Boys & Girls Club of Boston President Joshua Kraft and Sandy Hook Elementary Teacher Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis will receive Honorary Degrees at our 117th Commencement, Saturday May 10, 2014.
This Year Marks Bay Path’s Largest-Ever Graduating Class and Inaugural Class of Master of Science for Physician Assistants
PHILANTHROPY A KEY MESSAGE FOR THIS YEAR’S GRADUATES
LONGMEADOW— For over two decades, Joshua Kraft has spoken publicly on the power of mentorship and the fundamental need to provide philanthropic opportunities for children and teens. Volunteering and charitable work, he has said, are essential to help build communities and society as a whole. Kraft is the President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Boston, and President of the Kraft family’s New England Patriots Charitable Foundation (NEPCF).
Both Kraft and Sandy Hook Elementary teacher, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis will be given Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters at Bay Path College’s 117th Commencement on May 10, 2014 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.
Over 800 students on that day will mark the College’s largest-ever graduating class, comprised of traditional and adult undergraduates and master’s degree recipients. It is also the inaugural class of Master of Science Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA) graduates. Bay Path’s MSPA focuses on training medical professionals to help address the challenging state of the region’s healthcare system. From an applicant pool of over 600 candidates, only 24 students are accepted into Bay Path’s program each year.
For many of Bay Path’s traditional graduating seniors, philanthropy and public service marked fundamental distinctions in their Bay Path careers. For two women in particular, the paths they took were different, yet both achieved national attention for their work.
Neither Savannah Reardon nor Heidi Jo Rheaume ever expected that they would be given a nationwide honor for their efforts. However, both are recipients of the prestigious Newman Civic Fellow Award, given annually to just over 100 U.S. college and university students making an impact in their communities.
Reardon’s collegiate campaign to put an end to bullying is one that she plans to continue after graduation; she will be entering the AmeriCorps program in the fall to work with children in the Boston area. Rheaume will return to her hometown of Springfield, Mass. to prepare for the police exams—she plans to join the city police force.
Rheaume was Bay Path’s Honors Program Community Service Coordinator. For three years in that position, she led over 100 students to complete their own service-oriented projects. Her goal is to galvanize support to open a local shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.
Speaking at the commencement ceremony on the subject of public service will be Kraft and Roig-DeBellis. Prior to his investiture as the CEO and President of the Boys & Girls Club of Boston, Kraft was a longtime supporter of that organization. As a result of this long history, the Boston Business Journal has called Kraft, the rare executive who could share the “raw enthusiasm for the organization’s mission… from so many years spent at its grassroots level.”
Founded by his parents, Robert and the late Myra Kraft, the NEPCF has made significant donations to small, regional causes as well as larger institutions, such as the Kraft Family Blood Lab at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. As President, Kraft passionately spearheads charitable giving to a wide range of causes, including education, women’s issues, world affairs, and youth sports. He has led several initiatives, notably among them the License Plate Campaign and Patriot Platelet Pedalers, a campaign which has raised over four million dollars since its inception.
Roig-DeBellis is one of the heroes from the unspeakable day that made the name of her school, Sandy Hook Elementary, synonymous with one of the worst tragedies in American history. However, not content to let the event define her or the many people who survived that day, she transformed the experience into the organization, Classes 4 Classes. Its mission is to, in their words, “pay it 4ward,” providing educational gifts to other classrooms in need across the country. Their website is classes4classes.org.
Because of her inspired work, Glamour Magazine named Roig-DeBellis one of their Women of the Year for 2013. L’Oreal Paris honored her as a “Women of Worth,” and an example of “10 Inspiring Women Making Beautiful Differences in their Communities.” In addition to her tireless efforts as the executive director of Classes 4 Classes, she is also a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post.