Curry College honored 689 graduates from the Class of 2020 in its 140th Commencement celebration on Saturday, May 22, 2021. The ceremony, to which graduates were allowed to invite two guests, was live-streamed from the Walter M. Katz field to approximately 800 family members, friends, alumni, faculty and staff among other Curry community members.
The in-person ceremony was especially cherished after a year-plus of adversity and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including an unprecedented remote final semester at the College last spring.
President Kenneth K. Quigley, Jr. welcomed, congratulated and recognized the graduates at the historic event. “The Commencement exercises today represent not only 142 years of excellence in education, not only 142 years of accomplishment and service by our graduates, but it represents the first opportunity we have had in over a year to return to normal and to give you the in-person celebration of your graduation from Curry that you deserve,” he said to start the morning ceremony. “Today is a celebration of all we have overcome, and all we have achieved despite the challenges and the tragedy of this time.”
In her address, Class Orator Gerta Mallei ’06 MSN ’20 of Canton, Mass., advised fellow graduates to dream big, work hard and be kind.
“Curry College’s academic programs and faculty have laid a foundation from which we will emerge as knowledgeable and skillful leaders,” she said to a crowd of roughly 600 attendees. “As leaders, we may not always have a cure or solution, but we can overcome many hurdles. You and you alone are the only person who can live the life, that can write the story, that you were meant to tell. Let us take the lessons that we have learned from each other and transfer those we work with, whether they are fellow employees, patients, children, or family members and best friends.”
Moments of special recognition included the naming of Cody Murch of Raleigh, North Carolina as the traditional undergraduate valedictorian. Traditional undergraduates Mary Duarte of Malden, Mass., Sarah Simmons of Forestdale, Mass., and Bernardo Teixeira of Quincy, Mass., were named salutatorians of their class. Jennifer Beirne of Plymouth, Mass., was recognized as the continuing education student valedictorian and Wayne Raymondo of Cape Coral, Florida was recognized as the continuing education student salutatorian.
Shea Mathews of Concord, N.H., received the New Era Award. Each year, the New Era Award is presented to a graduating senior who – by virtue of his or her academic excellence, participation in curricular and co-curricular activities, leadership, accomplishments, and the potential for future achievement – is determined to have contributed most to the enrichment of the Class and the College at large.
While at Curry, Mathews led on campus as a student-athlete and two-year captain of the Volleyball team and interned for Team IMPACT, a national nonprofit that connects children facing serious illnesses with college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes. The community health and wellness major was one of the most traveled students at the College and completed three short-term study abroad trips including Cuba, Argentina, and Mexico. She also earned a Certificate in Irish Cultural Heritage while completing her semester-long study abroad experience in Ireland. Today, she’s a graduate student at Boston University studying global health program design, monitoring, and evaluation and maternal and child health. She was selected as one of the first Select Scholars through a new partnership led by the College to provide Curry students a new pathway to pursuing a master’s degree at the Boston University School of Public Health.
The traditional graduation event was smaller in size and scale in order to meet Commonwealth health and safety requirements, but the football field was full with an overwhelming amount of excitement, joy and pride as parents and family members watched graduates cross the stage to mark a momentous milestone in life.
“I think for many in the Class of 2020, it’s a fairy-tale ending to their time at Curry and will bring all of them a sense of achievement,” says Kim Augustine, whose daughter Alexa Augustine ’20 is a community education graduate. “After a sad end to their senior spring due to COVID, and not even having a chance to say goodbye to their classmates, this is a wonderful opportunity provided by the school and I know that everyone in the Class of 2020 is very grateful to Curry for making it happen.”