world because you have changed your perspective,” Niemi said. “In you now are skills that will allow you to perform new jobs or broaden existing ones, allowing wherever you work to succeed and grow. In you now is the power of intellectual curiosity: not only do you have questions – you know how to look for answers.”
Class President Dara Barros talked about her journey from being born in Cabo Verde off the west coast of Africa, to meeting her mother for the first time when she moved to Brockton, MA, and eventually getting accepted to Framingham State.

“Being a student at FSU has helped me find myself and be true to who I am, exactly what “Living to the Truth” means to me,” Barros said. “At orientation, all the Black and Gold Leaders told us their stories. It was there that I learned about the opportunities FSU had. As a first-generation student, I did not know much about the college experience, so I created one of my own and became a student leader.”

The University’s President’s Medal – which is the highest award given by the Office of the President to someone who has consistently supported FSU and its students – was presented to Professor Emerita Arlene Handschuch, who taught for 35 years in the Fashion Design and Retailing Department. Upon her retirement, Handschuch endowed a scholarship that continues to support students in need.
The University’s Citizen’s Laureate Award was presented to Helen Lemoine, the longtime director of Leadership MetroWest.

Earlier in the weekend, the University held two Hooding Ceremonies on campus in the Dwight Hall Performing Arts Center to celebrate this year’s 446 Master’s Degree recipients. FSU alumna Marcie Mills ‘83 gave the keynote speech, imploring graduates to use their intellect and success to do things that matter in the world.

“Feed the hungry, house the homeless, run for office, pass a bill, change a law, clean up the great Pacific garbage patch,” Mills said. “Make a film that tells an important story, mentor young people, create a scholarship – do something that matters, that will make the planet a better place for your having been here.”