“Shoulders Back, Toes Out, Move Forward”
President Antoinette M. Hays, PhD, RN
May 12, 2012
Dear Graduates, before I begin I’d like to acknowledge Sister Elizabeth Cawley, CSJ, who is presiding at this Commencement at the conclusion of her role as Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, Education and Social Science. Sister Betty… [APPLAUSE]
Dear Graduates, families, friends. You have just marched up the hill to this increasingly crowded Commencement tent. You have just taken your seats for our Regis College community celebration of your accomplishments.
We applaud you.
Board Chair Donna M. Norris, MD; honorary degree recipient and commencement speaker, Amy Lind Corbett ’79, Esq., regional head of FAA; President Antoinette M. Hays, PhD, RN; honorary degree recipient and commencement speaker, Carolyn Lynch, President of the Lynch Foundation
And my word to you is “Shoulders Back, Toes Out, Move Forward!”
It is advice my mother, a dancer and CEO of a dance school gave me all my life. It is advice I give you for your lives. The march up the hill is not your last march; it is the beginning of something new. The march up the hill is not a finale; it is but the prelude. Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances, said poet Maya Angelou.
And I know from the videos of the recent hip hop concert on campus that the undergraduates on this campus know how to dance, how to rap, and how to make poems.
Peter and Carolyn Lynch at the podium
Our English professors have reminded me of a line from William Butler Yeats: “Who can tell the dancer from the dance?” Our science professors tell me that the dance is the dance of life, cosmic, chemical, biological. And the economists point to the procession out of our national recession, the emergence of more and more jobs, and the challenge of new markets, whether in education, business, health administration, or something else. Our clinicians face the dance every day in contemporary hospitals and clinics. Sometimes you may be dancing in the rain; other times, you will be flying like Billy Elliot.
In today’s world, even the experts do not know all the opportunities there are to be creative, innovative, and productive. In this presidential election year, with the announcement that the war in Afghanistan is winding down, we live at a time when numerous institutions are reconfiguring. Like the Sisters of Saint Joseph, you will be the ones who will divide up the city, identify the needs of each sector, and find new, entrepreneurial ways to meet them. That’s what will grow our national economy and bring new beginnings to the world.
And so, dear graduates, dressed in the colors of your new degrees, you are the dancers entering the world stage. The beat, the rhythm, the synchronicity is all up to you now. The performance will be what you make it. We are sending you forth.
I urge you to stay connected, stay together. Be true to who you are and what you have learned, the body of truth and relationship. As Agnes de Mille once observed, “The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music. Bodies never lie.”
As you leave Regis College as Regis people, remember: Whether you are graduating as a doctor of nursing practice, a master of science, a bachelor, or an associate, come back to your alma mater and tell us where you have been, what you have done, and what your hope is for your fellow human beings, our “dear neighbors,” and how you are helping to fulfill it. For that is the dancer you are now.
“Shoulders back, Toes Out, Move Forward.” The world expects it of you, and so do I. God bless you.