Nichols College Celebrates Class of 2019 at Commencement Ceremony

Massachusetts Lt. Governor Karyn Polito Gives Shout-out to Nichols Student and Entrepreneur Jared Williamson for Starting His Own Business — Mobile Whip



WORCESTER, Mass.—In her May 11, 2019, address to the 505 students graduating from Nichols College, Massachusetts Lt. Governor Karyn Polito spoke of the importance of having a figurative compass to define what it is that gives one’s life purpose.

“The purpose is what will light a fire inside you to make something better,” she told the graduates. “The purpose is what motivates you; it’s your drive.”

Nichols College’s Commencement ceremony was held at the DCU Center in Worcester, where 286 Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degrees; 37 Bachelor of Arts degrees; four Associate in Business Administration degrees; two dual BA/BSBA; and 176 graduate degrees (Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Accounting, Master of Science in Organizational Leadership; and Master of Science in Counterterrorism) were awarded. The students, their families and friends, faculty and staff, trustees, and other special guests were on hand to experience the inspirational messages delivered by keynote speaker Lt. Governor Polito, Nichols College President Susan West Engelkemeyer, Ph.D.; undergraduate valedictorian Sabrina B. Boermeester ’19, senior class speaker Daniel M. Baker ’19, and graduate student speaker Caitlin A. Llewellyn BSBA ’17 MBA ’19.

“We have been proud to mentor you, to challenge you, and to help you succeed and learn to lead,” President Engelkemeyer said in her remarks.“We know you leave us at your best—for now. Commencement, by definition, marks the time when something begins. Your time at Nichols was a dress rehearsal for what comes next, and your dress rehearsal prepared you well.

“We estimate that the full-time students in the Class of 2019 have given over 2,500 hours of community service and delivered over 10,500 presentations,” she added. “You have interned at organizations that include Framingham-Natick District Court, Mapfre Insurance, Mohegan Sun, and National Grid.”

President Engelkemeyer offered the graduates a piece of advice: “Waste no time in carving out those moments to do the things that make you truly happy. That may or may not be related to your job. If it’s not, it’s even more important, because that’s how you will find additional strength to deal with the ups and downs and disappointments that will inevitably come your way. And it will help you grow your leadership skills. I call it ‘leadership lessons from the other side of life.’

“Your Nichols education has equipped you with the tools you need to be a leader,” she added. “Now you need to add some inspiration that comes from your other side to be successful throughout life’s journey.”

Lt. Governor Polito was inaugurated on Jan. 8, 2015, as the 72nd lieutenant governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She and Governor Charlie Baker—who delivered the 2016 Nichols College Commencement address—were reelected to their second terms in November 2018 and inaugurated Jan. 3, 2019.

In her remarks on May 11, Lt. Governor Polito told the Nichols graduates there will be moments in their lives when they will find themselves at a crossroads and will need to make a choice.

“As we make the important decisions in our life, we need a compass,” she said. “And I define that compass as a purpose. My compass is centered on my family and service to others. Being a mother to two amazing kids—Bobby and Judy—and helping them grow and mature as responsible young adults, is the biggest joy and proudest achievement my husband Steve and I have in life. It’s absolutely what grounds us and motivates us each and every day.

“Helping others in your community is purposeful, and I’m blessed with the opportunity to do a whole lot on that front,” Polito added. “Now is the time and opportunity for you to calibrate your compass. Define what it is that gives your life purpose.”

Since taking office with Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito has visited and partnered with leadership in all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns, signing Community Compact agreements with every municipality on more than 800 smarter ways to deliver services. As co-chair of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Advisory Council, Lt. Governor Polito has encouraged further opportunities in STEM education to inspire more students to get involved in these important fields and better connect them to good careers. As chair of the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, she and a diverse team of professionals have brought innovative approaches to combating domestic violence.

Lt. Governor Polito is a graduate of Worcester’s Holy Name Central Catholic High School, Boston College, and the New England School of Law. A lifelong resident of Shrewsbury, she owns and operates a commercial real estate development firm and lives with her husband, Stephan M. Rodolakis; and two children, Bobby and Judy.

“I am honored to celebrate this important day with the Nichols College Class of 2019 as you reflect on your collegiate successes and embark on the next chapter in your lives,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “Your family and community at Nichols have helped you create the foundation for this exercise. You have the opportunity to be bigger than yourself, and to serve your communities in positive, impactful ways.”



