One Fund Boston administrator tells Curry College grads he will distribute all money to bombing victims next month
In a moment of jubilation, members of the Curry College graduating class of 2013 on Sunday were reminded of moments of tragedy.
Commencement speaker Kenneth R. Feinberg, the administrator of One Fund Boston, told the 680 Curry graduates that the fund would distribute the available money to the victims of the April 15 Marathon bombings and their families next month.
“In just one month, One Fund Boston has received over $30 million from thousands and thousands of individual donors around the world, all determined to help their neighbors confront unspeakable horror,” Feinberg said. “Next month I am determined to distribute all available money to the victims of the bombings and their families.”
Even before Feinberg began to speak, graduates, faculty, and guests at the graduation ceremony commemorated a tragedy even closer to home for the college: the death of Curry College junior Evan Bard in an automobile accident last weekend.
College President Kenneth K. Quigley, Jr., called for a moment of silence honoring Bard as well as Jerald S. Savage, treasurer of the Board of Trustees who died in August 2012. Savage was awarded a posthumous Honorary Doctor of Public Administration at the graduation, accepted by his wife Sheryl Forman Savage later in the ceremony.
Feinberg, who opened his speech promising to be brief, told graduates they had the right to be proud of the accomplishment the graduation ceremony represented. However, he cautioned them against assuming their degree was a guarantee of success.
He invoked his experience administering funds for other tragedies, including the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007.
“If I have learned one lesson in my professional life, teeming with unforeseen tragedy and misfortune, it is this: take nothing for granted,” Feinberg said. “Life has a way of throwing curve balls at all of us.”
Feinberg advised students not to give up, even when the road looked unpassable, and that there were both good and difficult times ahead.
“We as a nation have a vested stake in you,” Feinberg said, summing up his remarks. “Your personal happiness and success benefit all of your fellow citizens in the United States of America.”
The class orators included some students who had already faced some of life’s difficulties.
One was Graduate Studies orator Bachir Y. Kouta, who received a graduate degree in criminal justice on Sunday.
Kouta was born in Africa and came to America with his mother and four siblings. His mother had little more to provide her children other than her hope and courage, Kouta said.
“When we got here life was extremely difficult as we struggled with the language barrier and the sudden changes to our lives,” Kouta said.
In studying at Curry College, Kouta said was able to pursue his education.
“What I’ve learned about education is that it is unbiased,” Kouta said. “Education does not belong to a particular race, gender, creed, religion, or sexual orientation.”
Continuing education orator Jean Griffin, who said during her speech that she was over 60, said she felt like the luckiest woman in the world to be graduating and delivering a speech on behalf of her classmates.
Undergraduate orator Megan B. McGrath told her classmates she would miss the familiar “Hey” and “Wassup” greetings she had gotten used to on campus, but that great things awaited in the future.
Graduate Olivia Flynn received her degree in nursing, and hoped to get a job n a medical surgery unit near Boston. She said she appreciated Feinberg’s remarks about tragedy.
“Being from Boston, it meant a lot,” Flynn said.
Michael Vernik, a criminal justice major, said the ceremony was well put together, and he was pleased the college was able to get Feinberg to speak.
He also appreciated the tribute to Bard.
“I wasn’t close to her, but it is a small campus and you sort of get to know everyone,” Vernik said. “It was really nice of them to do that for her.”
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