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2017 JWU Providence Commencement Highlights

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5/24/17 | The roar of the crowd. The joy on every face. The closing of one chapter and the start of another. JWU Providence’s 2017 Commencement ceremonies had no shortage of laughter, tears and intense pride.

Graduate Ceremony: Step Up + Give Back
Commencement weekend kicked off with the graduate and doctoral ceremonies — held in the Dunkin' Donuts Center this year for the first time.

Speaker Neil D. Steinberg '14 Hon., president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, spoke of his own career path from finance to philanthropy, and emphasized how rewarding it is to make a difference: “Don’t just give — give back. Your time, treasure or talent for the greater good of the broader community.”

Steinberg also urged the new grads to hone their leadership skills: “Leaders are not anointed, they step up. Each of us can lead in our own way. Become educated on issues, develop informed opinions, have empathy and passion, and step forward, not back!”

A total of 344 graduate and doctoral degrees were awarded, including 15 EdDs, 24 new Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and 256 newly-minted MBAs.



Morning Ceremony: Aspirations Become Reality
Undergraduate students from the College of Arts & Sciences, College of Business, College of Engineering & Design, and College of Hospitality Management were the first to receive their degrees in JWU Providence’s morning ceremony.

Student speaker Rachel Davies '17 kept her brief speech focused firmly on a bright future: “Today truly marks a celebration. A mark in our lives where our aspirations become reality.”

She concluded: “Congratulations, fellow graduating Wildcats. Let’s get out there and create our own legacies.”


Congratulations, fellow graduating Wildcats. Let’s get out there and create our own legacies.” -RACHEL DAVIES '17

Afternoon Ceremony: Be Fierce + Courageous
In the afternoon, Deans Peter Lehmuller, EdD; Paul McVety '09 EdD; Cynthia L. Parker, EdD, and the faculty of the College of Culinary Arts and the School of Hospitality proudly presented their Classes of 2017.

Student speaker Samantha Riley '17 spoke of her own incredible pride at being a JWU graduate: “As soon-to-be industry leaders, we will have a part in changing the world. We have the ability to do just that through our work with food. It is something many of us have dreamed of achieving since a young age, back when our ovens were EasyBake and our food was plastic.”

She also spoke of hard work being rewarded: “Our determination, all-nighters, endless amounts of Providence Donuts + hard work have resulted in something momentous — becoming college graduates. As we venture out into the world, know that JWU has prepared us for this task ahead. Be fierce, be courageous, be a Wildcat!”

Honorary degree recipient Charles Royce of Royce Funds drew on his investing background to emphasize the importance of taking stock: “In my business, success is easily measured — what is the investment worth? What’s the return on that investment? In your world, we can ask the same questions. Was your time at JWU worth it? Have you developed skills that will bring you success?” Pause. “From what I know about Johnson & Wales, the answers to these questions is an unequivocal ‘yes’!”

In conclusion, he told graduates: “You’ve made a wise investment. Leverage that investment, and don’t waste those gifts. The world that awaits you needs your talents.”


Read about the 2017 honorary doctorate recipients.

Topics: Providence Commencement