Rivier University celebrates transformative mission at 82nd Commencement

2017 Commencement Ceremony cap toss

View the Commencement Ceremony Photo Album

Rivier University celebrated its 82nd Commencement today at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts. The University awarded 949 degrees-its largest graduating class to date-to doctoral, post-master's, master's, bachelor's, and associate degree graduates.

Highlighting Rivier's mission to transform hearts and minds to serve the world, the University honored Peter Kelleher, President and CEO of Harbor Homes and the Partnership for Successful Living, with an honorary doctor of humane letters for his humanitarian work as an advocate for the needs of low-income community members, veterans, and other vulnerable populations.

Mr. Kelleher delivered the Commencement address, reflecting on the privilege he has had to serve in the non-profit arena. "Being a part of the non-profit environment in any capacity creates the opportunity to maximize our hearts and minds to benefit those most vulnerable, and allows us to go home at night with feelings of accomplishment and fulfillment that are immeasurable," says Kelleher. "The mission of Harbor Homes and the Partnership for Successful Living's culture-to interact with all of our community members with dignity, respect, and equality-is the bedrock in the delivery of services and the betterment of life." Kelleher encouraged graduates to consider pursuing a rewarding career with a non-profit organization and appealed to all in attendance to use the 'power within us' to improve lives, reignite hope, and influence change.

With more than 35 years of service, Kelleher oversees six non-profit agencies offering more than 80 programs in the state that provide access to housing, healthcare, education, and employment to those challenged by mental illness, substance abuse, or homelessness. Mr. Kelleher has received numerous awards including the NH Business Review Excellence in Nonprofit Award and recognition as the 2015 Humanitarian of the Year by The Telegraph. In 2015, he was nominated by Senator Jeanne Shaheen and subsequently appointed as the New England representative to the Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans. In this role, he advises the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on veteran homelessness issues on a federal level. He also serves as board member of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.

During the ceremony, Rivier recognized the first recipients of its Doctor of Psychology in Counseling and School Psychology degree. This terminal degree allows graduates to obtain licensure for independent practice and to pursue careers as psychologists and school psychologists in a variety of settings. Rivier University was the first institution in New Hampshire to offer a combined doctoral program in counseling and school psychology, and it is one of only several similar programs in the country.

Speaking on behalf of Rivier's undergraduate programs, Elaine Boles, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Summa Cum Laude, of Bedford, New Hampshire, addressed her fellow graduates and thanked the entire University community for supporting the Class of 2017's educational goals. "No matter where we go from here, Rivier University has prepared us, and we are ready," she said. "It is time to share our education and knowledge with others as we continue our Alma Mater's commitment to serve the world."

Student speaker for Rivier's graduate programs, Christina Anderson, M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, of Nashua, New Hampshire, acknowledged Rivier's faculty for providing the best instruction and wisdom they had to offer. "We are surrounded by professors and an administration who care about us and want to see us succeed," says Anderson. "Because of them, our academic experience was, and still is, incredibly inspiring," she added. "We are ready to make this real world of ours a better place for our students, for our patients, for our clients, and for ourselves."

Sister Paula Marie Buley, IHM, President shared well wishes with the graduates. "Congratulations to all our graduates of the class of 2017," said Sister Paula.  "This is a singular achievement in your life and will serve as a strong foundation of the core mission of Rivier University to transform hearts and minds to serve the world."

Offering an education grounded in the liberal arts and Catholic tradition featuring the core curriculum, Journeys of Transformation , the University prepares students for the 21 st -century workforce. Recent advances include the launch of a new Doctor of Nursing Practice program, expanded online offerings and an innovative new Employment Promise Program, designed to enhance career preparation and the employability of students in all academic disciplines.

Rivier's mission to transform hearts and minds to serve the world is demonstrated through its academic programs in nursing, public health, education, counseling, psychology, business, and the humanities. The University will embark on a new, impactful partnership this fall with St. Joseph Hospital to develop and staff a mobile health clinic providing medical and dental services to those most in need in the Greater Nashua area. Rivier supports its community partnerships through many service projects conducted throughout the region and beyond.