Hooding Ceremony 2016 Speakers

Champlain College Hooding

Champlain College 13th Hooding and Commencement
May 20, 2016 at 10 a.m., Perry Hall, Champlain College, Burlington, Vt.

VIDEO: Watch the speeches and hooding ceremony


Vice Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Champlain College Scott CarpenterWhat a beautiful day to be celebrating with all of you and all that you have accomplished. I am Scott Carpenter, Vice Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Champlain College. It is an honor to welcome fellow trustees, administrators, staff, and faculty; and the soon-to-be graduates, their families and friends; to the Master's Degree Hooding and Commencement ceremony. This is the 13th time in the 138 year history of the College that we gather to recognize graduates of the Master's degree programs and I would like to take a moment to commend the members of the Champlain College community whose vision for graduate education at Champlain has become a thriving reality, as represented by the accomplishments of these fine candidates.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I congratulate the 180 students completing their graduate degrees this spring I am particularly delighted that 100 graduates have chosen to mark this significant achievement by participating in the hooding ceremony today. Dr. Laurie Quinn, our Provost and Chief Academic Officer, will later explain the significance of this traditional ceremony. To the families and friends of our Master's graduates, I know the class of 2016 joins me in extending a heartfelt thank you to each of you. Your support, patience, mentorship and sacrifice made today possible for each of our graduates.

Class of 2016 -- we take great pride in watching you, become graduates. We extend to each of you our heartfelt congratulations and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous future. We look forward to following you in the paths you take as you proceed in life. Congratulations!


Provost and Chief Academic Officer Laurie Quinn introduces Andrea Sisino.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to our Class of 2016 student speaker, Andrea Sisino. Andrea is about to receive her Master of Science in Executive Leadership degree.

Andrea is the Director of Osher Lifeling Learning at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. Andrea is passionate about teaching others. While she currently lives in South Carolina, her life has taken her to many parts of the world including Burlington, Vermont where she developed the Vermont City Marathon organization which became one of the top 10 marathons in the country. She also taught at Champlain College for a while.
Andrea cycles, sails and of course, runs marathons. What she really enjoys doing is challenging herself. Andrea lives in Bluffton South Carolina with her husband Mike and their three cats.
Please join me in welcoming back to Champlain, Andrea Sisino.

Andrea Sisino

Hooding Ceremony speaker Andrea Sisino at the podiumGood morning faculty, staff, graduates, and friends. Thank you for this opportunity to speak today.

Sometimes something so insightful & powerful is right before your eyes - but you just can't see it. We are blinded by our own lens - our own limited perspective. A lens created by our own making - our own story that we tell ourselves and others.
Twenty years ago....

Champlain College, Teaching, in my element - using my gifts- felt on purpose. Since then - out of teaching, Executive Director, developed 2 not-for-profits orgs

Going into the MSEL program, I was burnt out and feeling exhausted. Losing my energy but couldn't identify why Organizational success. Why am I not doing cartwheels?

During our leadership studies (leadership from the inside out, outside in) Hard, deep- really honest- uncomfortable (at times) look at ourselves & interactions WHO are we - really?WHAT is our PURPOSE? HOW do we spend our time? DO we live our VALUES? HOW do we interact with others? Not just close friends/ colleagues- but all
Champlain College's tag line exemplifies what happen during our studies to allow me to see what I couldn't see before- but was there all along.
Audeamus - Let Us Dare! - (what does this mean?)

Let us dare to recognize, understand and celebrate OUR unique story! 7.4 billion. Each person is born and develops a unique set of gifts Our "story" is WHO we areOur story defines how we view our world. Our stories are the people we have become, the relationships we have established.

Let us dare to recognize that all people have a story and spend time learning what those stories are. Story is much like a finger print- they are one of a kind. 7.4 billion- no two lives have the same story, same unique set of gifts. Each person's story defines that way in which they view the world- their lens.

Let us dare to take a long PAUSE and a non-judgmental stance when we feel stuck - or even 100% sure of our selves. Zander & Zander in the Art of Possibility wrote, "What assumptions am I making that I'm not aware I'm making, that give me what I see?" Let us dare to PUSH ourselves - to be a committed life-long learner that THRIVES on being uncomfortable. Complacency is silent. We get used to seeing the world from our own lens so much so we think our lens is the truth. It is not. Reach & stretch - those are gifts of growth & wisdom.

