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U.S. Navy veteran and reservist Kindra Chiappinelli started her BS/MS in Computer Science program in the Spring 2019 semester. About a year into her program, she and her husband, Thomas, also a Navy veteran, found out they were expecting a second child. 

“I thought, ‘I can totally have a baby in the middle of the semester,’” she remembered. 

And she did. Her bachelor’s degree (she’ll finish her master’s degree via the Flex program from her new home in Arizona, where she plans to start her career) was among the more than 1,600 undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates conferred at the May 14 commencement ceremony at the MVP Arena in Albany. 

“There were definitely tough moments, but my husband and my family, they’re super supportive motivators and cheerleaders,” Chiappinelli said. 

There was cheering, shouting, and even a little dancing as the Class of 2022 made its way across the stage in front of thousands of loved ones and before a livestream audience of many more. There was also a moment of reflection as the College remembered Nathaniel Hopper, a senior majoring in music, who passed away on May 5. His degree was awarded posthumously after Saint Rose President Marcia White read a message from Hopper’s parents, reminding the graduates to never be afraid to say, “I love you.” 

White said she had planned to dispense several pages of advice to the grads through her speech but Hopper’s life, and the way his fellow students honored his memory and consoled Hopper’s family imparted all the lessons that were necessary. 

“I can’t teach you a thing. Class of 2022, not one thing. You and Nate caught a powerful connection to this campus that is palpable and life changing. It is you who taught me and touched my heart and enriched my soul,” she said. “The truth is life is an unexpected and continuous unfolding. It’s fragile, and it’s precious.” 

Sanjay Shrestha, general manager of energy solutions and chief strategy officer at Plug Power, delivered the commencement address, reminding graduates to dream big and be consistent in chasing their dreams. 

“Do not be afraid to fail. It’s not the failure or successes, it is what you learn from these experiences and how you use that to take things to the next level,” said Shrestha, who earned his bachelor’s degree in finance at Saint Rose in 1997 and was awarded a doctor of humane letters during Saturday’s ceremony. “Stay humble, remain intellectually curious, and do not let success or failure cloud your judgment.” 

Shrestha also discussed how Plug Power, a Capital Region-based company focused on building a global green hydrogen economy, is playing a part in addressing climate change. 

“This is much more than just my job, this is personal,” he said. “My daughter is here today. This is for her and all future generations.”   

Many of the graduates already had plans to make their own mark in the world.  

Maya Millar, a graduate student from Texas who earned her MSED in Communication Sciences and Disorders, is headed to Oakland, California, to work in the speech pathology area of a pediatric clinic. Maria Hinkson, of New York City, plans to use her MSED and certificate in School Building and District Leadership to work as a principal one day in Florida.  

Mark Edem, an international student from Lesotho who graduated with a BS in Political Science, will attend Brown University to pursue his master’s degree. But he’ll take with him memories of late-night food runs with friends and relationships that will last well beyond his four years at Saint Rose. 

“Glad to be done, but the journey was great,” he said.