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Robert Kraft encourages Suffolk University graduates to help others, follow passion

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  May 19, 2013 05:49 PM

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By Johanna Kaiser, Town Correspondent

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft urged graduating Suffolk University students to define and stay true to their core values in order to live a meaningful and happy life.

“Life will be distracting. Let those values serve as your moral compass. Return to them and let them guide you through life’s many adventures," Kraft told the 1,175 students receiving their graduate and undergraduate degrees from Suffolk University’s College of Arts & Sciences commencement ceremony at Bank of America Pavilion Sunday afternoon.

Kraft, chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group, told students they needed guts, passion, and service—or GPS—to help guide them through life.

“Outworking your competition is a lot easier to achieve if you’re passionate about what you are doing,” Kraft said. “Choose the opportunities that challenge you, that stimulate your mind, and that motivate you. Choose the opportunities that are most rewarding—not financially—but personally and professionally.”

Despite the chilly temperatures and wind, students cheered, smiled and waved as the camera panned over the crowd of black gowns and decorated mortarboards during the afternoon ceremony that was part of the university’s two days of celebration. Their images were projected on a big screen for the crowd to see.

Sunday morning, 1,100 students were awarded degrees from the Sawyer Business School, and on Monday more than 475 students will receive degrees from the Suffolk University Law School.

While students and their families and friends cheered from the stands at the Arts & Sciences commencement, the lively celebration was at times somber as they reflected on the events of the Boston Marathon bombings that shook the city and the and the school’s downtown campus. They took a moment to honor the first responders.

Suffolk University President James McCarthy praised Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis for his years of work in Boston and his department’s response to the Boston Marathon bombings before awarding him an honorary doctorate of public service.

"Your sterling leadership during the Boston Marathon bombing crisis won global admiration. Your strength became our strength,” McCarthy said.

Davis’ daughter Kaitlyn Davis also graduated during the ceremony with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

Kraft, too, praised the bravery and teamwork of the first responders during the Boston Marathon bombing and the subsequent manhunt.

“In the hours, days, and weeks following the blasts, Boston prevailed. We witnessed heroism and teamwork, and as a result we felt great pride and patriotism,” Kraft said. “In Boston we often refer to our sports legends as heroes, but last month on Marathon Monday, on Patriots’ Day, we were reminded who the real heroes were.”

He encouraged students to be “first responders” in every day life to improve their lives, the lives of others, and the community as a whole, through service.

“You don’t have to wait for tragedies to occur to rush to the aid of those in need,” Kraft said. “Help a complete stranger, hold doors open for others, show others respect, make a small donation to a worthy cause, perform random acts of kindness.”

Before the ceremony, Davis told reporters he may lead the police department, but the heroes were the officers on the street.

“The truth of the matter is every officer that was out there that ran towards that bombing performed heroically,” Davis said. “Those are the men and women we really have to celebrate here.”

Award-winning author and historian David McCullough also received an honorary doctorate of humanities; Karen Kaplan, CEO of advertising firm Hill Holliday, received an honorary doctorate of Letters; Kraft received an honorary doctorate of public service for his philanthropy. 

E-mail Kaiser at Johanna.yourtown@gmail.com. For more news about your city, town, neighborhood, or campus, visit boston.com’s Your Town homepage.

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