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Eastern awards more than 100 master’s degrees

Published on May 16, 2023

Eastern awards more than 100 master’s degrees

President Elsa Núñez congratulates graduates.

Jeffrey Brown '79, chief executive of the Wadsworth Atheneum, gave the keynote address.

Student speaker Susan Cote '06 received her master's degree in special education.

Class of 2023 master's degree candidates gather for a group photo.

More than 100 students received master’s degrees on May 13 during Eastern Connecticut State University’s 2023 Graduate Commencement and Hooding Ceremony.

Master of Science degrees were awarded in accounting, education and organizational management. President Elsa Núñez urged the graduates to “use your education to do good in the world” and create opportunities to lift each other higher and to stand against hate.

“You have worked diligently and tirelessly, with the help of the Eastern family,” she said, to become masters of a profession. “By delving deeper, you have risen higher.”

Jeffrey Brown ’79, chief executive officer of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, gave the keynote address, telling the graduates that his diverse career — from 35 years in banking and a leadership position at Webster Financial Corp. to being an executive at Newman’s Own, Inc., to his current position at the Wadsworth — has been driven by a sense of curiosity.

In banking he was involved in approximately 30 industry consolidations, and he threw himself into looking for new ideas, he said. At Newman’s Own, founder Paul Newman was “always ready to challenge the status quo by asking, ‘Why not?’” said Brown, pushing for innovation in natural food products and insisting that profits go to charity.

“Can you imagine a better environment in which to be curious and question the status quo?” Brown said of the Wadsworth, which through its history as the nation’s oldest public art museum has brought forward artists from the Hudson River School to the Baroque to Modernists.

He encouraged the graduates to embark on their own quest. “You have a proven desire to have a life by design versus a life by default,” he said, lauding their commitment to pursue higher learning. “Learn from every experience, and through it all, bring a great sense of curiosity,” he said.

Graduates take photos with President Elsa Núñez

Graduates march into the concert hall.

Taking pictures with friends at the ceremony

Families took photos in the concert hall foyer.

The clock tower was a popular spot for photos.

Graduates are congratulated by their families.

Susan Cote ’06, who received her master’s degree in special education, gave the student address. As a pre-school teacher for more than five years, she said she has learned from her students the power of staying present without an agenda.

“Children are innate teachers because they know intuitively how the present moment is all we have,” she said. As life’s demands — school, job, family — require attention, she said, “I offer you the constant reminder to stay in the moment and stay present.”

At the ceremony, held in the Fine Arts Instructional Center Concert Hall, Mya Millbauer ’24 sang “America the Beautiful” accompanied by music lecturer David Ballena. The Rev. Diane Peterson Seaborn, soon to be installed as the senior minister of Storrs Congregational Church, offered the benediction, holding 10 seconds of silence for graduates to remember and acknowledge those who have helped them become the person they are.

Written by Lucinda Weiss