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Elms College to Hold 88th Commencement May 18
03:04PM / Monday, May 13, 2019
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Elms College will confer degrees on 536 degrees on Saturday, May 18, at the Mass Mutual Center. 
 
The commencement speaker is health-care entrepreneur and philanthropist William Lyons III, who will receive an honorary degree. Also receiving honorary degrees will be Savina Martin, co-chair of the Massachusetts Poor People's Campaign, and Kathryn Buckley-Brawner, executive director of Catholic Charities Agency in the Diocese of Springfield, in recognition of their contributions to the world.
 
The 91-year-old Catholic liberal arts college will present 187 bachelor of arts degrees, 206 bachelor of science degrees, 116 master's degrees 20 doctorate degrees and six certificates of advanced graduate study.
 
Lyons and his brothers founded Blackstone Medical Inc. in 1996, and built it into a Pioneer Valley success story; the company was named a "model business" by the administration of Gov. Mitt Romney for creating local jobs in the high-tech arena. By the time Blackstone Medical was acquired by Orthofix International in 2006, it was the world's largest privately held spinal implant company, and had introduced more than 20 instrument and implant systems throughout the U.S. and in more than 30 countries.
 
Lyons majored in in mechanical and materials engineering at the University of Connecticut and earned his master of science in biomechanical engineering from the Hartford (Conn.) Graduate Center, in affiliation with Rensselaer (N.Y.) Polytechnic Institute. A highly trained engineer, he used his degrees to perfect product development as well as manufacturing processes, and earned several U.S. patents.
 
Prior to forming Blackstone Medical Inc., Lyons was a founder and executive in several medical-product companies, including Mechtech of Western Massachusetts, a nonprofit machining apprenticeship training company. He continues to serve as a consultant to the medical device manufacturing industry and as an investor in medical device startup companies.
 
As philanthropists, Lyons and his wife, Cynthia, who is the chair of the board of trustees at Elms, are focused on supporting local educational projects, medical research and cancer care projects, and programs that benefit military families. They have donated to many important causes in the Pioneer Valley area, including the town of Wilbraham tornado relief fund, Mercy Medical Center's Sister Caritas Cancer Center, and Elms College.
 
As a national activist on homelessness and issues affecting women who has spoken around the country on systemic racism and poverty issues, Martin has challenged politicians and policy makers to build sustainable low-income housing and support for urban areas. A veteran and a woman of color, today she works particularly among homeless women veterans in Boston. Martin holds a bachelor of applied science in human services and a master's degree in nonprofit management and leadership from Springfield College.
 
Buckley-Brawner has worked with Catholic Charities since 2004, and has been at the forefront of the agency's effort to provide services and assistance to the victims of the 2011 tornado, Tropical Storm Irene, and other events. As a Refugee Reception & Placement Agency subcontracted through the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the agency has helped to resettle dozens of refugees into Western Massachusetts. Buckley-Brawner holds a bachelor's degree in political science and government from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a master of arts in applied theology from Elms College.
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