SHU Announces Speakers and Honorary Doctorates for 56th Commencement – Natural Self Esteem

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University graduate Kevin Nealon ’75 will deliver the opening address for Sacred Heart’s 56th Graduate Exercise, scheduled for Saturday, May 14 at 3:00 p.m. at the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater in Bridgeport . SHU’s undergraduate class of 2022 includes 1,385 students who have earned associate’s and bachelor’s degrees.

Nealon will receive an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters along with Sacred Heart Trustee Frank Martire ’69, former Chairman of Sacred Heart’s Board of Trustees. honoris causa, during the ceremony.

On the same day, John M. Murphy, President and CEO of Nuvance Health – a network of healthcare facilities in New York and western Connecticut – will address the graduate students as they begin their studies. This ceremony begins at 10 a.m. at the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater. Murphy Receives an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters honoris causa, also. During the ceremony, Sacred Heart will award master’s degrees, professional certificates and doctorates to 1,200 students.

The gathering of all 2022 graduates at this year’s celebrations marks a welcome return to normalcy after the past two years. Drills for the start of 2020 were postponed to 2021 and took place during a week-long opening ceremony that included five separate ceremonies.

“I am extremely proud to be completing this respectable nursing program,” said Marissa Pettinelli ’22, who will become a registered nurse at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford upon graduation. “The last four years have been so difficult and I’ve spent so much time studying, doing homework and visiting clinics. I have also enjoyed studying abroad in Dingle, Ireland, being an Orientation Leader and FYE Instructor and being part of the Student Nurses Association. Taking a job as a registered nurse in my dream position just makes me feel like all my hard work has finally paid off. It has been truly rewarding to join such an honorable profession where I feel as prepared as I can be after going through Sacred Heart’s very rigorous program.”

Sheila Moloney ’22, majoring in Political Science and Global Studies, will begin her post-SHU career as an investment analyst specializing in private wealth management in Goldman Sachs’ office in Cohoes, NY. “After the unprecedented times of the past few years, Sacred Heart University has been a constant light through the darkness,” said Moloney. “Sacred Heart has remained my school, my home and my favorite place. With support inside and outside of the classroom, I was able to grow and get a job at Goldman Sachs after starting. The Department of Political Science and Global Studies prepared me for the fast pace of work and communication needed for an excellent career after graduation. As I graduate and join the Goldman Sachs family, I will forever be grateful to my Sacred Heart family.”

“From the early moments of our orientation through defending our dissertation, participating in this SEL-focused doctoral program has been a challenging but extremely rewarding experience,” said Christopher Cipriano ’22, principal of Notre Dame High School in Fairfield, who is part of the first cohort to earn the SHU with an Ed.D. Degree. “Our professors guided each course and the program as a whole from a social-emotional perspective. Not only did we learn the course content, but we also learned from the example each professor set for us. On behalf of our cohort, I am confident to say that these past three years have instilled in each of us a powerful realization of the power and importance of social-emotional learning. This knowledge will have a positive impact on each of our respective school communities – including students and teachers. It was a privilege to work with such a great group of colleagues as the first cohort to run this program and to learn from such a dynamic, dedicated and outstanding group of professors. I cannot praise the whole experience highly enough!”

Kevin Nelson

Nealon, an Emmy and SAG-nominated actor, comedian and author, is best known for nine years as a cast member of NBC Saturday night live. He received critical acclaim for his role in the Showtime series weed from 2005 to 2012 and more recently he starred in the CBS TV comedy series man with a plan. He is currently producing and hosting a digital series, Hiking with Kevin (available exclusively on his YouTube channel) and performs his stand-up comedy worldwide. Nealon was also the title voice in the animated series in Glenn Martin, DDS; completed two critically acclaimed stand-up specials for Showtime and appeared in numerous films and television series.

on Saturday night livehe had a recurring role as a host on “Weekend Update” and received an Emmy nomination in 1988 as part of the SNL writing team.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Nealon moved to Bridgeport with his family and graduated from St. Joseph High School in Trumbull. He earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Sacred Heart University.

Frank Martire

Martire was born and raised in Bridgeport. He attended and graduated from Notre Dame High School in Bridgeport.

Martire earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Sacred Heart University in 1969 and a master’s degree in finance from the University of New Haven. He has been a member of the Sacred Heart Board of Trustees since 2005 and served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for six years. SHU’s Frank and Marisa Martire Center for the Liberal Arts and the Martire Family Arena, currently under construction on campus, honor Martire and his wife Marisa.

Martire has served as Executive Chairman of NCR Corporation since May 2018 and as a Director of Cannae Holdings, a public company, since November 2017. In 2019 he founded an investment firm called Bridgeport Partners. He previously served as Executive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Fidelity Information Services, Inc. (FIS) from October 2009 to December 2017. He currently holds various leadership positions and serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations including the Mayo Clinic Leadership Council.

John M Murphy, MD

Murphy was instrumental in the merger of Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) with Health Quest Systems, announced in 2018 and completed in 2019. The merger created Nuvance Health, a $2.7 billion system with seven hospitals serving 1.5 million people in Connecticut and New York and employing more than 15,000 people.

With more than 40 years of healthcare management and medical experience, Murphy held various positions at Danbury Hospital before becoming CEO of WCHN, including executive vice president and chief operating officer. A neurologist by training, he was also Chairman of the Board of Danbury Hospital. He recently completed a three-year tenure as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Connecticut Hospital Association. He is also a member of a number of health boards at the local, state and national levels. Before taking on administrative health care responsibilities, Murphy practiced neurology in the Danbury area for 20 years and he still treats patients at a free clinic.


About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England and one of the fastest growing in the United States, Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs at its Fairfield, Connecticut campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programming. More than 9,000 students attend the university’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; communication, media & art; social work; Computer Science & Engineering; health professions; the Isabelle Farrington College for Education and Human Development; the Jack Welch College of Business and Technology; the dr Susan L Davis, RN, & Richard J Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart differs from other Catholic institutions because it was founded and run by lay people. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and liberal arts while cultivating students into thought leaders who bring about change – in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 387 Colleges – 2022 Edition“Best Northeast” and Best Business Schools – 2022 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to award-winning NPR-affiliated radio station WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theater.

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