Let us dare to embrace that TIME is an unlimited resource and it is ours to DEFINE. SPEND it wisely, on purpose, with heart, soul and a curious mind.

Let us dare that when we feel conflict, we recognize that there is no blame - only an understanding of a different lens. We are all part of the cultural fabric wherever we are. Peter Senge wrote, Rule #11: There Is No Blame. "In a complex adaptive system there is no separate "other". Everything and everyone is connected and together we co-create the whole system.

Let us dare to live with PURPOSE so that when we leave this world, we know that our unique gifts contributed to those lives we touched.

Lastly, let us dare to live our life filled with gratitude for all things - ALL experiences, ALL of who we are.
I am grateful to Fellow students - Anna, Brian, Claire, Chris, Christa and UrsulaOur professors, especially Dr. Nash- who pushed us to being uncomfortable, yet opened doors that would not have opened otherwise.
Thank you Dr. Boyne for your candor in getting me to take an honest look at my values in relation to my career. You lit the path to my purpose- finally!
Thank you Dr. Miller opportunity - an action research project on mindful leadership changed the way I see myself & every relationship that I encounter.
Champlain's graduate program on leadership transformed my thinking/ lens in which I view the world, allowed me to recognize my purpose, celebrate my whole story and strive to learn the story of others.
Lastly, thank you - husband for being so supportive.

Commencement Speaker
President Laackman introduces Brad Robertson

Brad Robertson is an innovator and a strategist.  Currently serving as Senior Vice President for MyWebGrocer, the nations' leading provider of digital grocery services, Brad specializes in digital media, advertising sales, marketing, content development, distribution and building audience connections.
Prior to MyWebGrocer, Brad served as served as vice president of product innovation and new ventures for Gannett Digital Marketing Services, where he provided digital marketing solutions to help brands and businesses reach millions of customers daily.
In October 2009, Brad founded GannettLocal providing digital marketing services for local business. And, from 2007-2010 he served as the President and Publisher of the Burlington Free Press. Brad has also served to advance his community and drive the State's economy by serving on the boards of the Vermont Business Roundtable, Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, Burlington Business Association, and the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies. As a professional who brings creative thinking, innovative solutions and high-tech strategies to his daily work, we are thrilled to have him with us today.

Please join me in welcoming Brad Robertson.

Brad Robertson

Hooding Ceremony speaker Brad Robertson at the podiumThank you, President Laackman for the warm welcome.

Thank you distinguished members of Champlain College Board of Trustees, faculty and staff. Welcome family members, friends and congratulations to Champlain College Master's Class of 2016!!!

Over 20 years ago, I graduated from college. I don't remember a single word that any speaker said and that was before everyone had a mobile phone. We had to just sit there and act like we were paying attention. No facebook, instagram, twitter, pinterest, snapchat and hungry shark to keep you occupied for the next 15 minutes. All I could think about at the time was finding a job, buying a new car and getting married to my college sweetheart who I met my freshmen year in the dorm. Back in my day we didn't need online dating, or swiping right, just co-ed dorms! Sometimes technology just makes things more complicated.

I realize that anything I say here today will likely have a short shelf life.

What I also remember feeling on graduation day is what I imagine you are feeling right now: pride, excitement, and gratitude. None of us made it here entirely on our own. In particular, we had the help and  the encouragement of our family and friends. They are the ones bursting with pride right now. So before you hear anything more from me, let's thank them for all they have done for us! (start clapping)

It is a privilege to be here at Champlain College who consistently produces the best graduates in Vermont who are ready on day one to make an impact and contribute to the company's success. Champlain College has always been ahead of the times. Like every great company it has reinvented itself many times over the years, focused on innovation, adapting to change and providing career-oriented education to serve the needs of it's students to help them succeed in this hyper competitive world.

I applaud each of you on your choice of selecting Champlain College for your Master's Degree. At MyWebGrocer we are always on the look out to hire Champlain College graduates, it is the seal of excellence. Hopefully my son will attend here in a few years and I will be sitting our there watching him with pride graduate.

I am honored to be here today. A Master's degree is an amazing accomplishment. I am in awe of your commitment, intelligence and sacrifice to achieve this honor. When asked to speak today I immediately said YES and then started freaking out on what I was going to say to all of you.

