Saint Anselm Graduates Ready to Explore and Engage the World

May 15, 2021

By Laura Lemire '06

After a year and a half of living with the pandemic, the Saint Anselm College Class of 2021 celebrated their many accomplishments in the first large-scale event on the college campus since February 2020.

College President Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D.
College President Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D.

On Saturday, May 15, 2021, 477 Saint Anselm students triumphantly crossed the stage in front of Alumni Hall, marking the completion of their undergraduate studies and the beginning of their next chapter. The celebration of commencement followed a challenging year in which the students persevered with good spirits and the entire Anselmian community made it a goal to hold the graduation ceremony in person.

College President Joseph A. Favazza, Ph.D., reflected on the contrasting emotions of sadness and excitement that the Class of 2021’s final event brought about, explaining that commencement is not the end, but the beginning.

“Ready or not, the exploration now commences. And guess what? No one knows where the exploring will end,” said Dr. Favazza. “Just as the monks have discovered their forever home on this Hilltop and vowed never to leave it, you have discovered your forever home and, I hope, vow to never leave it behind.”

“So as you make this end in order to make a beginning, don’t be sad. It must be this way as you begin your exploration with all of the tools Saint Anselm College has given you … But you have a calling. It will lead you if you listen, reflect, and yes, love. And eventually, you will know this place again … for the first time.”

Read Dr. Favazza’s full speech


Although the exercises were adjusted for Covid-19 safety protocols, there was still an abundance of pomp and circumstance.

Abigail Campbell '21, student speaker
Abigail Campbell '21, student speaker

Following the invocation and National Anthem sung by Aidan M. Lewis ’21, student speaker Abigail Campbell ’21 addressed her class reminding them of the lasting impression Saint Anselm College has made on them in the last four years as their “true north.” Using a compass, the chemistry major explained that the college has been a fixed point in their lives, stable and reliable. Their journey over the last four years has brought joy and challenges but was “worth every mile.”

“In a few hours we must leave the peak of our climb and begin our descent down. And on the way down we will stumble and worry over which path we should take,” she said. “My hope for all of us is that rays of sunshine come through the trees and land on all our shoulders; that familiar voices of friends we laughed and cried with remain with us, reminding us of the joy we experienced here on the Hilltop.

“As we begin the start to our new adventure let us remember the direction and path that Saint Anselm has led us in and the foundational values that make us so wonderfully prepared to leave our imprint on this world. May we be guided by the footsteps of past Anselmians to help us find our new home. And may we always carry a compass that leads us back to the Hilltop.”

After graduation, Campbell is completing a year of service at Andre House of Hospitality in Phoenix, Ariz.

Read Abigail Campbell’s full speech

Laura Santer '21 receiving the Chancellor's Award
Laura Santer '21 receiving the Chancellor's Award


Abbot Mark Cooper, O.S.B., Chancellor of Saint Anselm College, then awarded the Chancellor’s Medal to philosophy major, Latin minor Laura Santer, the graduate with the highest grade point average of 3.987. Santer, from Nashua, N.H., graduated summa cum laude.

The in-person celebration of commencement marked the end of a year of Covid restrictions. All seniors were either fully vaccinated or had a negative Covid test within 24 hours. Each student was able to invite two guests to the event.

Honorary Degree Recipients
In front of the Saint Anselm statue overlooking the college quad, Dr. Favazza and Abbot Mark bestowed upon commencement speaker Edward A. Hjerpe III, Ph.D. ’81 a Doctor of Business.

Hjerpe is president and CEO of Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, Mass. In addition to his many years spent in the banking and economics industry, Hjerpe has also served the community through many philanthropic endeavors including as chair of the college’s Board of Trustees. “It is his thoughtful and generous philanthropy and service to others that are the indelible imprint Ed has made on this world,” said Dr. Favazza.

