Boston Medical Center President and CEO Kate Walsh advised Suffolk University College of Arts & Sciences graduates “your life is not on your phone screen. So please stop looking there.”

Walsh gave the address as 1,100 undergraduate and advanced degrees were conferred at the College’s commencement exercises on May 18 at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on the Boston waterfront.

Walsh, who has brought improved access to quality health care to some of the state’s poorest patients, also talked about the difference between being entitled and needing entitlements, noting that graduates have a role to play “in making sure that you do everything you can to live in a world where you and the rest of our species are entitled to basic human rights, basic human dignity and basic human kindness.”

She talked about the benefits of a liberal arts education through her own perspective as a public health leader:

“Researchers … could have a breakthrough discovery. These discoveries could become medicines, those medicines have to be priced—all you finance and accounting majors; packaged —graphic design; sold—marketing and communications; distributed—you get my point; and delivered to patients.”

Walsh’s remarks were peppered with humor as she counseled graduates, and she even gave a hint of how she prepared for her speech.

“There are tons of websites on how to write a commencement address—which encourage the writer to avoid clichés even as they list topics like pay it forward; dream big; or—my favorite—follow your passion, which can sometimes be mistaken for “stalking your ex,” she said. “There are many uplifting and inspiring graduation speeches out there. This is not one of them, so please Google one of them when you are feeling the need for encouragement.”

Instead she focused on the practical: “how to get and keep a job; how to try to balance work and family.”

“I hope you have the wonderful challenge of balancing your life and your work. Both are really important. Life is hard; balancing work and family is hard, she said. “Please be the person who arranges birthday dinners or pickup basketball games; show up, help clean up, look up and smile. As humans we crave and we are, dare I say, entitled to a human connection.”

“If you build your career with wisdom and hard work; and you build your life with care and commitment, you won’t have a perfect life, but you will live the life you are entitled to.”

Student Statistics

College or Arts & Sciences bachelor’s degrees: 858
College or Arts & Sciences advanced degrees: 242

Honorary degrees

The following honorary degrees were awarded during Suffolk University College of Arts & Sciences exercises:

  • Walsh, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree
  • Sam G. Berns, who made a significant contribution to science through his willingness to shed light on Progeria while inspiring people to live life to the fullest, honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, posthumous
  • Beverly A. Morgan-Welch, executive director of the Museum of African American History, who has worked diligently to tell the stories of emancipated and liberated black communities in New England, honorary Doctor of Public Service degree

Sawyer Business School

State Street Corporation Chair, President and CEO Joseph L. “Jay” Hooley spoke at Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School commencement exercises in the morning of May 18 at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. During his tenure at State Street, Hooley has helped build and strengthen units involved in a variety of tasks, from data and shareholder services to acquisitions and corporate technology. He has positioned State Street as a global leader in providing financial services to institutional investors. Hooley received an honorary Doctor of Commerce degree.

Suffolk University Law School

Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman spoke at Suffolk University Law School commencement exercises May 17 at the Citi Performing Arts Center –Wang Theatre in Boston’s Theatre District. Foxman, a worldwide leader in the fight against bigotry, is a Holocaust survivor who joined the ADL in 1965 and has devoted his life to fighting anti-Semitism, bigotry and discrimination throughout the world. The Law School granted Foxman an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) also gave remarks. The senator received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree.