Regis, a leading Catholic university in Greater Boston, presented more than 730 students with degrees ranging from associate to doctoral levels. Saturday’s celebration was the culmination of a week of exercises including pinning ceremonies, a graduate hooding, a Kente stole presentation and a baccalaureate mass. Additionally, students from Regis’ satellite campus in Lawrence participated in graduation ceremonies for the first time since it was launched in 2015.

As part of its 87th commencement, the university awarded Knatokie Ford, PhD, an honorary doctorate of science in recognition of her career as a biomedical scientist and senior advisor to President Obama. Sister Consilio Fitzgerald, SM, founder of Cuan Mhuire, Ireland’s largest rehabilitation organization, and John Fish, Chairman and CEO of Suffolk Construction, received honorary doctorates of law.

“Each of our honorary degree recipients embodies the spirit of Regis,” said President Antoinette Hays, PhD, RN. “They remind us to give generously, love unconditionally and never give up on our dreams.”

A graduate of Clark Atlanta University and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Ford’s accomplished career as a scientist and educator, 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 to President Obama, 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.

“Don’t leave any ‘what ifs’ on the table, but rather live a life such that if you have any regrets, they are for the things that you did rather than what you didn’t do,” Dr. Ford said in her keynote speech to graduates on Saturday. “Do not let your circumstances dictate your outlook on life, actively seek peace and joy. Attitude is everything and your attitude is one of the few things in life that you have absolute control over.”

Dr. Ford receives her honorary doctorate from President Hays.
Dr. Ford receives her honorary doctorate from President Hays.
From left to right: President Hays, Chair of the Regis Board of Trustees John Tegan, St. Consilio, Mr. Fish and Dr. Ford.
From left to right: President Hays, Chair of the Regis Board of Trustees John Tegan, St. Consilio, Mr. Fish and Dr. Ford.

Sister 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.

“There are so many similarities between Regis and Cuan Mhuire: home, family, and belonging,” Sister Consilio said at a reception after baccalaureate mass on Friday.

“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.”

John 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 athletic 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.