 During the ceremony, honorary degrees were conferred upon Lt. Governor Polito (Doctorate of Public Administration) as well as two other distinguished individuals: Charles F. Monahan Jr. (Doctorate of Educational Leadership Administration); and the late Robert Miller, Ph.D. (Doctorate of Educational Leadership Administration).

A 1962 graduate of MCPHS University with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, Monahan became the fifth president of MCPHS University in 1997, after 35 years as a practicing pharmacist and successful businessman. Prior to his inauguration as president, Monahan served as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees for 18 years, the last six as its chairman. Under President Monahan’s leadership, MCPHS University has experienced unprecedented growth in enrollment, physical facilities, research, and endowment.

Miller was posthumously honored for his contributions to countless college students. He passed away in April, and his son accepted the honorary degree on his behalf.

Educated at the University of Connecticut—where he obtained his bachelor, master, and Ph.D. degrees—Dr. Miller built a career as a devoted leader, advocate, and champion of the Connecticut community college system.

He was the founding president of Quinebaug Valley Community College (QVCC)—which is one of four community colleges that partners with Nichols College in providing an affordable pathway for transfer students to continue their education toward a bachelor’s degree and beyond. During his 21 years of leadership, QVCC expanded to a 68-acre campus in Danielson, Conn., opened a satellite center in Willimantic, Conn., and continued to grow in its service and educational offerings to students.

He made many contributions to his community and profession as past chairman of the New England Board of Higher Education, and as a member of the Northeast Connecticut Alliance for Economic Development, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, Connecticut Humanities Council, Day Kimball Hospital, the Northeastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, and Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Norwich, among others.

A former member of the Nichols College Board of Trustees, Dr. Miller served as a sage and steadfast advisor to four Nichols presidents, a past chairman of the Academic Affairs Committee, and a member of the Nichols College Board of Trustees executive and governance committees.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Dr. Miller lived in Brooklyn, Conn., with his wife, Sylvia. They have five children, 13 grandchildren, and one great grandchild.


Valedictorian Sabrina B. Boermeester ’19

In her valedictory address, Boermeester, an accounting major from Billerica, Mass., recognized three fellow students who also achieved a perfect GPA like she did: “These women, in addition to myself, have flourished in all aspects of Nichols—including, but not limited to: athletics, club and organization involvement, work study, and various leadership positions campus-wide—all while maintaining a cumulative 4.0 GPA. Sarah Williams (of Enfield, Conn.), Mikayla Henault (of Grafton, Mass.), Jessica Booth (of Brookfield, Mass.), and Kaylin Goncalves (of Norwood, Mass.) are extraordinary representatives of Nichols College academics, and I am proud to represent it with them.”

She later said: “Success is not money. Success is happiness, love, meaning, and longevity. It’s about being able to jump through hoops and dodge obstacles and teaching others to do the same. Nichols has provided us with the base we need to be successful in a career. Now it’s our turn to teach ourselves how to not only survive, but also to live.It’s up to us to: learn how to redirect fear; lead through the surmounting of failure; and succeed in our futuresthat stand before us.”

Senior class speaker Daniel M. Baker ’19

Baker, a general business major concentrating in human resource managementfrom North Grosvenordale, Conn., shared with his peers the three lessons he learned while a student at Nichols: take risks; it’s OK to be different; and don’t be afraid to fail.

“This great school has awarded me some amazing opportunities throughout the past two years,” he said. “I have worked as a research intern, analyzing leadership characteristics and trends of our students. I have mentored some talented freshmen who have proved to me that perspective and motivation is everything.

“One of this school’s biggest differentiating programs—the Professional Development Seminar—prepared me for job interviews, how to present myself professionally, and how to own a career fair. During my second semester, I accepted an internship opportunity within my field of study—an opportunity I never would have gotten if I had not learned this first lesson: take risks.”

Added Baker: “If I had been afraid of being different, I would not have been given this tremendous opportunity. If I was afraid of messing up and missing shots, I would have avoided all risks and taken the safe road. And if I had taken the safe road, I would still be stuck at an entry-level job with pipe dreams. If I had not made that one decision, I would not have learned these three powerful lessons from Nichols.”

Graduate student speaker Caitlin A. Llewellyn BSBA ’17 MBA ’19

Graduate student speaker Llewellyn, of Webster, Mass., who received an MBA, said:

“To my fellow graduate students: Our time in the master’s program has allowed us to gain many valuable tools in order to achieve success. Collaboration, resource management, team development, and countless other themes drove our day-to-day learning—vital lessons for sure. My true hope is we will most cherish the irreplaceable lessons learned from each other.”



Lorraine U. Martinelle is director of public relations and social media at Nichols College. Email story ideas to



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