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Fairfield University Celebrates At 65th Annual Commencement

The Rev. James Martin speaks at Fairfield University's commencement ceremony Sunday. Photo Credit: Contributed
The Rev. Gregg Boyle is one of the speakers at Fairfield University's commencement ceremony Sunday. Photo Credit: Contributed

FAIRFIELD, Conn. - Fairfield University held its 65th annual commencement ceremony in a sun-splashed and joyful atmosphere on Sunday.

This year's commencement speakers were New York Times best-selling author Rev. James Martin, S.J., and Rev. Greg Boyle, S.J., founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.

Martin received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters and spoke about his path to becoming a Jesuit priest after six years of working at General Electric.

As he considered becoming a priest, Martin spoke to the Jesuits at Fairfield University. “If it weren’t for Fairfield, I wouldn’t be a Jesuit.”He went on to write “Jesus: A Pilgrimage” and “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything.”

Martin urged the graduates to “be yourself.  God does not make crap, as Jesus said.”

Boyle spoke about Homeboy Industries, an agency specializing in job training, education and mental health services for former gang members. “They used to shoot bullets at each other. Now they shoot text messages. There’s a word for that, it’s called ‘kinship.’”

The university also honored Fairfield University graduate John C. Meditz; Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson; and Clea Newman Soderlund of Fairfield, daughter of Paul Newman, with honorary degrees.

Meditz was honored for his work as a longtime trustee. Robinson, who grew up in North Stamford, earned the honor for her work as a nurse, midwife and educator, and for teaching at Yale and Georgetown, among other universities.

Soderlund, honored for her philanthropy, is the founder and senior director of external affairs at the SeriousFun Children’s Network, a global community of independently managed camps and programs that service serious ill children free of charge. She is also on the board of trustees for Newman’s Own, a nonprofit her father started, of which all of the profits go to charity.

The total number of degrees awarded by the University included 884 bachelor's degrees, 367 master's degrees, 18 certificates of advanced study, and 21 doctorates.

Margaret Siu of Shelton delivered the valedictory address, along with receiving her biochemistry degree from the College of Arts and Sciences.

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