Three students wearing graduation robes taking a selfie.
University News | 12/19/2023

Taking the Next Big Step: Commencement Honors December Graduates

By Jennifer Persons

Three students wearing graduation robes taking a selfie.

Commencement speakers encouraged MCPHS graduates to move forward with confidence and trust their abilities.

“It is the people in this room whose tenacity will drive the solutions and provide hope for a healthier world,” said Marion Calabro, Bachelor of Science in Nursing ’23, addressing her classmates as they prepared to graduate from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS).

On Tuesday, the University celebrated 400 students from the Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, School of Medical Imaging and Therapeutics, School of Nursing, and School of Physician Assistant Studies—Manchester/Worcester who earned their degrees this December. President Richard J. Lessard presided over the Commencement exercises held at the DCU Center in Worcester.

Calabro told the crowd—including family, friends, faculty, staff, and alumni—that her path to a healthcare career began nearly a decade ago when the death of a loved one inspired her to help others. Everything was on track until she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, complicating her plans to pursue an accelerated program.

“An amazing thing happened: my peers were supportive and shared their notes, and my professors made sure I remained on track,” Calabro shared. “The MCPHS Community believed in me, and in turn, I believed in myself.”

Through her trials and challenges, Calabro realized she wasn’t alone.

“What I find extraordinary is that while the details of my journey are unique to me, the underlying story is not,” Calabro said. “I have met so many fellow students who have faced adversity and overcome it to enter a healthcare profession, to be the person who helps others achieve their well-being.”

The alumni Commencement speaker encouraged graduates to trust their abilities and determination as they begin this new phase.

“Don’t be afraid of taking that next big step,” said Marli Caslli, Master of Science in Regulatory Affairs ’21, Master of Public Health ’19. “I implore you to take opportunities that come your way because each one will present a new moment to learn, a new moment to grow, and a new moment to become you.”

At 26 years old—and in the middle of the pandemic—Caslli became the youngest person to serve as Commissioner of Public Health for the City of Quincy. While he admitted his journey hasn’t been easy, Caslli said he has leaned on his MCPHS education to help him overcome challenges.

“I’m glad to tell you that all the things you’ve learned here, the conversations you’ve had, and the people you’ve met will reach far beyond the classroom,” he said. “It will forever shape how you view healthcare and the people you serve.”