Saint Anselm College’s 131st Commencement was held on Saturday, May 18, celebrating 507 students who earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. This year the college is marking 50 years of full co-education and the inaugural year for the Jean School of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Dr. Favazza speaks at 2024 Commencement

College President Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D. pointed out that students are prepared not only for successful careers in their chosen fields but also for successful “life outcomes.”

The “secret sauce” of Saint Anselm’s transformative experience includes many ingredients, including curiosity, community, humility, respect and courage, he said.

“Learning is simply not enough. But after your years on this Hilltop, you know this. You have eaten of this meal and have been transformed,” he said. “Now go forward, ever forward, with a desire to pursue truth no matter where it leads, to create community no matter where you land, to lead with humility and respect no matter whom you encounter, and to act with courage to create a new heaven and a new earth no matter how familiar your surroundings.”

The Commencement Exercises were held on the Alumni Quadrangle. A large and festive crowd of family and friends cheered for the graduands as their names were read by Professor Ward Holder, Ph.D.; Dean Mark Cronin, Ph.D.; Dean Diane Uzarski DNP, MPH, RN; and Professor Kaitlyn Clarke, Ph.D.

Five individuals who have distinguished themselves as nurses, educators, journalists, and humanitarians received honorary degrees during the ceremonies.

Lauren Chooljian Baer ’10 speaks to Class of 2024
Lauren Chooljian Baer ’10 delivers commencement address

Lauren Chooljian Baer ’10, an award-winning reporter, delivered the commencement address and received an Honorary Doctorate in Journalism. Presenting her the citation, Professor Gary Bouchard, Ph.D., remarked that her “persistence and courage as a journalist speak to the very heart of a Saint Anselm education – the pursuit of the truth.”

A senior reporter with New Hampshire Public Radio, Chooljian was named a finalist for the 2024 Pulitzer Prize in Audio Reporting and she earned the prestigious duPont-Columbia award this year. 

She noted the class of 2024 ended their high school years and started their college years during the pandemic. “You deserve to celebrate loudly. Look around at all the people who believe in you. How lucky you are,” she said.

Chooljian’s reporting of a powerful figure in the addiction treatment field provoked threats of violence against her and her family and yet she continued to follow the story. She told the students that she reflected on her time at Saint Anselm as she considered why she was determined to keep going.

“I realized my experience on this campus has always been so much more than just the texts we read, the lectures we attended. It’s more like an energy that evolved. A moral compass that was developed. An understanding that every day we have the opportunity to try and balance inequities. To question authority. To tell the truth.”

Other honorary degree recipients included Carole McGinness Cafferty ’88; Captain Mary Jo O’Dwyer Majors, R.N., M.S.N., Nurse Corps, U.S.N.R. (RET.) ’69; Joseph M. Horton, Ed.D. ’77; and Robert F. Savard, Jr. ’71. 

As a human rights advocate with more than 30 years of leadership experience in prisons and jails, including as superintendent of a correctional facility, Cafferty was recognized for dedicating her career to the empowerment of individuals, to redefining their identities, and to unlocking their full potential.

Captain Majors was honored for exemplifying the mission of Saint Anselm College and the Jean School of Nursing and Health Sciences, and for giving a lifetime of service to the country, to various volunteer organizations, and to her beloved alma mater.

Horton was cited for being a student-first leader who helped guide and shape Saint Anselm in many ways. His influence on generations of young people helped not only prepare them for successful careers in their chosen fields but also led them to discover their best selves.

Savard, who enjoyed a long and successful professional career in the insurance industry and as a longtime executive recruiter, was honored for being a humble servant who embodies what it means to be Anselmian, giving generously to numerous professional and personal endeavors. 

The student speaker, Psychology Major Kiara Phair ’24, a Magna Cum Laude graduate who helped lead the annual Road for Hope walk in 2022, reminded students that they walk together through happy moments and challenging ones. “We are gathered here to celebrate everything we have accomplished, but no one can forget the fact that we lost a beloved member of our community in these recent weeks.”

“As Anselmians, we pride ourselves on holding each other close,” she continued. “Right now is one of those times. As we navigate the heartache and joy of the present moment, even as we leave this campus today, it is important for us to walk together.”

Rev. Augustine Kelly, O.S.B. ’83, the Chancellor of Saint Anselm College, then presented Ava Caputo ’24, a Biology Major, with the Chancellor’s Awards for the highest grade-point average of 4.0.

During the ceremonies, Professor Kevin Doran, Ph.D., presented the 2024 Distinguished Faculty Award to Professor Deborah McCarter, Ph.D., on behalf of the college’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Doran cited McCarter’s “infectious energy and joy” that has been appreciated by students and fellow faculty.

Hooding ceremonies for the college’s Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice and Master of Education in Special Education programs took place on the morning of commencement, with 18 criminal justice and six education students conferred degrees.

On the day prior to commencement, the Senior Honors Convocation celebrated the academic achievement of the class of 2024, with 30 awards going to individuals, along with the recognition of seniors inducted into 17 honor societies.

The Convocation was followed by the Baccalaureate Mass, with Fr. Francis McCarty, O.S.B. ’10 delivering the Homily.

“One of the unique marks of a Saint Anselm education is that you’ve learned how to put theoretical and conceptual knowledge into practice. So, your final assignment as a Saint Anselm College student is this: Go forth from this place and bring that same love to whichever community you find yourself in next.”

Following the Baccalaureate Mass, a graduation celebration was held for 18 senior members of the Men’s Lacrosse Team, who left campus prior to Commencement to compete in the semi-finals of the NCAA Div. II national championship.

A military commissioning ceremony also was held for Criminal Justice Major Zachary Roughan and Politics and German Major Alexander Scopa, who were commissioned Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

Criminal Justice Major Zachary Roughan and Politics and German Major Alexander Scopa
Criminal Justice Major Zachary Roughan and Politics and German Major Alexander Scopa


To read the full remarks of the commencement speakers, view photos and the simulcast of the event, go to


Video: Commencement Exercises for the Class of 2024 (Livestream Recording)
Video: Honors Convocation and Baccalaureate Mass (Livestream Recording)
Photos: Class of 2024 Commencement Exercises
Photos: Additional 2024 Commencement Candids
Photos: Carr Center Student Line-up
Photos: Master's in Criminology and Criminal Justice Hooding Ceremony
Photos: Master's in Special Education Hooding Ceremony
Photos: Military Commissioning
Photos: Senior Brunch and Grotto
Photos: Convocation and Baccalaureate
Photos: Men's Lacrosse Commencement Exercises