Congratulations to John Cabot University Class of 2017!

The Class of 2017
John Cabot University celebrated the largest graduating class in its history on May 15, 2017. At JCU’s 45th Commencement ceremony held at Villa Aurelia on the Janiculum Hill overlooking the city of Rome, 206 students representing 30 countries received their degrees.

The invocation was given by Father Joshan Rodrigues, Chaplain for Christian Students at JCU and advisor to the JCU Interfaith Initiative.

President Franco Pavoncello’s Welcome

Milena Gabanelli

Milena Gabanelli receives honorary degree from JCU President Franco Pavoncello

President Franco Pavoncello  congratulated the members of the Class of 2017. He reminded them that in this time of swift political and social change, the privileged education that they received at JCU should not serve them only as a stepping stone toward a successful career.

“The education you received at JCU will prove to be an important compass and a powerful tool amid these momentous changes. Your exposure to critical thinking in an international diverse community, whose members hail from the four corners of the world, will allow you to evaluate critically the competing ideas and solutions of our times, reaching out with compassion and intelligence to other cultures and other heritages, exploring solutions to world’s problem without easy recourse to simplistic recipes, be they the sirens of hyperglobalism or the enticing utopias of populism. We know you will rise to the challenge,” said President Pavoncello.

The President then introduced the Honorable William J. Martini, Vice Chairman of the JCU Board of Trustees, who congratulated the graduates on behalf of the Board.

See more Commencement 2017 photos on the JCU Facebook Page

Commencement Address by Simonetta Di Pippo

Commencement speaker Simonetta di Pippo

Commencement speaker Simonetta di Pippo

This year’s Commencement speaker was Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. An astrophysicist, Ms. Di Pippo was knighted by the President of the Italian Republic in 2006, and in 2008 the International Astronomical Union named asteroid 21887 “Dipippo” in honor of her contribution to space activities.

“Remember the incredible adventures of man in space and let them be an inspiration to you,” Di Pippo told students. Imagine and discover the infinite possibilities hidden in the future. I chose science to satisfy my thirst for discovery. Face challenges and be curious, not just about the world around you but also toward yourself, for it’s thanks to curiosity that progress is made.”

Di Pippo, who is the co-founder of the “Women in Aerospace” association, addressed the young women in the graduating class and said “Never let anyone’s prejudice stand in your way. Remember to support other women and together we will achieve gender equality.”

President Pavoncello conferred a Doctorate honoris causa in international relations to Ms. Di Pippo: “As an author, academic, scientist and innovator in space exploration, you inspire in all of us the wonder of possibilities beyond our current realities. A space visionary, your contributions to science and devotion to international cooperation in space activities embody the human spirit of exploration, diligence, resilience, and cooperation.”

Honorary Degree to Milena Gabanelli
President Pavoncello then awarded the degree of Doctor in Humane Letters, honoris causa, to Italian journalist Milena Gabanelli, best known for her 20-year career as author and anchorwoman of Report, Italy’s most successful investigative journalism television program. The President described her as a courageous war correspondent, leading investigative journalist, innovator in TV news reporting, author and intellectual. “For twenty years you have spoken truth to power, providing an unknown picture of Italian life to the Italian people, often uncovering uncomfortable realities of national life. You have done so with humility, courage, and professionalism. You have introduced new ways to use television for public service and written history in the process.”

In thanking JCU, Ms. Gabanelli said, “I always thought that to receive such an honor, one had to do something exceptional. But in reality, I have simply done my job with honesty and integrity. My wish for you, students, is to find your own way to improve the world, with courage, through the work that you do.”

Salutatorian and Valedictorian

Salutatorian Giuseppe Spatafora

Salutatorian Giuseppe Spatafora (center)

For the first time in JCU history, two students graduated with a 4.0 grade point average. The Valedictorian, the person with the most credits earned in residency at JCU, is Marialaura Grandolfo, while the other student, Giuseppe Spatafora, is Salutatorian.

“Good crews are those where each member does his or her job,” said Giuseppe, a student from Palermo who is also this year’s recipient of the International Affairs Academic Achievement award and the Service to the JCU Community award. “We all have our tasks to perform in life. Please remember to strive for better, not for glamour and fame but for honesty and perseverance.”

In introducing Valedictorian Marialaura Grandolfo, President Pavoncello said, “Marialaura learned English as a foreign language in an Italian high school, then came to JCU where she earned a 4.0 G.P.A. and now she is headed to the University of Oxford to study English Literature. Now that is impressive.”

In her valedictory address, Marialaura urged her fellow graduates to compromise: “Compromising rounds off our angles. It is by lending an ear, a hand, a shoulder, and acknowledging others in times of their need, that we build our communities. This is the sense of community that I and my fellow graduates found here at John Cabot, and that I would like to celebrate with you today.”

Marialaura then read John Donne’s poem “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning,” where Donne compares two lovers to the two arms of a compass. “As one arm navigates away, the other remains fixed at the center of the circle. The fixed arm adapts to the other’s movements, but with its solidity allows it to draw a perfect circle and to always return to where it started. Today, let us give some rightful recognition to all of those people who are the compasses in our lives. But also, let us remind ourselves that each of us is someone else’s compass, and, if not, that we should strive to be so.”

Dean Merva Confers Degrees
Dean of Academic Affairs Mary Merva presented diplomas to graduates, who received their Bachelor of Arts degrees in Art History, Business Administration, Classical Studies, Communications, Economics and Finance, English Literature, History, Humanistic Studies, International Affairs, International Business, Marketing, and Political Science.

JCU Commencement in the News
John Cabot University’s Commencement ceremony was amply covered in the Italian press.

Read the articles (in Italian):

Da John Cabot University laurea honoris causa a Gabanelli e Di Pippo” (Eurocomunicazione)

Di Pippo e Gabanelli laureate honoris causa alla John Cabot University” (Formiche)

Commencement photo gallery here.