Salve Regina graduates cheer classmates as they receive their diplomas during the 74th Commencement in Newport. Photo by Andrea Hansen Photography

Salve Regina University Celebrates Historic Commencement with Largest Graduating Class

In a ceremony filled with pride and reflection, Salve Regina University President Dr. Kelli J. Armstrong conferred 530 bachelor’s degrees upon the Class of 2024 today. This milestone event followed a separate ceremony on Thursday, May 16, where the University awarded 271 master’s degrees, 19 doctoral degrees, and three Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees. The total number of graduates, 823, marks the largest graduating class in the University’s history.

Renowned author, scholar, and policy analyst Susan Eisenhower delivered the Commencement address, inspiring graduates with a message rooted in Salve Regina’s values of mercy, leadership, and service. “As you begin your post-graduation journey, embrace the unexpected — even the assignments that may at first disappoint you. Learn from them. Reflect on them. Don’t shortchange yourself by living so fast and ambitiously that you miss the enduring lessons that come every day, no matter what job or assignment. You will be the better for it, as will everyone who will come to depend on you,” Eisenhower advised.

Salve Regina University President Dr. Kelli Armstrong addresses graduates during the 74th Commencement in Newport. Photo by Andrea Hansen Photography

Eisenhower illustrated her message with stories from her grandfather, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Despite early disappointments in roles training the U.S. military’s first Tank Corps and writing an Army guidebook in Europe, these experiences proved pivotal in his ascent to Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces and later President of the United States. Her recent book, “How Ike Led: The Principles Behind Eisenhower’s Biggest Decisions,” has received international acclaim, highlighting the timeless qualities of successful leadership.

In addition to Eisenhower’s address, honorary degrees were conferred upon James T. Brett, president and CEO of The New England Council; Christine Kavanagh, R.S.M., president of ReFocus, Inc., and a member of Salve’s board of trustees; and Gloria Purvis, an author and Catholic commentator.

President Armstrong also addressed the graduates, praising their resilience, particularly in overcoming the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s amazing to see what you have accomplished and what you have experienced while you were here at Salve,” Armstrong said. “What I am most proud of is that throughout it all you never lost sight of those in need — our mercy commitment of service to the community was central to your life here.”

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and Newport City Council Vice Chair Lynn Underwood Ceglie were present to offer their congratulations. Sen. Reed expressed confidence in the graduates’ future contributions, stating, “I am confident that all of you in the class of 2024 will find a way to make your own mark and serve a purpose higher than yourself. Today more than ever our world needs your combination of knowledge, talent, and most of all, mercy.”

Valedictorian Cailin Aline Martin, one of four valedictorians, echoed the sentiment of service and community. “Our class inspires me and gives me hope for the future and the world, because Salve afforded us endless opportunities as artists, athletes, and scholars, but instead of focusing on personal gain, our class commits to the critical concerns of mercy for earth, immigration, anti-racism, women, and nonviolence,” Martin said.

The ceremony closed with Armstrong reminding the graduates, “We measure our success as an institution by the good that you do in the world.” She encouraged them to utilize their education in mercy, critical thinking, and discernment to be forces of healing and reason in turbulent times.

The other valedictorians for the Class of 2024 were Sofia Elizabeth Abuin, Ashley Louise Lefebvre, and Jessica Marie Roberts, all of whom were recognized for their exceptional academic achievements and commitment to Salve Regina’s mission of service and leadership.

Salve Regina University graduates process past Ochre Court as they make their way on campus to the 74th Commencement in Newport. Photo by Andrea Hansen Photography




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