News and Announcements

Journalist and Pastor Liz Walker to Speak at Regis Commencement 2011

April 19, 2011

Mary Jane England ’59, MD, Regis College president, has announced that distinguished humanitarians to receive honorary degrees at the College’s 2011 commencement will be legendary local journalist, minister and Sudan activist Liz Walker; missionary Sister Clare Dawson, C.P., who has guided scores of Regis students volunteering in the clinic, school and community center in the village of El Salvador in Peru; and Loune Viaud of Partners in Health, who works on health and social justice issues in Cange, Haiti.

Commencement will be held Saturday, May 14, in the Tower Gardens at 10 a.m.

Regis College will confer some 500 degrees, including associate of science; bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of social work degrees; master of science degrees in nursing, health product regulation, communication, and leadership; master of arts in teaching degrees; and post-master's certificates in nursing. Sixteen (16) candidates will receive a doctorate of nursing practice or DNP, the second year of doctorates being conferred. Five candidates will receive a master’s degree in health product regulation.

This is the 81st graduation class for Regis, which was founded in 1927 by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston.

During her 25 years in Boston television, award-winning journalist Liz Walker brought quality, warmth, insight and solid values to the stories she covered. She made history as the first African-American anchor at a major Boston television station. She also made history when she left her stellar career to become a minister. As a member of the ministerial staff at Bethel AME Church in Jamaica Plain, she has been especially involved in the lives of young people.

Walker is a founder of the Jane Doe Fund, which helps victims of domestic violence. For the last decade, she has been heavily involved in war-torn Sudan, where she co-founded My Sister's Keeper, a grass roots initiative that advocates for women and children who are trying to rebuild their country and their lives. Liz returns to Sudan often, including to Darfur, the scene of the 21st century's first genocide. My Sister's Keeper has most recently completed the construction of a Girls' School for more than 500 girls in southern Sudan.

“We are honored to have Liz Walker as a Regis honorary degree recipient and speaker, “ said Regis College President Mary Jane England, MD. “She is an outstanding role model, showing that women can reach the pinnacle of their professions, build an outstanding career and, at the same time, make a huge difference in people’s lives here and on the other side of the globe,” she added.

For several years, Sister Clare Dawson, C.P. has guided Regis students, faculty and staff volunteers on spring break missions to Villa El Salvador, an impoverished Peruvian village with 400,000 people and a long history of struggle to build community. Sister Clare belongs to the order of Passionate Sisters aiming to reach out to the least of God’s children and works in a clinic, school and community center there.

“Sister Clare embodies the fundamental law of Christian life, love of God and love of neighbor. Her lifelong mission dovetails with the Regis effort to bring students to awareness of the importance of serving those whom our Sisters of St. Joseph call ‘the dear neighbor,’ wherever the dear neighbor is in need,” said President England. “For more than seven years Sister Clare has shown members of the Regis community a loving way to be in the world, and with this honorary degree Regis is adopting her as one of our own

Similarly, Loune Viaud has fought for health services as a basic human right at the Zanmi Lasante (Partners in Health) socio-medical complex in Cange, Haiti where she serves as the Director of Strategic Planning and Operations. Situated on the Central Plateau in rural Haiti, Zanmi Lasante offers free health care to the hundreds of thousands of people living in the region.

Zanmi Lasante has special clinics for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, a clinic for women (Proje Sante Fanm), a special center for children and an operating theatre. The complex also develops educational projects on HIV/AIDS, sanitation and human rights.

In the 1980’s, under the second Duvalier regime, Viaud advocated for democratic rights and was forced to flee the country. She organized her fellow refugees to safeguard their rights while waiting for asylum. In addition to working with Partners in Health, Viaud has collaborated with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

“From our own work on the Regis College Haiti Project, we have come to understand even better the work of Loune Viaud in helping the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere to make health care available as a basic human right,” said Dr. England. “We are honored to be able to honor her accomplishments at this year’s commencement.”

Commencement weekend will also include baccalaureate services, which begin Friday May 13, at 3:00 p.m., followed by a baccalaureate liturgy in the Regis College Fine Arts Center.


Regis College is a Catholic co-educational community that prepares undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students for engagement and service in a changing world. In the School of Liberal Arts, Education and Social Sciences and the School of Nursing, Sciences and Health Professions, approximately 1,600 students are enrolled in 17 undergraduate majors; 30 minors; 10 interdisciplinary pathways toward professional success; and master’s degree programs in education, communication, health administration, health product regulation, and nursing, and a doctoral program in nursing practice. U.S. News and World Report ranks Regis in the top tier of universities with master’s programs in the North. The College is listed by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) among benchmarking colleges for the quality of educational experience. With a strategic graduate focus on health care, Regis College was recently named a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League of Nursing. The College also provides accredited pre-school and kindergarten programs and a Life Long Learning Program (LLARC) for retired seniors.
CONTACT: Marjorie Arons-Barron, aronsbarron@barronaw.com; 617-423-7770

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