“We all belong here”; Suffolk hosts 2022 commencement ceremony

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James Bartlett

CAS graduates turn their tassels

In the midst of a heatwave on May 22, over 2,000 Suffolk University graduates received their diplomas after this year’s return to in-person learning.

The three graduation ceremonies were held at Boston’s Leader Bank Pavilion. The Sawyer Business School commencement kicked off the monumental day at 9:00 a.m., with the College of Arts and Sciences ceremony following at 1:30 p.m. The Law School ceremony commenced that evening at 5:30 p.m.

President Marisa Kelly praised the SBS graduates for their continued resilience throughout a turbulent college experience.

“The energy that you have brought to our campus as we emerge into a new normal is something I want to recognize and celebrate,” Kelly said. 

SBS Speaker Tim Ryan, U.S. chair and senior partner of PwC acknowledged the unpredictability the graduates faced over their four years. He added that despite social unrest and a global pandemic, the Class of 2022 was well prepared not only to enter the workforce, but the world. 

Ryan said despite the challenges the world still faces, from climate change to racial inequality, he looks to the future with hope and optimism. 

“The reason I’m an optimist, it’s because of you. It’s because of those challenges that you have overcome. It is because of the resiliency. It is because of the work that you’ve done not only in your studies, but the work you’ve done together,” said Ryan.

Former Suffolk Journal Sports Editor Nicholas Frieburger celebrates during CAS ceremony (James Bartlett)

SBS undergraduate student speaker Taylor Monteiro (BSBA ‘22) shared her journey as a first-generation college student and said Suffolk became a welcoming and inclusive environment in which she could succeed.

“We have students from every walk of life, from every corner of the globe. We have students of color, LGBTQ+ students, international students, students with disabilities, first gens, and students who belong to even more than one of these groups,” said Monteiro. “Suffolk University has made it clear: We all belong here. Our campus grounds are built for real people with real circumstances.”

SBS graduate student speaker Gibson Laborde (MBA ‘22) also spoke of his unconventional journey through academics. He praised Suffolk for its utilization of online learning even before the pandemic, and said it made his education accessible.

Laborde encouraged the graduates to continue to pursue education and success, no matter how long or unprecedented their steps may be.

“What matters is that we keep chasing, keep learning, and keep persevering. When opportunity knocks, open the door. When opportunity doesn’t knock, check the door anyway,” said Laborde.

The SBS Class of 2022 was composed of 908 alumni, according to Suffolk University.

CAS keynote speaker Manny Lopes, executive vice president for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and healthcare equity advocate, encouraged graduates to not back down in the face of adversity. Lopes shared the struggles he faced growing up in East Boston and the inspiration and leadership his mother provided.

“While my mother didn’t have an education, she never let that keep her from providing for her family. First, her six brothers, and then her five kids. She was a role model in rising to meet the moment,” Lopes said.

Lopes said he was not a stranger to self-doubt, and added that his personal experiences with racism helped shape him into a stronger and more empathetic individual. 

Undergraduate commencement speaker Matyas Csiki-Fejer addresses the CAS Class of 2022 (James Bartlett)

“I still refuse to be bitter. Bitterness slows us down. Those experiences and other challenges I’ve experienced only made me more determined. They made me more me. I still face the insecurities of being human and trying to make a difference. But adversity helps us get comfortable in our authentic self,” Lopes said.

CAS student commencement speaker Matyas Csiki-Fejer (BS ‘22) said Suffolk’s community was what allowed him to build his own self-confidence and step into leadership positions on campus. Csiki-Fejer became the first Suffolk cross-country runner to earn All-American honors earlier this year.

“As college students, we’ve been fed a narrative of stalwart, rugged, self-serving individualism, but the truth is, nothing that any of us have done has been the product of our own actions alone,” Csiki-Fejer said. “We are all products of the relationships we share with others. We are all lucky, because compassion is the reason we’re here today.”

The CAS Class of 2022 is composed of 780 alumni, according to Suffolk University.

The Class of 2022 consisted of graduates from 41 different states and 60 different countries, and 31% were first-generation college students.