When it came time for Juan Felipe Herrera to address the Class of 2017 and their families and friends and well-wishers—numbering some 12,000 in all—naturally he offered his observations in verse. This was, after all, the poet laureate of the United States:
“Today is that new day—it is your turn now all yours to walk far to lose yourself in the harvest of fields to give seeds of meaning to all to gain knowledge.”
Sweeping and inclusive, his poem was part call and response—“a music of everyone’s voices,” as he put it. He titled it “Today Is A New Day.” We’re honored to bring you that poem beginning on page 8.
It was blue skies ahead (and above) for the ceremony at Buck Shaw Field in Stevens Stadium on the morning of June 17. Before Herrera shared his commencement poem, he received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, presented to him by one of his early mentors, Professor Emeritus Francisco Jiménez ’66. From 2012–14 Herrera served as California’s poet laureate, and he served two terms as poet laureate of the United States.
Also recognized with an honorary Doctorate of Public Service were Mike and Mary Ellen Fox, who for half a century have made Silicon Valley a better place through their remarkable philanthropy related to educational and charitable causes: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, caring for the sick, welcoming the stranger—and opening doors for students here at Santa Clara and elsewhere.
Astronomer Guy Consolmagno, S.J., was also honored for consistently aiming high—literally. As head of the Vatican Observatory, he has sought to broaden and deepen understanding of what lies beyond this planet, and to encourage a unifying view of faith and science.
Valedictorian Erika Francks ’17 spoke to her classmates about becoming a “person of value” rather than chasing success. An environmental studies major and management information systems minor, Francks studied abroad and served as a Global Fellow, studying green energy and sustainability in Denmark, and as a Global Social Benefit Fellow, working with a solar energy company in India. “I’ve watched you travel to build sustainable houses in Nepal and build tiny houses at home,” she said. “I’ve seen you spend countless hours at Washington Elementary School, working to establish programs to ensure students there can see the path to college … To me, this doesn’t sound like a generation that can’t commit.”
On the evening of June 16, Stevens Stadium was filled with students and families as well: The 870 graduates who earned advanced degrees in business, engineering, education, counseling psychology, and pastoral ministries celebrated their commencement during a ceremony at Buck Shaw Field.
The Jesuit School of Theology commencement celebration took place at the Pacific School of Religion Chapel in Berkeley on May 20. Fifty-five students were presented with advanced degrees. The school is one of only two Jesuit centers for the study of theology in the United States. Delivering the commencement address was Robert W. McElroy, STL ’85, bishop of San Diego. He explored the ascendance of the “pastoral theology” of Pope Francis, which “rejects a notion of law which can be blind to the uniqueness of concrete human situations, human suffering, and human limitation.”
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