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Sr. Nora Nash Challenges Graduates to Embrace Hope, Change the World

Commencement 2015
Joy was the theme of the day across campus . . . view more photos


On a very warm spring day, under a cloudy sky, Neumann University awarded degrees to 706 students at its 49th commencement exercises. The May 16 ceremony filled the South Lawn of campus with more than 3,000 friends and families of the graduates, there to cheer the students and celebrate a significant milestone with them.


There were 31 doctoral degrees presented, 108 master’s degrees, 558 bachelor’s degrees, and nine associate degrees.


Sr. Nora Nash, OSF, a member of the Class of 1974, received an honorary degree and addressed the Class of 2015. “To all here present and especially to the graduating class of 2015, this is my challenge to you: Always be ready to give an accounting of the hope that is within you.”


“You have come here today with great hope because you are graduating,” she continued, “and you know that Catholic education in the Franciscan Tradition has enabled you to take seriously the claim that all was created in the image of God and through Jesus the Word.  St. Francis loved all creatures, all matter, and for us, too, every person and thing matters. Life matters, your goals for life matter, climate change matters, global poverty matters, working for change matters, getting a job matters, and certainly celebrating this day really matters.

“I have met many of you in your Franciscan theology classes, and you have inspired me with your reflections on corporate social responsibility. You have reflected on life, and your grasp on social and environmental issues is a testament to your growing awareness of your desire to be more engaged in actions for justice, peace, and solidarity.


“Neumann University and your parents have given you a language of hope through the core values that have been displayed - not only on the pillars of the Sports and Spirituality Center but by the lives of your administrators, faculty, coaches, staff, parents and one another. Not all are perfect, but you know that beauty has surrounded you on this campus and hope RISES (Reverence, Integrity, Service, Excellence and Stewardship). 


“These core values will enable you to be effective change agents in corporate structures and social systems that affect your everyday lives. It is our great hope that you now have the wisdom to give greater meaning to life, to be compassionate, and always be true to your inner selves even amid serious personal, cultural, economic and societal challenges.”


An advocate of peace, reconciliation and social justice, Sr. Nora has become known as the conscience of Wall Street for taking on corporate powerhouses such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, CitiGroup, Mellon, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. She and her colleagues at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) argue that banks should protect consumers, roll back executive salaries and promote a just economy.


The ICCR is a multi-denominational group, which monitors investments from an ethical and moral perspective, and buys just enough shares in corporations to have a voice at shareholder meetings.


Her goal of injecting morality into boardroom discussions doesn’t stop with the world of finance. She and ICCR associates have met with executives from Walmart, McDonald’s, Hasbro, BP, Boeing, General Electric and others to discuss issues that range from nuclear arms and childhood obesity to farm workers’ rights and the minimum wage. She is also very involved with the issues of human trafficking and hydraulic fracturing, advocating passionately on behalf of those without a voice in the legal and corporate spheres of influence.


Recognized internationally for her shareholder advocacy work, she has been the subject of news coverage by The New York Times, the Guardian, Time magazine and National Public Radio.


Born in County Limerick, Ireland, Sr. Nora was professed as a Sister of St. Francis of Philadelphia in 1961 and then served as a Catholic school teacher or administrator until 1993. She is a graduate of Neumann University and currently serves as director of Corporate Social Responsibility for the Sisters of St. Francis, the congregation that founded Neumann in 1965. She manages the congregation’s assets for responsible investment and supervises community development loans and social justice grants.


Danielle Caratello, valedictorian for the Neumann University Class of 2015, asked her classmates to reflect on what Neumann has meant to them.


“We have accomplished what we have set out to do,” she told her classmates, “and now a new adventure is awaiting, filled with endless possibility and excitement.


“Receiving an education is the most powerful force in the world. It allows you to remain curious, interested, and even resourceful. It is a gift that enables you to achieve your wildest dreams and to live the life you have always imagined, so never take it for granted … I wish you all nothing but happiness as you continue to live your life to the fullest and pursue the dreams you have always imagined.”


Lauren Shipman, who received a salutary award at the April 24 Academic Awards Convocation, also addressed her classmates through Dr. Gerard O’Sullivan, the vice president for academic affairs. The award is conferred upon a non-traditional or part-time undergraduate student with a GPA of 3.8 or above, a demonstrated record of campus service, and a shown dedication to our mission and identity. 

“During our time at Neumann, we have not only gained an excellent education, but we have also learned the value of caring for others,” she recalled. “As we depart the graduation stage with diplomas in hand and begin the next chapter in our lives, we must remember to strive to challenge ourselves, conquer our fears, and explore endless possibilities. Let’s make Neumann proud by embracing our future.”




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