Cabrini University, along with its Board of Trustees and the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, graduated its Class of 2023 during Cabrini’s 63rd Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 21, at Nerney Field House inside the Dixon Center.
“Over 100 years ago, Saint Frances Cabrini, our namesake, urged her teachers to educate the hearts of their students,” said President Helen Drinan in her address to graduates. “She believed that education could and should link intellect with moral development. Attributes like empathy, compassion, sympathy, courage—I have already seen all of these critically important life skills among this class. We know you will take these forward with you through the rest of your lives.”
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Before the Field House was filled with jubilant cheers and applause from graduates’ family, friends, and supporters, the Ceremonies featured messages of hope and inspiration from esteemed students, administrators, and guests.
Theo Dini (ʼ23) and Natalie B. Overbeck (ʼ23) provided graduate reflections during the School of Arts and Sciences, and School of Business, Education, and Professional Studies ceremonies, respectively. Following Drinan’s address, Valedictorian Rachel Hetrick (ʼ23) offered an uplifting message to her classmates.
“Our purpose in becoming advocates is to work toward a world in which we can all breathe a little easier," Hetrick said. "Communities thrive when we no longer need…when we come alongside one another as advocates, our communities grow stronger and we can breathe a little easier. May we bring a sense of integrity everywhere we go as we become advocates for the people around us. May we carry a sense of hope into every situation, because we know our purpose: to breathe together, a little easier.”
The Class of 2023’s Commencement speaker Lucy Bustamante, a morning news anchor for NBC10 Philadelphia and breaking news anchor for Telemundo62, channeled Mother Cabrini’s calling in her address. Bustamante is a graduate of Cabrini High School in New Orleans and said her Cabrini connection is what ultimately brought her to Philadelphia as an adult.
“Today you have proved that you are capable of the most unselfish act: Learning beyond yourself,” Bustamante said. “My prayer for you is that you’ve chosen your vocation—your spiritual calling—like we saw in Mother Cabrini herself. A job brings a paycheck…a vocation is the work of a higher calling to create something for others that lives beyond your time on this earth.”
Bustamante also received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters during a private ceremony Saturday, May 20, at the Woodcrest Mansion. The ceremony also honored Bethany Van Brown, PhD, Associate Professor, Criminology, who earned Cabrini’s highest individual teaching honor in 2023, the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award.