READING, MA — In May of 1967, Richard J. Meelia was on the campus of Austin Preparatory School in Reading, wearing a robe and mortarboard, eager to embrace his future as a high school graduate.
Nearly 50 years ago to the day, Mr. Meelia found himself again on the campus of Austin Prep wearing a robe and mortarboard – this time as the Commencement Keynote Speaker, sharing the wisdom of his life’s experiences with the class of 2017.
“So 50 years ago, I sat where you sit,” Mr. Meelia said to the 131 graduates during Austin Prep’s graduation ceremony on Sat., May 20. “Maybe some of my lessons learned will help inform your decisions as your life progresses.”
Mr. Meelia retired in 2011 as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Covidien Plc, a leading $11 billion global healthcare products company. A graduate of St. Anselm College and Boston College, his first job was with American Hospital Supply. He also previously worked at Kendall, another medical supply company.
It is important to adapt to change, embrace leadership and always be aware of your integrity, he said.
“I am very confident that each of you lives with integrity,” Mr. Meelia, of Boston, said. “But not everyone sees a bright line between OK and not OK. In the rat race of life these lines can get blurred, and when they do you must always be aware of them. As you advance through your life always keep integrity front and center.”
Austin Prep’s class of 2017 is ready for the interesting world it is headed into, said class valedictorian Timothy Cray of Melrose, including the challenges posed by new technologies and nationalist movements across the globe.
“In spite of all of this intrigue and uncertainty, I can guarantee one constant,” he said. “If you are a kind, charismatic, caring person, you will do well for yourself. You will never ‘outcompute’ or ‘outproduce’ a robot, but you will always ‘outsmile’ it.
Salutatorian Jasmine Joseph of Billerica noted that the class of 2017 had a strong sense of community, and encouraged each other through the difficult times.
“Think of our community like a puzzle,” she said. “We all fit into the puzzle somehow. I would not have become this person had it not been for all my friends, classmates, and teachers. And what’s more, I can leave Austin knowing that my experiences equipped me to move on to an even bigger, brighter future.”
Collectively, the 131 graduates were offered $8 million in college scholarships – about $60,000 per student. All were accepted into four-year institutions of higher learning, and four are attending international colleges.
Congratulations to the following Wilmington graduates:
- Sara Bray, attending Bentley University
- Victoria Bruce, attending Stevens Institute of Technology
- Patrick Flaherty, attending the University of New Hampshire at Durham
- Cristina Gomez, attending the University of Florida
- Abigail Lidoski, attending Rhodes College
- Bianca Macdonald, attending Hamilton College
- Matthew Mangano, attending Wentworth Institute of Technology
- Vittoria Marchese, attending Regis College
- Collin Murphy, attending Northeastern University
- Jacob Perkins, attending the University of New Hampshire at Durham
- Scott Stenson, attending Loyola University Maryland
- Jamie Stone, attending Salem State University
(NOTE: The above press release and photos are from Austin Prep.)
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