University hosts 125th commencement exercises spring ceremonies

May 17, 2021
Commencement Gonfalons

Fitchburg State University recently held its 125th commencement exercises, with virtual ceremonies honoring the graduating class.

Fitchburg State President Richard S. Lapidus saluted the graduates for persevering through the challenges of a global pandemic.

“You’re transitioning into a very different world from the one that you had been planning for when you started college, and find yourself at a pivotal time in our country’s evolution,” President Lapidus said. “The pandemic has changed all of our lives in significant ways.  It has impacted the way we live and work, think and behave. It has raised questions of uncertainty about the financial future, it has enhanced political polarization and magnified ongoing issues of inequality and injustice. The experience has, at times, been chaotic, stressful and often fatiguing. In many ways, how you respond to this current situation will define your generation. You are well trained and possess the talent and skills to do great things. So, use your education wisely, summon your knowledge, insight, creativity, and courage. It’s your time to challenge what is, affect real change, and realize what can be in the world.”

At the graduate ceremony, Graduate Student Leadership Award recipient Christopher S. Brooks talked about his journey from serving in the U.S. Navy to becoming a physician assistant, and the decision to continue his education with an MBA from Fitchburg State. He said he was encouraged to go back to school by a patient who was recovering from a stroke, who was also a teacher.

To make a long story short, for every excuse that I had on why I could not go back to school, the teacher had given me a positive answer on how and why I should,” Brooks said, encouraging others to follow the teacher’s example. “Help guide or teach someone that may be feeling stuck. Lead others to help them achieve their goals. Lastly, do not be afraid to take a chance on yourself, whether it is continuing your education further, or possibly applying for that job that you saw, but did not think you’d get.”

Undergraduate valedictorian Joseph Bourgeois recounted the challenges all of the members of the Class of 2021 had faced in pursuit of their degrees. “As the brilliant Albert Einstein once said, ‘In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity,’” Bourgeois said. “This past year has been filled with challenges brought on by COVID. Our lives have been changed drastically, especially in terms of our academics. The transition from in-person classes to online was not easy by any means but we were able to push forward and cross the finish line. When we face difficulty in life, we must adapt to the changes and make the best out of a bad situation.”

The complete virtual ceremonies can be viewed online at

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