Commencement Exercise for the Class of 2019

On Saturday, May 18, 430 Saint Anselm College students received their diplomas during the 126th commencement exercises. Speaker Robert K. “Bob” Weiler ’73, HD ’00 shared his advice for navigating life and the workforce with the graduates through five major tenets.

Video: Watch the One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Commencement Exercises in their entirety

Photos: Class of 2019 Commencement Exercises

Speeches and Remarks

President DiSalvo, Abbot Mark, Bishop Libasci, the Benedictine community, members of the Board of Trustees, and honorary degree recipients, distinguished...and undistinguished...faculty and staff, friends, families, and my fellow classmates of the Class of 2019, good morning and what a privilege and an honor it is to speak on behalf of the graduating class.  

On August 27, 2015, we sat in these same squeaky Christian Party Rental seats anxiously awaiting the next four years.

On that breezy Thursday, we heard Liliana Kane talk about her years at Saint Anselm and how we were about to embark on what many called the most formative years of their lives.

Today, we sit here still anxious. Some of us still unemployed, ready to take on this world.

Well, maybe.

Our professors, mentors, and the members of the Saint Anselm community taught us life lessons, educated us on our Benedictine heritage, and showed us the true meaning of being Anselmian.

The most impactful thing I learned at Saint Anselm, I learned at the beginning of our Sophomore year. About 30 students attended an Encounter retreat held in the lower church. At this retreat a story was shared with us.

The short story began at the end of a lecture given by Philosopher and teacher, Dr. Alexander Papaderos. Like usual, at the end of his lecture Dr. Papaderos asked, “Are there any questions?” Some bold individual from the crowd spoke up and asked, “What is the meaning of life?”.

Now if I were to have gotten that question, I don’t think I would have been able to come up with an sufficient answer. But Dr. Papaderos responded with something that has resonated with me for nearly three years.

Dr. Papaderos recalled growing up in Greece during the Second World War. One day while on a walk he found bits of a broken mirror on the road. He tried to piece them together but with all the small pieces he couldn’t, so he took the largest one. By scratching it on a stone he made it round. He said, “I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would not shine. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.”

Trying to reflect light into dark places describes much of what has taken place these past four years—in fact, our professors would say that is pretty much their job description. We haven’t always attained enlightenment and sometimes it’s been hard to even reflect.

Together we have had our struggles. Just as the mirror, we have been broken: handing in papers from our caffeine induced all-nighters, waking in bed at 9:05 for an 8:30 class knowing it's long past the time to use the “my alarm didn’t go off” excuse; putting our noses to the grindstone through finals with 2 papers, 4 exams, and $3 left on your meal plan. And we’ve all had our own personal struggles, discovering our values and who we are. These times were difficult, but we made it through. We have been slowly shaped, like the piece of Dr. Papaderos’s mirror. Some of our sharpest edges have been rounded.

Liliana Kane was right, these have been formative years, months, and days. And we have begun to reflect light into dark places—in ourselves and into our world.

We have embraced the love, generosity, and knowledge reflected into our hearts. We have walked 130 miles in solidarity for 9 charities. We have attended the Valentine’s Day dance and cupid shuffled until our legs fell off. We have relayed with one another until 4am to raise half a million dollars in four years.

In smaller ways we have made an impact by: holding doors for people ten feet behind us and making them put it into a jog; attempting to get in the last “have a nice day” with Leslie from Davison, but never being able to; discussing the “joy of life” with peers after a seminar on Chris McCandless and Into the Wild; or leaving your ID with Terry at Cshop at the end of the year because you have way too much money left on your meal plan, and some hungry Senior could definitely use that buffalo chicken calzone.

Dr. Papaderos concluded his answer with this, “I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light – truth, understanding, knowledge – is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it. I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have, I can reflect light into the dark places of this world…and change some things in some people. This is the meaning of my life.’

It could also be the meaning of ours.

Today we are joining the nearly 20,000 alumni, all parts of the Anselmian mirror, reflecting light into the hearts of men and women near and far. Now it is our turn. What we learned here, by allowing our faith to seek understanding, we will use for years to come.

Thank you to the monks for opening their home to us.

Thank you to our professors for teaching us the value of a liberal arts education.

Thank you to the faculty and staff for being our support system.

Thank you to our parents and loved ones who supported our dreams from the start.

And lastly thank you to the class of 2019 who taught me the meaning of being a part of a forever family.

So, I leave you with a question—In your future careers, families, and friendships, how will you reflect the light, love, and joy that Saint Anselm has brought you?

Godspeed in your endeavors class of 2019. And let your light shine in the hearts of those who need it most.