Class of 2016 honored at Senior Investiture

FSU alumnus, athletic director and FSU football coach Thomas Kelley told the graduating Class of 2016 to surround themselves with good people and to pursue their passions. Photo by Cass Doherty

FSU kicked off the countdown to graduation with the Senior Investiture ceremony held on April 11 in DPAC. Faculty, staff, parents and invited guests were present at the event.

According to Melinda Stoops, dean of students, Senior Investiture is a ceremony to acknowledge the academic achievements of the graduating seniors as well as joining “all of us as a larger community of scholars.”

The investiture address was given by FSU alumnus, athletic director and FSU football coach, Thomas Kelley.

He said, “When you’re Irish, there are three things you know for certain – you enjoy a good lager, there’s probably a fireman or policeman in your family and there’s no such thing as a short speech.”

He explained to seniors there are three groups of graduates – the successful “you’re going to know where you’re going” group, the middle group that will bounce around trying to figure out “what you want to be when you grow up” and those who will settle.

His speech emphasized the importance of striking out “on your own” and figuring out which group “you belong with.”

Kelley said he belonged to all three groups during his life. After receiving his degree, Kelley said he returned to his hometown and settled, finding work locally that didn’t utilize the education he had paid for.

He recalls hating Sunday nights because that meant he had to go to work in the morning.

Kelley explained in his 37 years of working at FSU, he has never sat at home and not wanted to come to work on Monday.

“It’s not work if it’s your passion,” he said.

He added, “The road to success is paved with adversity – it’s paved with failure – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. … If you’re the person who gets up and dusts themselves off and learns from your failure and your adversity, that will make you … successful.

“If plan A doesn’t work, there are 25 more letters.”

Kelley said there will always be people “telling you that you can’t do something. … You’re not smart enough.”

He stressed the importance of proving those people wrong and “putting your foot down.”

He said while the saying, “You can be anything you want to be,” isn’t necessarily true for everybody, everyone must find out “what you’re passionate about.

“Life is too short to have small goals,” he said, adding, “Some of those passions won’t pay a lot of money, and some of them will. … You have to find out.

“Success is not owned. It’s leased and rent is due every day,” he said.

Kelley attributes his success not to himself, but the people he surrounds himself with. “Don’t hang around with the naysayers, the people who bring you down. Surround yourself with good people and good things will happen.”

Stoops reminded students to enjoy the last days of college and asked them to participate in some of FSU’s traditions in the coming weeks.

The traditions included eating chicken nuggets in the Dining Commons, moonlight breakfast, Bingo, sitting on the Crocker or May Hall lawns and “reading an email from me,” she said.

“I want you to look ahead. You have one month left on campus. … If you haven’t experienced one of the traditions I’ve listed, try one out. You’ve got 41 days.

“You will never be graduating seniors again. … You’ll never be in this place, at this time, to have these same traditions again. Don’t get so focused on your upcoming graduation that you forget to live in the moment,” she said.

University President F. Javier Cevallos congratulated the Class of 2016 and said, “Today is a moment to think a little bit and reflect a little bit about everything you have accomplished. We get so caught up in our daily activities that we don’t think about what it means to accomplish something this important.

“Each one of us has a different path, different life, different career. Each of you has different struggles, different opportunities, different challenges so only you know what it has taken for you to be here today,” he added.

Vice President of the Class of 2016 Sarah Cowdell spoke to fellow upcoming graduates about their final moments of their senior year and her personal experiences at FSU.

Cowdell, a transfer student, said, “While my path started off crooked,” she feels lucky to have spent three years as part of the FSU community.

She said, “For some, the word ‘graduation’ sparks extreme happiness and pride. For others, it elicits fear and trepidation and, for most, its provokes both feelings.”

She added, “At this stage in our lives, no matter how boxed in we feel, we must remember the opportunities are endless.

“Graduation is sure to be marked with celebration and joy, which it very well should be. However, oftentimes, we tend to only mark large milestones in our lives with this reception. Today, I stand here to challenge you to treat every day like a celebration,” she said.

She urged seniors to celebrate and “focus on the now.”

The faculty speaker for Senior Investiture was Dr. May Hara, an assistant professor for the College of Education at FSU.

Hara said, “My understanding of the Senior Investiture ceremony is that it is an opportunity to celebrate your many academic achievements, to mark your transition to alumni status and to begin the countdown of 41 days to your graduation from Framingham State.”

She said she understood the seniors would be getting advice from anyone “slightly older” or “slightly more experienced” about what they should do next.

Hara suggested taking a year off and backpacking around Europe.

She asked seniors to join her in “being fully present in this very moment in time. Rather than thinking too much about what might lie ahead, we can reflect about some of the wonderful things about graduating from college.”

Hara, an anthropologist, has spent much of her life asking other people questions. To emphasize the importance of college graduation, she polled 25-30 people about their thoughts on the importance of celebrating college graduation. She polled teachers, doctors, lawyers, a carpenter, a baker and a celebrity dog walker.

She added her words are no longer just “one woman’s opinion.

“The first reason that people gave for why they thought it was wonderful to celebrate graduating from college is that you now know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are fully capable of persevering through multiple challenges to accomplish something as rigorous and demanding as a college degree.”

Hara added, “Whenever you confront challenges in the future, as we all undoubtedly will, you will be stronger knowing you committed to and completed the major accomplishment of earning a college degree.” 

She said the second reason people valued the celebration of graduation was because this is a time to “reflect on all the experiences you’ve had. … You build lifelong friendships, engage with people from completely different backgrounds and hopefully completely different world views, and you figure out a little bit more about who you are in this world.

“If you are feeling trepidation about the unknown of the future, know that the flip side of that is that the world is wide open to you,” she added.

“You don’t have to pick the perfect path right now, and you can change your mind down the road,” she said.

Hara added the most important thing for graduates is to work hard and bring good to others.

Cowdell reminded the graduates, “Seniors, we have 41 days. Forty-one days. Forty-one days to shamelessly devour fries from The Grille. Forty-one days to actually read our daily email from Dean Stoops. Forty-one days to lay outside and bask in the sun of May Hall. Forty-one days to bleed black and gold. Make sure to make the days count.”

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