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Published 05/16/14

Graduate Commencement includes first recipients of master's degrees from Arts and Sciences

Caitlyn Witkowski and mentor Hong Yang

At its annual Graduate Program Commencement held Thursday, May 15, Bryant's College of Arts and Sciences awarded its first master’s degrees to five students.

“This is a historic milestone for our graduate programs,” President Ronald K. Machtley said.

LEFT: Caitlyn Witkowski, who received Bryant’s first Master of Science in Global Environmental Studies degree, with her mentor, Professor Hong Yang

Bryant graduate programs now include the Master of Arts in Communication, Master of Arts in Teaching, and Master of Science in Global Environmental Studies. They join the well-established  Master of Business Administration,  Master of Professional Accountancy, and Master of Science in Taxation offered by the Graduate School of Business, and the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies offered by the College of Health Sciences. Its inaugural class begins next January.

"Celebrate the fact that this advanced degree… this superior Bryant education... can never be taken away from you."

Machtley told the 106 graduates and their guests that their master’s degrees are a significant achievement and praised them for recognizing "the importance of being leaders in your profession.”

Helping others attain their dreams

The University also awarded an honorary doctorate in business administration to Robert A. DiMuccio, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of the Amica Mutual Insurance Company.

“I’m proud to be here on this historic occasion,” DiMuccio said. “Bryant has earned its place among the best institutions of higher learning in the country.”

Read the citation for DiMuccio here.

DiMuccio told the graduates that his greatest wish for them was to help “others attain their dreams… to be the strong wind in someone else’s sails.”

"Celebrate the fact that this advanced degree… this superior Bryant education... can never be taken away from you,” he added.

He shared with the graduates advice he learned while moving up the ranks in one of the most highly respected companies in the insurance industry:

  • Conduct yourselves with the highest level of ethics and integrity. He said: “Ask yourself, would I do this if my mother was watching?”
  • Be someone others seek to emulate.
  • Be a true professional. “A true professional is always the calmest person in the room,” he noted. “Remain calm, don’t panic, don’t guess, get the facts, and only then make a decision.”

And remember, he continued, “If your job requires frequent flying, it’s not the ticket agent’s fault that the flight was canceled.

“Smile, be polite and you might even be upgraded to first class,” he quipped.

MBA graduate Adedayo Ajayi (Providence, RI), said: “It was great here at Bryant. Everyone became like a family. I’ve made so many relationships in this program and met so many people in different industries. It’s been a fun ride.”

The first MSGES

Caitlyn Witkowski (Saint James, NY) received Bryant’s first Master of Science in Global Environmental Studies degree. Witkowski graduated in 2011 with an Environmental Science major, a global studies concentration, and a business administration minor. Under the mentorship of Hong Yang, Ph.D., Witkowski worked as an undergraduate for two years as a research assistant in a NASA-funded project, analyzing ancient plants from China and the Canadian Arctic, to understand climate change. After graduation, Yang offered her an opportunity for postgraduate studies at China University of Geosciences, the top geology school in China. When Bryant established a graduate program in environmental sciences, she returned to her alma mater to enroll. As a Bryant grad student, she was an adjunct professor and manager of the Laboratory for Terrestrial Environments at Bryant.

“This is really exciting,” she said. “I’m glad I was given this opportunity to stay at Bryant and work in its amazing facilities and with its awesome faculty.”