News and Announcements

Regis to Honor Scientist, Humanitarian and Philanthropist at 2017 Commencement

March 21, 2017

Regis, a leading Catholic university in Greater Boston, will honor biomedical scientist and former Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Knatokie Ford, PhD; Sister Consilio Fitzgerald, SM, founder of the largest rehabilitation organization in Ireland; and John Fish, Chairman and CEO of Suffolk Construction, at its 87th commencement on Saturday, May 6th.

Dr. Knatokie FordDr. Ford will give the commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate of science, and Sister Consilio and Mr. Fish will receive honorary doctorate of laws degrees. Regis expects to graduate 700 students, awarding degrees ranging from the associate to doctoral levels.

“Regis is honored to welcome Knatokie Ford, Sister Consilio and John Fish to our campus,” said Regis President Antoinette Hays, PhD, RN. “They each have a passion for helping underserved populations and are role models for our graduates.”

An accomplished scientist, educator and leader, Dr. Ford became interested in science after a childhood accident left her blind in one eye and she began to wonder how things, including her eyes, worked. She credits a great high school chemistry teacher for enhancing her natural curiosity and interest in science.

Dr. Ford completed an accelerated five-year BS/MS program in chemistry at Clark Atlanta University. She then began a PhD program in biological and biomedical sciences at Harvard Medical School. The transition and culture shock of coming from a historically black university in the South to a northern Ivy League school damaged her confidence and left her feeling isolated. She opted to take a leave of absence after one semester to reevaluate her life and career goals.

Dr. Ford moved to Los Angeles to pursue another passion, the performing arts, and took a job as a middle school teacher in an underserved community. There she realized she had become an important role model to her students and gained a new perspective on the opportunity that awaited her at Harvard. That revelation motivated Dr. Ford to go back to finish what she started.

“I became passionate about diversity issues because of my experience and struggles as a graduate student at Harvard,” said Dr. Ford. “I’ve since realized that diversity is so important not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it is also a driver of innovation. Without it, we are missing out on great ideas.”

Dr. Ford’s interest in education led her to the AAAS Science and Technology Policy fellowship in Washington, D.C., and a position at the White House on the staff of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. After completing her fellowship, she served as a senior policy advisor designing and leading the “Image of STEM” initiative, which leverages the power of entertainment media to improve public perception of STEM in order to promote diversity in the workforce. This effort is included in the Top 100 science and technology accomplishments of the Obama Administration.

Sister Consilio FitzgeraldSister Consilio, a nurse and midwife, founded Cuan Mhuire (The Harbor of Mary) in 1966 after befriending many homeless men during her time working at St. Vincent's Hospital in Athy, Ireland. Cuan Mhuire has since helped more than 100,000 residents and become Ireland’s largest provider of addiction treatment with five centers and six transition houses.

Sister Consilio has received numerous awards including an honorary Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of her lifelong work in helping individuals and families suffering from alcoholism and other addictions.

“As a Catholic Irishman from Boston, I admire Sister Consilio and the work of Cuan Mhuire in rehabilitating those with life-threatening addictions,” said Regis Board of Trustees member Tom O’Neill, CEO of O’Neill and Associates. “Her work complements Regis’ mission of helping the dear neighbor. I am thrilled that Regis will honor Sister Consilio.”

John FishJohn Fish is chairman and CEO of Suffolk, one of the most innovative and successful private general building contractors in the country. Mr. Fish is a fixture on numerous boards focused on raising the competitiveness of the region, including the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, Jobs for Mass and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Fish is committed to creating opportunities for young people. He is the chairman of the board at Boston College, the first non-alumnus to ever fill that role. He is the founder and chairman of Scholar Athletes, a program that leverages the proven link between athletics participation and strong academic performance to improve the lives of inner-city high school students. Mr. Fish also serves on the boards of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, Boston Bruins Foundation and Camp Harbor View.

“Regis is such an important part of our community because it educates the whole person and provides our future leaders spiritual development opportunities founded on the teachings and core values of the Sisters of St. Joseph. I am deeply humbled and truly honored to receive an honorary degree from Regis,” said Mr. Fish.

Seating under the commencement tent on the Regis campus is limited. Members of the media should contact katya.rego@regiscollege.edu to receive a media pass. Commencement will begin promptly at 10 am. For more information about commencement logistics, please visit www.regiscollege.edu/commencement.

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