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Largest-ever Class Graduates from Bay Path University

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More than 1,000 students earned specialist in education, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees from Bay Path University on Saturday. 

The University's 121st Commencement was held at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, where graduates were addressed by poet and writer Charles Coe. 

Coe was one of two honorary degree recipients recognized at the ceremony. The author of two books of poetry, All Sins Forgiven: Poems for my Parents and Picnic on the Moon, Coe is a prolific wordsmith. His poems have appeared in literary reviews and anthologies including Poesis, The Mom Egg, Solstice Literary Review, and Urban Nature. Selected by the Associates of the Boston Public Library as a “Boston Literary Light for 2014,” he is also the recipient of a poetry fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a Fellow of St. Botolph Club of Boston, and the 2016-2017 Artist-in-Residence for the City of Boston. As the Artist-in-Residence, Coe developed a community-based story collection called “What You Don’t Know About Me,” about people who live and work in or near Boston’s Mission Hill. 

Coe closed his remarks to the Class of 2018 with the following words: 

I thank you for your kind attention, and will leave you with a poem I wrote
recently for a friend who, like you, has finished one phase of life and is
about to start another. It’s called, “Every New Thing.”

Every new thing is an act of treason
A betrayal of the comfortable, the familiar
An animal that has known only the cage
will cringe in a corner if the door
suddenly swings open

squealing on ancient, rusted hinges.
If I have one wish for you, for me
for us all, it’s to remember that our own cages
are locked only by the fear of change
that we have the power to shove the doors open
to take one step, then another,
into a new world.

Dr. Vana Nespor, who retired from Bay Path in 2017, also received an honorary degree at the 2018 Commencement. Joining Bay Path in 1999, Dr. Nespor was instrumental in launching the radical One Day A Week College program for adult women on the Longmeadow campus. In time, additional locations across the state were open to accommodate the overwhelming demand of the program, transforming the lives of thousands of women. A bold innovator in education, Dr. Nespor played a key role in the development of The American Women’s College, a revolutionary learning model serving adult women online. Prior to retirement, she undertook a comprehensive research program that confirmed the incredible impact of our unique educational model. 

Click through the photo gallery above to view highlights from the ceremony.