Fitchburg State held its 123rd commencement exercises in May, conferring more than 800 undergraduate and graduate degrees over two ceremonies. The graduate commencement ceremony was the largest in the institution’s history, reflecting the growth of online programs that brought graduates from more than 20 states as well as Canada and Africa.
At the undergraduate ceremony on Saturday, May 18, Fitchburg State alumnus Steven D. Borges, executive vice president and chief executive officer of Nypro Healthcare, addressed 650 graduating students and thousands of guests. He described his transformative educational experience at the University, which he entered uncertain about where his path would take him.
“Fitchburg State provided me, and each of you, an extensive life tool box that you can leverage as you go forward,” Borges said. “Just as you’d take a hammer from a tool box to hang a picture, build a dog house or do a project in your home, your next step in building your own path is to decide how best to utilize the tools in your personal tool box and all the hard work you have done to get here today. Your education has set you up for a life that is yours. Yours to enjoy, yours for growth, yours to decide what direction you take, and, ultimately, where that path takes you.”
For Borges, that path ultimately led to Nypro Healthcare, an approximately $2.5 billion operation with over 25 manufacturing sites across the globe.
He offered graduates seven lessons to take away from his speech. Build a foundation upon which to learn; select a process for moving forward in your life and career; don’t settle; push the boundaries of risk versus reward; serve others; lean on those who love you, and in turn be there for them; and follow your heart.
“In doing these seven things, you can anticipate success and misses, challenges and opportunities, and among all of it, you can expect pride and growth to be the best Fitchburg State alumni, and the best person you can be,” he said.
President Lapidus presented Borges with the President’s Medal in recognition of his service to Fitchburg State.
Also at the undergraduate ceremony, President Lapidus presented university Trustee Anna M. Clementi an honorary doctorate in recognition of her contributions to the campus community. As co-founder of the University’s Center for Italian Culture and through ongoing philanthropic support of other local institutions, Clementi and her family have enriched the lives of students past, present and future.
At the graduate commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 16, the Graduate Student Leadership Award was presented to Christine Foote-Lucero, a forensic nurse examiner from Loveland, Colo., who completed a master’s degree in forensic nursing. Foote-Lucero, who had never set foot in New England prior to her graduation trip, saluted the students and their loved ones for the sacrifices made in pursuit of their advanced degrees.
“The central message that I would like to pass along to you today is the importance, reward, and indeed responsibility, of using your unique talents and energy to make a positive impact on your community,” she said. “And by community, I mean that in the broadest of terms; this could be your family, work place, neighborhood, place of worship, or simply a stranger you meet during the course of your day. If all you learned here were the skills needed to advance in your career and enjoy a comfortable living, then you have failed. As Winston Churchill once stated, ‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.’”