WILLIMANTIC, CT — Eastern Connecticut State University’s annual graduation ceremony was held at the XL Center in Hartford on May 15, with more than 12,000 family members and friends cheering on their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, as 1,105 undergraduates and 85 graduate students received their diplomas.
Rebecca Schultz, of Wilmington, graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts. Schultz was also awarded a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education..
Commencement speaker Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), told the graduates and their families at Eastern Connecticut State University’s 128th Commencement exercises that the current opioid crisis facing the United States is “the nation’s greatest medical challenge since the AIDS epidemic of the 1990s. It is a tragedy of major proportions, and we need to work together to help those addicted get treatment and recover from this disease.”
McCance-Katz also explained to the crowd that Eastern had grown from a small college when she attended Eastern Connecticut State College in the 1970s to become “a comprehensive university that has flourished.”
McCance-Katz received an honorary doctor of science degree from Eastern in a special hooding ceremony during the graduation exercises. She graduated magna cum laude from Eastern in 1978 with a degree in biology. Following a sterling career in medicine, psychiatry, academic achievement and public administration, McCance-Katz’s DHHS appointment in August 2017 made her the first assistant secretary-level director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Eastern President Elsa Nunez told the graduates their liberal arts education at Eastern was highly prized by American employers. “In five separate surveys conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities over the past decade, the vast majority of employers – over 90 percent! – say they are less interested in specialized job proficiencies, favoring instead analytical thinking, teamwork and communication skills – the wide-ranging academic and social competencies available through a liberal arts education.”
Nunez encouraged the Eastern seniors to be active citizens as they participate in the American democratic system of self-governance. She quoted New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, who has written that disagreement is “the most vital ingredient of any decent society. It defines our individuality, gives us our freedom, enjoins our tolerance, enlarges our perspectives, makes our democracies real, and gives hope and courage to oppressed people everywhere.”
“So never abdicate your responsibilities as a citizen to someone else,” said Nunez. “Be willing to question the status quo. And stand up for the values you believe in.”
More than 40 percent of the graduates were the first in their families to earn a bachelor’s degree. Approximately 85 percent of graduates stay in Connecticut to launch their careers, contribute to their communities and raise their families.
About Eastern Connecticut State University
Eastern Connecticut State University is the state of Connecticut’s public liberal arts university, serving more than 5,300 students annually at its Willimantic campus and satellite locations. In addition to attracting students from 163 of Connecticut’s 169 towns, Eastern also draws students from 26 other states and 20 other countries. A residential campus offering 40 majors and 65 minors, Eastern offers students a strong liberal art foundation grounded in an array of applied learning opportunities. Ranked the 25th top public university in the North Region by U.S. News and World Report in its 2018 Best College ratings, Eastern has also been awarded “Green Campus” status by the Princeton Review eight years in a row. For more information, visit http://www.easternct.edu.
It is the policy of Eastern Connecticut State University to ensure equal access to its events. If you are an individual with a disability and will need accommodations for this event, please contact the Office of University Relations at (860) 465-5735.
(NOTE: The above announcement is from Eastern Connecticut State University via Merit.)
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