The rainy skies cleared as Curry College honored 589 graduates from the Class of 2023 during its 143rd Commencement celebration on May 21. The ceremony was held at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts with family members, friends, alumni, faculty, and staff among other Curry community members in attendance. President Kenneth K. Quigley, Jr., who is retiring at the end of May, presided over the event.
Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, Hon. ‘98 served as Commencement speaker. Ireland is a Distinguished Professor at Northeastern University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. He served 37 years as judge including an associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in 1997, when he became the first African American to sit on that bench in its over 300-year history. In 2010, he became the Court’s first African American chief justice. One of his most notable legal decisions was being one of the four justices who in 2003 voted in favor of same-sex marriage in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the nation’s very first case in which a state supreme court declared same-sex marriage constitutional.
Ireland imparted three life lessons to the Class of 2023—"to always be humble, … to have the right attitude, … and to make a difference.”
“No matter where you wind up living after graduation, there will be communities near you where life is not easy and comfortable,” said Ireland. “Where there are going to be challenges … and the harsh realities of those factors continue to adversely impact future generations. This is a reminder that while gains have been made, much remains to be done. We are far, far from having the kind of society we are capable of achieving in this age and time. And you, graduates, just have to open your eyes and your hearts to the great needs that exist and direct your efforts to making a difference. Down the line there will be an opportunity for each of you to do good and give a hand to those less fortunate than you.”
In her address, Class Orator Nicole Moreira of Rehoboth, MA, said that at Curry she “became the happiest version of myself” while also acknowledging that she and her fellow graduates, who began college in 2019, faced numerous obstacles.
“Now in 2023, we have emerged as a group of fighters—people with strength, guts, and determination,” said Moreira, a nursing major. “If I could have only one word to describe our class, I would say we are resilient. We started our college education by enduring a global pandemic that forced us to learn differently. But we adapted, we did it against the odds, and we learned that when life gets hard, we push back harder.”
Moments of special recognition included the naming of Sierra Fiore of North Kingston, RI, and Jake O’Brien of Quincy, MA, as the traditional undergraduate valedictorians. Traditional undergraduate Alexis Pochay of Marshfield, MA, was named salutatorian of the class. Jocelyn Albertson of Duxbury, MA, and James LeBlanc of Dorchester, MA, were recognized as the continuing education student valedictorians and Michael Frontino of Weymouth, MA was recognized as the continuing education student salutatorian.
Fiona Smith of Seymour, CT, received the New Era Award. Each year, the New Era Award is presented to a graduating senior who—by virtue of their 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.
Smith, a double major in Criminal Justice and Psychology with a minor in Cybersecurity, earned a spot on the Dean’s List every semester and was inducted to the Alexander Graham Bell Honor Society and Alpha Phi Sigma. On campus, Smith worked for Public Safety and was a Resident Assistant for three years. Off campus, she completed four internships at the Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit, Alternative Therapy, LLC, Norfolk District Attorney, and the Mansfield Police Department. She also spent her spring break doing Alternative Spring Break at Habitat for Humanity.
As they waited to process into the arena, excited students reminisced about their favorite Curry moments as well as their future plans. One of them was nursing major Katie Smith of East Bridgewater, MA.
“I’m going to miss living with my best friends, but I'm excited for my future working at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton in the emergency department.”
Video: 2023 Honorary Degree Recipients: