Flagler College Graduates over 400

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2016 Flagler seniors await graduation. photo: 2016

Cheers filled the air on Saturday morning, at the St Augustine Amphitheater, while over 400 students took to the stage to collect their diploma from Flagler College. Family and friends, dressed in their Sunday best, came out to support and cheer on the graduates. Although the graduation ceremony was live-streamed, many flew in from around the globe to show their love and give the graduates an “in person hug.”

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Dr William T. Abare, Jr. president of Flagler College. photo: 2015

The amphitheater was filled to the rafters, as thousands listened to Dr Abare’s message to the students, of a future full of hope. After a poem, specially written for this graduation by the late Dr Andrew Dillon, was read to the crowd, Dr Abare gave one of his last graduation welcomes. “I salute the achievement of each woman and man who walk across this stage,” said Abare as he slowly scanned the graduates. “There is no other place I would rather be than to watch the transformation of these students to college graduates” This welcome proved to be a personal statement, as Dr Abare will be retiring next year.

This years commencement address was presented by Amy Domini. Domini is the founder of Domini Social Investments,LLC, an investment company that specializes exclusively in socially responsible investing. She is also an author of numerous books on ethical investing and in 2005, Time magazine named Amy Domini to the Time 100 list of the world’s most influential people.

Domini shared the story of her college days, the days of flower power, sit-ins and the years when thousands of her peers were fighting a war that many did not agree with. “My college years saw the war in Vietnam, race riots and protests,”she shared. “Yet we were a generation full of hope.”

Domini began her career in Merrill Lynch at a time when they were reeling from a sexual discrimination law suit. She worked her way up the corporate ladder and was shocked by what she learned about the financial inequalities in this country and around the world. Soon her clients began asking whether it was possible to pursue their investment objectives without violating their values. “The stock holders did not want to continue to make their profits on the cost of human dignity,” she said.

“Money has an impact,” said Domini as she addressed the graduates, informing the students about corporations who make their money on the backs of children working in sweat shops and about the unethical methods of promoting infant formula over breast milk to poor mothers in developing countries. “They hate the United States because we are starving their children.”

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A full house for the graduation. photo: 2016

The commencement address ended with Domini expressing the need for social responsibility of the graduates. “Thanks you all for what you are about to become,” she said. Due to her exemplary service to the community and her dedication to excellence, Domini was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Flagler College.

As the students took their place in line to receive their diploma, tears flowed freely from both the students in line as well as from proud parents looking on. One by one names were announced and the students, in cap and gown and a smile on every face, took their first steps into a future full of promise and a dream come true.

Congratulations to all the graduates…”Oh the Places You’ll Go!”