So a little about me......I grew up in Rockford, IL, northwest of Chicago and hometown to Cheap Trick. My Dad worked in the newspaper industry for nearly 40 years. I had my own paper route from 5h-12th grade, college internships and when I graduated joined the Gannett Company working with my dad and eventually my younger brother. Over the past 20 years I have moved 9 times, living in 8 different states somehow convincing my wife to join me on this crazy ride. We have two amazing kids that have changed our life for the good and along the way I have been fortunate to work with amazing people who have taught me professional and life lessons that I try to use everyday. My 360-degree review says I need to work on my organizational skills, focus on fully completing tasks before moving to the next one and have more patience. This is from my wife and kids, the folks that I work with are easier on me.

So before too many of you get distracted watching Gwen Stefani carpool karaoke with George Clooney and Julia Roberts for the 10th time I want to use the time I have left to urge you to see that tomorrow begins your path toward a doctorate in the evolution of BRAND YOU (that's Y-O-U). As Fast Company declared many years ago we are all Free Agents. We get to decide where to take our talents. Who we want to work with each day solving problems, building something new, teaching someone, laughing, winning a new client, or simply taking a coffee break. Do not settle. Too many people accept the status quo. They stop dreaming. They stop believing in themselves. Define that dream and chase it with urgency.

So how can you build up BRAND YOU? Everyone's journey is different but hopefully some of these ideas are helpful to achieve your full potential.

First - Find your BRAND YOU support group - these are people who support your dreams. They can see greatness in you more than you are able to see in yourself today Pushing you to get our of your comfort zone, accept a job that scares you, take a seat at the table/not sitting in the back, take on a major project, etc. Always there for you when you stumble, lose confidence, dust you off and encourage you to try again. As the expression goes, "it takes a village", that is why it is important you constantly are trying to add new villagers to your support group.

For me my support group started with my mom. My #1 cheerleader. She will tell me constantly at a young age I would become a newspaper publisher and eventually the President of Gannett. Even though she died before I could make her first prediction for me come true. Becoming Publisher of the Burlington Free Press is one of my proudest moments knowing the pride my mother would have had at that moment. She made me believe that a publisher job was the right level for me. This job wasn't over reaching. It was one step to even higher greatness.

As much as my mom, dad and wife believed in me and provided unwavering love my career success & rapid trajectory was built on the foundation of mentors and coaches. These are the doctorate professors of Brand You.

My first mentor Len Fernandez taught me how to build a database marketing strategy. Well ahead of his time in newspaper marketing in 1994. He talked I listened, took notes furiously, and iterated his ideas into new concepts. Len was generous with the time he made for me, hours on the phone and there was never a stupid question. He loved to laugh and tell stories. Now when I get the opportunity to be the mentor I try to find my inner-Len.

My second mentor Mary Stier taught me how to take a leap in my career to upper management. In a newspaper corporate world that at the time was still dominated by men, Mary Stier was rare. A woman Group President who is wicked smart, master juggler of a wide range of topics she had to oversee, warm, friendly, caring, yet when she needed to be stern and decisive. She took me under her wing for several years and put me into roles and responsibilities that scared me. I would go home at night and wonder when they would realize I had no clue what I was doing. Mary taught me the following:

  • The next best job you are 75% prepared for. Waiting to be 100% ready is too late.
  • You don't need to have all of the answers. Just need to understand what questions to ask.

Mary told me that my greatest strength was my ability to get employees to trust me and follow my direction. I was too worried about needing to know all of the answers when winning initially was being that lightning bolt to dramatically increase activity level, moral, excitement and belief. She also taught me a lesson in perspective, "You can love the company. But it will never love you back". An important reminder for me to this day.

My third mentor Joe Perrotto, President and CEO of Country Home Products here in Vergennes. Some say at this stage in my career I can't have a mentor, more like an executive coach or maybe he is just my work psychologist. Joe will listen to me (complain, express concern, overact, whatever) and he is able to cut right to the heart of the problem and challenge me to confront some hard choices. Beyond career guidance, Joe has taught me to see the happiness of hosting, having dinner with friends, gathering together to share conversation, drinks and laughs. 

Second - BRAND YOU is Curious. Get Curious. Stay Curious.

Curiosity is an important trait. All the great leaders I have worked with were curious characters.

Curious leaders are always asking questions. They are seeking and open to new ideas. Great ideas are rarely obvious which is why you have to be open to many new ideas to look beneath the surface to discover new possibilities. Curiosity is a hunting mindset that brings energy and adventure to an organization.