In addition, Abbot Mark and Dr. Favazza conferred a Doctor of Arts and Letters on Robert “Bob” and Beverly “Bev” Grappone P ’04 for their service to others and their vision of helping people discover meaning in their lives. Bob Grappone ran Grappone Auto for 43 years while his wife was a nurse. They are working to develop Saint Anselm College’s Gregory J. Grappone Humanities Institute at Saint Anselm in honor of their son Greg who graduated from Saint Anselm College in 2004. “Their vision for humanity and their generosity is having a transformative impact on the Saint Anselm campus and far beyond,” said Dr. Favazza.

Edward Hjerpe III, Ph.D. '81, commencement speaker
Edward Hjerpe III, Ph.D. '81, commencement speaker

In his address, Hjerpe III, Ph.D. ’81 reminded graduates that life happens fast. He shared his own Saint Anselm College memories from 40 years prior, reminiscing about the pub, Humanities program, Professor John Romps, Spanish class, and playing basketball in Stoutenburgh. He encouraged them to focus on what’s important in life, including Saint Anselm College on that list among family, friends, faith, and health.

“I hope you will increasingly value what you have learned here, the experiences you’ve had here, as foundational to your life,” said Hjerpe. “Know that the monks sitting over here, truly have unconditional love for students and alums, they will always be here for you no matter what. Be generous in return.”

“Much has changed in the world in the last year … that’s a lot for any class to endure, but out of adversity comes resilience and out of challenges come opportunities. You are entering the post college world at an inflection point in many ways but you are resilient, you have endless opportunity and you will make the world a better place.

“In summary, watch out, pay attention life happens fast, love and remember this place, the friends you have made and the growth that occurred here, focus on what’s important in life for which there are at least eight important categories in my experience. Live and work a purposeful constructive and value based life and know that you have the skills to learn and do anything. Everyone here supports you and looks forward to all the great things you will do professionally and personally.”

Watch the event livestreams for Baccalaureate, Nurse Pinning, and Commencement


Members of the nursing Class of 2021 during their pinning ceremony in Sullivan Arena.
Members of the nursing Class of 2021 during their pinning ceremony in Sullivan Arena

Nurse Pinning
Earlier in the day, the college marked an important moment for the nursing Class of 2021 as 93 seniors received their nursing pins. The annual event was held in the Sullivan Arena where students were welcomed into the nursing profession. Like commencement, the nursing students had the opportunity to invite two guests to the ceremony.


On Thursday, May 13, the community celebrated the graduation of the Class of 2021 with the annual Baccalaureate Mass. The full Mass was held on the college quad for the first time in recent memory, with 19 members of the monastic community celebrating. They were joined by the college choir, who led the singing of liturgical music, and members of the Class of 2021 who led the readings. This year, the college recognized graduates who were committing themselves to service either through long-term volunteer work, the military, or a call to religious life. More than 18 members of the Class of 2021 are already planning on service of some kind post-graduation.

In addition, several seniors are going on to graduate programs at Georgetown, George Washington University, and University of Notre Dame, and employers such as Fidelity Investments, BAE Systems, and Boston Analytical are welcoming Anselmians to their ranks.


Class of 2020
On Sunday, May 16, the college will fulfill a promise made to the Class of 2020 and bring them back to campus for a celebration of their graduation. Due to Covid-19, last year’s commencement was held virtually, but Dr. Favazza told the students they would be back so they could walk across the stage like all previous Saint Anselm graduates before them. The event will take place at 2 p.m. Admission will be by ticket only. The event will be livestreamed on the college website for those unable to physically attend.

Saint Anselm administrators made the decision last year to resume on-ground campus life and in-person classes for the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. The commencement weekend brings the year to a successful conclusion. In order to participate members of the class of 2021 were either fully vaccinated or tested negative prior to the event. The college followed masking and social distance guidelines in accordance with the state of New Hampshire.


Class of 2021 Commencement Photo Gallery


Class of 2021 Nursing Pinning Ceremony Photo Gallery

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