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87th Commencement marks a milestone in Rivier University history

Rivier University celebrated its 87th Commencement on May 15, awarding 683 degrees to associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree graduates.

The ceremony highlighted leadership, transformation, and service in alignment with Rivier’s mission of transforming hearts and minds to serve the world. The celebration included a tribute to the University’s namesake, Saint Anne Marie Rivier, who was elevated to sainthood by Pope Francis earlier that day in Rome.

“This day marks a milestone in the lives of these students and in the history of the University,” said Sister Paula Marie Buley, IHM, Rivier’s President. “Saint Anne Marie’s transcendent ministry of education and service continues to make an impact today through the contributions of our graduates to their professions and communities.”

Rivier University honored Dianne M. Mercier, President of People’s United Bank for New Hampshire, as its 2022 honorary degree recipient and Commencement speaker. As chair of Rivier’s Board of Trustees, Mercier led the University in envisioning its future through the Vision 2020 strategic plan and ushering in a new era of innovation in the sciences with the construction of the Science and Innovation Center, the University’s flagship academic facility. Today, she continues her service as a member of the Rivier University Corporation. She also serves as chair of the SolutionHeath Board of Trustees, vice-chair and trustee for the RiverWoods Group, and a member of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Mercier’s speech addressed the importance of individual responsibility and purpose. “I must always paddle my own canoe, which means I can’t surrender my conscience to anyone,” said Mercier. “If you want happiness in your life, learn to paddle your own canoe. Ask the questions that will allow you to set your priorities … Choose your people well, choose your things well, choose your purpose well.”

Student speeches focused on the transformational power of education and service to the greater good. Dr. Susan Santana of Pelham, New Hampshire, received her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and spoke on behalf of graduate students. “I’ve had the honor of achieving a master’s in business administration, a Master of Science in Nursing, and now a doctorate in nursing practice—all of them from this amazing University,” said Dr. Santana. “This educational path has aligned with progressive leadership roles in my career. My career and education have transformed the way I think and approach life. I’m encouraged to be a transformational leader and help redefine nursing and healthcare.”

Undergraduate student speaker Caroline E. Prud’homme of Goffstown, New Hampshire, earned her B.A. in Elementary Education, summa cum laude. “I stand here today a much different person than I was a year ago, let alone when I started this journey four years ago,” said Prud’homme. “Rivier’s holistic approach to learning encompassed mind, body, and spirit. Rivier was committed to immersing us into our chosen fields, while shaping us all into well-rounded, global-thinking individuals … the human experience is something that we share, and we must encourage love and compassion to lead to unity. Seek good, spread good, and be the good.”

View images from the event.

Hours before the Commencement ceremony, Blessed Anne Marie Rivier, the Foundress of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary and Rivier University’s namesake, was canonized by Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The celebration recognized the qualities of faith, service, and love of neighbor that animated Saint Anne Marie’s ministry in education and social service to the poor and vulnerable. Her ministry lives on through the works of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary across the world and through the Rivier University community and alumni.

Offering an education grounded in the liberal arts and Catholic tradition, the University prepares students for the 21st-century workforce and offers a unique promise of employment to undergraduate students. Associate through doctoral programs are offered on campus and online. Rivier’s mission of transforming hearts and minds to serve the world is demonstrated through its academic programs in nursing, biology, public health, business, computer science, education, counseling, psychology, and more.