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Fairfield's Sacred Heart University Celebrates 48th Commencement

Sacred Heart University student Alison Cubbellotti of Trumbull, receives her bachelor’s degree in nursing after taking two years off for a liver transplant. Her donor, John Vales ’10, left, assisted in the presentation with her godfather.
Sacred Heart University student Alison Cubbellotti of Trumbull, receives her bachelor’s degree in nursing after taking two years off for a liver transplant. Her donor, John Vales ’10, left, assisted in the presentation with her godfather. Photo Credit: Tracy Deer-Mirek

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- More than 1,600 Sacred Heart University students received diplomas and words of advice at the weekend commencement exercises at the Fairfield school.

The 48th commencement exercises concluded a year-long celebration of SHU’s 50th anniversary as more diplomas were awarded to graduate students than to undergraduates for the first time.

“It is exciting to reach this landmark in this anniversary year,” said Provost Laura Niesen de Abruna. “In 50 years, we have gone from a small, local liberal arts college with fewer than 200 undergraduates to an internationally recognized university with more than 50 strong program offerings for both graduate and undergraduate students.”

University President John J. Petillo advised the graduates to keep in mind the three words on the second bell in the Chapel bell tower—remember your dignity. “At times in your professional and personal life, you will inevitably be challenged to cross the line. Remember these years here where values, judgment and history offered you a context,” he said. “Never compromise your integrity, your name…Remember your dignity.”

In his address to the graduates, Ernie Anastos, news anchor for WNYW-TV in New York, encouraged the graduates to choose happiness. “As we become happier, we become better people—more compassionate, creative and energetic. We also become financially successful, more emotionally and physically healthy and we live longer,” he said.

Ernastos received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. James Costello, retired comptroller for General Electric and former member of the SHU Board of Trustees, received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, although he was unable to attend the ceremony.

Alison Cubbellotti of Trumbull, received her bachelor’s degree in nursing after taking two years off during her college years for a liver transplant. Her donor, John Vales Class of 2010, assisted in the presentation of her degree. “After everything I have been through, it is wonderful this day has finally come,” she said.

“We have a lot to be grateful for,” added her mother, Karen. “Not only did Sacred Heart provide her with a wonderful education, coming here saved her life.”

During Saturday’s graduate commencement, the keynote speaker was Sr. Kathleen Deignan ’71, a professor of religious studies, director of the Iona Spirituality Institute and a member of the Congregation of Notre Dame founded by Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys. She was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

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