John Kerry to Deliver 138th University Commencement Address

On Monday, May 19, U.S. Secretary of State and former Senator from Massachusetts John F. Kerry, BC Law ’76, will deliver the address at the University’s 138th Commencement Exercises.

University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. will also present Kerry with an honorary Doctor of Laws at the ceremony, to be held at 10 a.m. in Alumni Stadium. The Commencement Exercises will proceed as a two-part ceremony, with the University Commencement, or main ceremony, beginning at 9:15 a.m.

The main ceremony will be followed by individual school and college diploma presentations, during which approximately 4,000 graduating seniors will receive degrees, and are slated to finish no later than 2 p.m.

Kerry completed his undergraduate studies at Yale University in 1966 with a major in political science. As a sophomore, Kerry was named the Chairman of the Liberal Party of the Yale Political Union in 1963 and competed as a top debater among college students across the country. He later earned his law degree from BC in 1976, and went on to work as an assistant district attorney and then the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts under Michael Dukakis from 1983-85.

Prior to graduating from Yale, Kerry enlisted to serve in the U.S. Naval reserve in 1966 and served two tours of duty throughout Vietnam, where he was wounded by shrapnel in 1968 and again in 1969.

Having served as the head of a Swift boat-or Fast Patrol Craft (PCF)-along a peninsula close to Cam Ranh Bay, Kerry was wounded by shrapnel as a result of enemy open fire. Almost four months later, Kerry’s boat was again subjected to enemy attack, and he was wounded by shrapnel in his left leg. He would later receive two Purple Hearts for his action in duty.

Upon returning to the U.S., Kerry embarked on a lifelong campaign for veterans as a co-founder of the Vietnam Veterans of America, and later as a senator, where he lobbied for veterans’ benefits, extensions of the GI Bill for Higher Education, and the improvement of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a report from the Office of News and Public Affairs.

Kerry announced his candidacy in the 2004 presidential campaign alongside vice presidential candidate and then-senator from North Carolina John Edwards. Following the team’s democratic bid for the presidency, Kerry and Edwards eventually conceded the race on Nov. 3, 2004.

After Kerry had served 28 years in the U.S. Senate, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved him as the U.S. Secretary of State on Jan. 29, 2013, after his nomination by President Barack Obama in December 2012.

During this year’s Commencement Exercises, the University has announced that it will also present honorary degrees to former Boston Celtics player, former BC basketball head coach, and basketball Hall of Fame member Bob Cousy; award-winning innovator in the field of nursing Ann Riley Finck, BC ’66; president and CEO of Urban Health Plan (UHP), Inc. Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez, BC ’76; and Robert Morrissey, a University trustee and senior partner of Boston-area law firm Morrisey, Hawkins, and Lynch.

Cousy, a New York City native who played college basketball at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. before being drafted to the Boston Celtics in 1950, won six NBA championships with the Celtics and was later inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1971. Immediately after playing for the Celtics, Cousy joined BC as the head coach of the men’s basketball team in 1963, where he would lead the Eagles to three NIT appearances and stay until 1969, before coaching the Cincinnati Royals from 1969-73.

Finck is currently a Neuro-ICU nurse and nurse practitioner at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, and a graduate from the Connell School of Nursing. Upon graduating from BC, Finck spent a year serving in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, and she would later go on to become a founding member of the Council for Women of BC (CWBC)-an organization focused on connecting female undergraduates with leading alumnae through career advice and leadership development.

A graduate from the Class of 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Izquierdo-Hernandez now serves as the president and CEO of UHP, a network of community centers located throughout New York City-namely the South Bronx and Queens-which provides health services to more than 50,000 patients.

After earning a degree in economics in 1960 and later being named to the University’s Board of Trustees in 1980, Morrissey has made significant contributions to BC’s investment and Endowment Committee, and played a critical role in the University’s Ever to Excel capital platform, according to a report from the Office of News and Public Affairs.

At Commencement, Cousy will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree; Finck will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Nursing Science degree; Izquierdo-Hernandez will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Social Science degree; and Morrissey will be presented with an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree.


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Connor Farley was a copy editor and news editor for The Heights. You can probably find him at a Phish show.