Judge Greg Mathis addressed 225th Becker College Commencement

Published on Monday, May 13th, 2013

Commencement 2013Judge Greg Mathis delivered the keynote address at Becker College’s 225th commencement ceremony, held on Saturday, May 11, 2013, at 11:00 a.m., at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester. The focus of the historic anniversary was Celebrating a History of Changing Lives, and the May 11 Commencement ceremony capped Becker’s year-long celebration of its 225th Commencement anniversary.

Three hundred and thirty five candidates for graduation participated in the commencement ceremony and received bachelor of science, bachelor of arts, and associate of science degrees.

Judge Mathis addressed the enthusiastic Class of 2013, exhorting them to “make your lives matter.” He shared his story of challenges: after finishing law school and passing the bar, he was made to wait for three years before he was allowed to receive his license to practice law because of his past criminal record. He encouraged the graduates to persevere, even when the door to opportunity may seem closed.

Becker College bestowed upon Judge Mathis an honorary doctorate degree of humane letters. Mathis was honored for his commitment to advocating for equal justice and for his career of public service.

“Judge Mathis’s journey from his troubled youth on the streets of Detroit to his distinguished career as a judge, television host, and philanthropist is an inspiring tale of individual achievement and social responsibility,” said Becker College President Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D.  “At Becker, we believe there is no limit to the heights that can be reached by individuals who refuse to accept limits and insist on the pursuit of opportunity. Judge Mathis is the personification of that vision.”

In addition to hosting his eponymous award-winning television court show, Mathis is dedicated to offering youth second chances and spreads his message of empowerment and equal justice as he speaks to audiences all across the country. His national education and youth crusades have attracted tens of thousands of parents and students throughout America.

In his efforts to reach out to youth both in and outside of the courtroom, Judge Mathis and his wife, Linda, have assisted thousands of youth with their non-profit agency Young Adults Asserting Themselves (Y.A.A.T.), an outreach initiative that provides youth ages 17-25 with career and job opportunities as well as job training and college enrollment assistance.

They have also opened five non-profit preschools in the inner city of Detroit, while continuing to raise funds for a variety of equal justice political and youth causes.

The College also awarded an honorary doctoral degree to Worcester, Mass. City Manager Michael V. O’Brien. O’Brien was recognized for his career of service to the city and the citizens of Worcester.

“We are proud to honor City Manager O’Brien with one of two honorary degrees we will award this year,” said Becker College President Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D. “Mr. O’Brien has worked with leaders throughout the Commonwealth and capitalized on Worcester’s strengths to begin a lasting transformation. His contributions and commitment to this city are a source of inspiration and resonate with the Becker College mission.”

Becker College awards honorary doctoral degrees to individuals who merit its highest recognition by attaining achievements of extraordinary and lasting distinction and demonstrating personal and professional qualities that are consistent with the mission and values of Becker College.

Appointed city manager in 2004, the overarching theme of O’Brien’s administration has been to preserve, protect, and enhance the quality of life for all residents and resident businesses in Worcester. Worcester, New England’s second largest city, is now rated one of the safest communities of its size in the country and is experiencing more than $2.4 billion in economic development activity.

Under O’Brien’s leadership, Worcester is in the midst of one of the most aggressive economic development agendas in the Commonwealth today.  Major public and private investments underway include: the first phases of the City Square project in Downtown, valued at nearly $200 million; a $23 million dollar expansion for the very successful DCU Arena ; and hundreds of other new projects, both large and small, building off the foundation of the assets of the City and better positioning the community for the 21st century.  This includes the enhancements to mass-transit, such as the new $11 million Worcester Regional Transit Authority headquarters in Washington Square – complementing the area as the region’s inter-modal transportation center with daily MBTA commuter rail service to Boston and Amtrak service to several major cities.  Most recently, O’Brien was instrumental in bringing JetBlue Airways to the Worcester Regional Airport.

Additional awards of distinction were presented to graduating seniors. The President’s Award, which recognizes a graduate who has shown outstanding school spirit, leadership, and community service, was presented to Brooke Cote (veterinary science, pre-vet). Theresa Boulier (honors psychology) received the Samuel May Award, which recognizes a graduate who has shown scholastic achievement, excellence in character, and leadership.

Dean’s Awards, given to the graduates with the highest grade point averages in the bachelor’s and associate’s degree programs, were presented to Jennifer Wallace (criminal justice) for the bachelor’s program, and Rachel Carter (veterinary technology)for the associate’s program.