We are all born curious. Some of us naturally are more curious than others. I believe all of us can build that curious muscle by:

  • First - Keep an open mind. This is easier said than done. It is hard to be open to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Some things you know and believe might be wrong, and are you prepared to accept this possibility and change your mind.
  • Second - No Devil's Advocate Allowed - Listen Without Judgment. We have all been in those meetings/group setting where ideas are being shared, maybe even momentum around one idea is starting to take shape and someone in the group says, "let me play devil's advocate". Destroying someone's idea is easy. What is hard is building on another's idea. If you don't like someone's idea you have to come up with a better idea. We support the process by generating a new, fresh idea not critiquing another person. Respect the creators. My father would tell me it is hard to create and easy to edit.
  • Third - Ask lots of questions. Curious people ask questions that start with "how," "what," "when," "where" and "why,". They stay away from questions that can be answered with a yes or a no.
  • Fourth - They are fully present. Curious people turn off their phones and focus on conversations.
  • Fifth - Maybe the most important in this list - They  are willing to be wrong. The ability to shelve a sense of being right in favor of being open to the insights and opinions of othersFinally - They are not afraid to say, "I don't know"  Curious people are always seeking new knowledge by engaging in conversations. When asked a question, they aren't afraid to admit when they don't have an answer.

Third - BRAND YOU is always Evolving & Innovating.

As I finish today I would like to leave you with my favorite Seth Godin quote I have been using for 15 years now:

"Penguins don't evolve on purpose. They don't have meetings about evolution. They don't debate the most effective routes for their future on the island. Instead, evolution is built into their daily lives and embodied in their reproductive cycle. Because evolution is automatic, it happens whether the penguins find time for it or not.The difference between a penguin and your company is simple: While both have evolved to a point where they can succeed, the penguin continues to evolve - but your company tries not to. Your organization, unlike the penguin, is built on the fictional idea that someone is in charge, that the world is stable, that you get to choose what happens next.

In my nearly 20 years in the newspaper business I lived this resistance to evolve. To see differently. The enemy of innovation in the newspaper industry was ego. That we knew best. The consumer had no choice. But the consumer did have a choice. They had more choices than ever before. News and attention options exploded. Barriers to entry were gone. Scarcity was our friend and now we had to compete in a new world of abundance and our ego would not let us change.

Believe in yourself. Relentlessly build your BRAND YOU Support Group - find smart people. Ask them lots of questions. Listen.

Wherever you are on the Curious Pendulum keep working to get even more Curious - Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

And keep evolving - Take on projects and jobs that scare you.

Today is a day of celebration. A day to celebrate all the hard work that got you to this moment.

All of us here are excited to see what you are going to do next.

Thank you and Congratulations!


Provost Dr. Laurie Quinn

Dr. Laurie QuinnThank-you, Brad, for those inspiring remarks. 

One of the most obvious and colorful aspects of academic ceremonies, like graduation, is the wearing of academic regalia. There are three main components of academic regalia: the robe or gown, the cap, and the hood.

In order to understand the significance of this hooding ceremony, let me explain a bit about hoods. The academic hood is worn over the graduation gown as part of full academic regalia at graduation and commencement ceremonies. Traditionally, only master and doctoral candidates wear hoods. You can determine the type of graduate degree by the length and design of the hood; the master's hood is slightly smaller than the doctoral hood.

The colors on the hood represent two things. The velvet trim represents a discipline, or field of study. For instance, you will notice that the velvet trim on the hoods we will be placing over our students' gowns is drab for Business Administration, Digital Investigation Management, Healthcare Management & Managing Innovation & Information Technology, purple for Law, gold for Mediation & Applied Conflict Studies, brown for Fine Arts and light blue for Education.

The color of the field and the color of the stripes, or chevrons, on the hood represent the school colors. The field of the Champlain master's hood is blue.

Thus, we get to the symbolic meaning of the hooding ceremony. When these hoods are placed on the shoulders of these soon-to-be graduates, the colors and design of the hood visibly represent both the discipline of the degree they have earned as well as the school that granted their degree.

The pageantry and color of our regalia and ceremony reminds us of our heritage and connection to the ancient scholars of renaissance Europe.

However, the Master's degrees that we are celebrating today are a relatively modern educational innovation. The first Master's degree was awarded in the United States in 1850 and it wasn't until the 1940s and 1950s when Master's degrees were fully embraced by American colleges and universities. Since that time, Master's degrees have represented an interim accomplishment for those headed toward doctoral degrees or as professional development degrees that evoke advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics.

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit champlain.edu.