Ben & Jerry's Co-Founder Delivers 2013 Commencement Address
Millions of college students cherish the moment of being awarded their diplomas at graduation each year. But not many can say that circuitous walk from their seat to the stage and back includes the presentation of a cup of ice cream, as well.
But the Class of 2013 at Southern can make that claim.
Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, handed out complimentary cups of Cookie Dough to the more than 1,200 undergraduates during May 18 commencement exercises at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. A total of 1,860 students were eligible to receive a diploma.
During his address to the graduates, Greenfield talked about the many failures endured by him and Ben Cohen, his business partner and friend since junior high school. Among the failures were in the education and job arenas. "I actually met Ben in gym class running around the track," he said. "We were the two slowest kids in class."
And when their ice cream business began to flourish, the two considered abandoning it for fear of becoming "business guys," a term they would regard as a pejorative. He said they had believed that businesses tended to be unscrupulous when it came to how they treated their employees, their communities and the environment.
"We decided to see if we could integrate our social and environmental concerns with the day-to-day business process," Greenfield said. And today, the company is known for its commitment to social responsibility and environmental awareness.
In a similar vein, Southern President Mary A. Papazian urged the graduates to pursue their own dreams. "Take time to savor the moment and don't be too concerned about mapping out your future. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."
She also asked the students to continue serving their communities and making a difference in people's lives, just as they have during their years at Southern. "Reaching out to the others, serving the community and finding meaning in your own life – this is what it's all about," she said.
Other speakers included: Jewel Mullen, member of the Board of Regents for Higher Education; New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.; Teresa Sirico, president of Southern's Alumni Association Board of Directors ; Marianne Kennedy, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs; and David Langer, president of the Class of 2013. James Furlong, university chaplain, delivered the invocation.
Among the graduates was Angela Read, a student who earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Read earned a perfect 4.0 GPA and was selected for the Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award, presented to four seniors each year who exemplify community/university service and who have at least a 3.7 GPA.
She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2009. Her mother, April Read, had given her a stethoscope as a graduation present at that time because of the way she took care of her mother while she battled lung cancer. She had asked that Angela give 100-percent effort in pursuing a degree in nursing, which she did. A month later, her mother passed away. Angela will begin working as an R.N. at Yale-New Haven Hospital in the medical oncology unit.
Another graduate was Daniel Trust (Ndamwizeye), whose parents and other family members were killed during the Rwandan genocide when he was only a child. He would later escape to Zambia with his sister's fiancé when he was 11 years old. Four years later, he got a visa to come to the United States. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and is now working at TD Bank in Fairfield.
On May 17, two graduate commencement exercises were held at the Lyman Center for the Performing Arts. The afternoon ceremony included the schools of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Health and Human Services. The evening session included the School of Education, as well as the announcement of the Distinguished Alumni Awards to four individuals who died in the Newtown shooting tragedy who had ties to Southern. They were presented in memory of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Mary Sherlach and Victoria Soto – the first three of whom earned master's degrees at Southern. Soto, who was still taking classes at Southern, was awarded her degree posthumously.
NEWS NOTE: The New Haven Register ran a story and picture related to the undergraduate commencement in its May 18, 2013 edition. It also posted many photos online. The Connecticut Post and the Hartford Courant also ran a photo in their May 18 editions, as well as having posted many photos online.
The following are links to the Register story and photo link, as well as the Post and Courant photo pages: