Intelligence officer urges graduates to have the confidence to succeed, even when the unexpected happens

May 11, 2024

Student in gap and gown stands up in crowd to waive

Adele Merritt, PhD, the chief information officer in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, encouraged 701 graduates of the School of Business and 109 graduates of the School of Computing and Engineering on Saturday to step confidently into their own careers during a warm and welcoming Commencement address.

Article Highlights

  • The university conferred degrees to 701 School of Business and 109 School of Computing and Engineering graduates. 
  • Adele Merritt, PhD, delivered the keynote address where she encouraged graduates to step confidently into their own careers.

With more than 20 years of expertise in support of cyber and national security, Merritt, has thrived in a career that demands a profound sense of purpose, service and discretion.

“Your resilience means you have a plan to achieve your dreams that will withstand life’s hiccups,” said Merritt. “Build on today’s achievement. Have confidence that you will succeed, even when the unexpected happens.”

As the mother of two Quinnipiac graduates, the moment and the magnitude of Commencement was not lost on Merritt, a former national security fellow at Harvard Kennedy School.

Adele Merritt, PhD, speaks from a podium on stage
Adele Merritt, PhD, delivered the keynote address

“Remember, not every inspirational event happens on a national stage at the conclusion of the season,” Merritt said. “Sometimes, the most challenging and inspirational part of the journey is finding the self-confidence to take the first step, to ask the first question, to make the first introduction. All of today’s graduates are an inspiration.”
“As you step off this campus and into your next adventure — whether it is a job, continued graduate school or military service — your community will expand,” Merritt vowed with clear certainty. “Remember to continue to look around you and offer a hand to help others along their journey.”

Merritt also managed to channel Dr. Seuss and his wisdom as part of her remarks.

“Now, you are part of the group who make that first step to meet others where they are,” she told the Class of 2024. “Oh, the places we can go with you making that first step.”

President Judy Olian observed the same potential and promise from behind the lectern on the Mount Carmel Campus Quad.

As she looked upon the assembled graduates, Olian said she saw the trailblazers of tomorrow, the change leaders in finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, engineering, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and computer programming.

The rewards and merits of a Quinnipiac education, after all, are meant to positively impact the world as well as the lives of others.

“You’ll carry with you the life experiences of the last few years that have shaped you into the person you are today and have exposed you to innovative ways of thinking, to different ideas, to different people and cultures,” Olian said. “And that person you’ve become — who appreciates ... and seeks to bridge those differences — you’re the person the world needs today.”

Olian explained that mission statements are more than a directive for the Quinnipiac community. They are a pathway to global change.

“We say in our mission statement that our aspiration for our graduates is that they leave us as ‘enlightened global citizens equipped for careers of the future.’ Our fervent hope is that over the last few years — every person you interacted with — every teacher, peer, adviser, coach, Quinnipiac alumnus — prepared you for the inevitable accelerating changes in your chosen career, and also for the capacity to be an enlightened, respectful, and curious listener,” Olian said.

“Those are values that have never been more important for the life you are preparing to embark on, for the connected communities we need to build, live in, in which to raise our families,” she said.

Emily Balboni ’24, who earned her Bachelor of Science, represented the School of Computing and Engineering as its student speaker.  

“When we look back at our time here, we are not going to remember that unfortunate engineering economics exam that we all bombed or the public safety parking ticket we got,” Balboni said. “Instead, we are going to remember the nights playing manhunt in CCE, the ping-pong battles and SWE trivia with LEGO prizes. And, to our professors, thank you for believing in us, more than we did, at times.”

Saliba Kaoud ’23, MBA ’24, represented the School of Business as its student speaker. He also represented the university’s commuter students.

“Quinnipiac is a melting pot, with students coming from a multitude of unique backgrounds,” Kaoud said. “Despite the different majors, ages, professions and more that encapsulate the Quinnipiac student body, the university does an amazing job in making us all feel as though we are part of a greater whole.”

“It doesn't matter if you're a commuter, a veteran or even a professional coming back to obtain an academic degree,” he said. “Everything about the School of Business inspires a sense of camaraderie that is encouraged and meaningful, allowing for a truly fulfilling college experience.”

After Provost Debra Liebowitz began the proceedings with the call to Commencement, Kelly A. Blitz, MS ’24, sang the national anthem before thousands of parents, family members and friends on the Mount Carmel Campus Quad.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Jeanna Doherty ’94 welcomed the Class of 2024 into an alumni community of more than 70,000 members around the world, with a reminder that a Quinnipiac education is a relationship that lasts a lifetime.


Watch the School of Business and School of Computing and Engineering Commencement

Four students sit in a row in their seats and hold up their diplomas and smile

Watch the Recording

Watch the livestream recording of the School of Business and School of Computing and Engineering Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement.

Saturday, May 11, 10 a.m.

Download the program (PDF)

Order of Exercises

School of Business
School of Computing and Engineering

10 a.m.

Trumpet Prelude and Processional

Pomp and Circumstance, Sir Edward Elgar

Call to Commencement

Debra J. Liebowitz, PhD

National Anthem

Kelly A. Blitz, MS ’24


Judy D. Olian, PhD

Class of 2024 Student Speakers
  • School of Computing & Engineering: Emily Elizabeth Balboni

  • School of Business: Saliba Abraham Kaoud '23, MBA '24

Introduction of Commencement Speaker

Corey Kiassat, PhD
Associate Dean, School of Computing and Engineering

Commencement Address

Adele Merritt, PhD

Presentation of Candidates for Degrees and Awards
  • School of Computing and Engineering: Taskin Kocak, PhD, Dean

  • School of Business: Holly Raider, PhD, Dean

Conferral of Degrees

Judy D. Olian

Alumni Welcome

Jeanna Doherty ’94
Chair, Alumni Association Board


Adele Merritt, PhD

Adele Merritt

Intelligence Community Chief Information Officer

School of Business and School of Computing and Engineering | Saturday, May 11, 10 a.m.

Adele Merritt, PhD, has over 20 years of demonstrated technical, analytic, and policy expertise in support of cyber and national security operations. She currently serves with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Before rejoining government, she worked at multiple startups focused on cybersecurity and a nonprofit focused on advancing innovation and collaboration through partnerships with industry, academia, and government. Merritt’s technical leadership has been recognized with multiple industry awards, including two annual FedScoop50 awards for positive impact in public service. Merritt was a National Security Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School and holds a PhD in mathematics from the University of Rhode Island and a BBA in finance from Pace University.

A Message from the President

President Judy Olian

Congratulations to the Class of 2024! You are well prepared to continue your life journey as professionals who will impact the world and the workplaces of tomorrow. We are confident you will apply your talent, passion and education to serve boldly as engaged citizens in your communities — and beyond. These qualities are at your core and will continue to propel you well into the future.

As graduates of Quinnipiac University, you have learned from a distinguished faculty and a committed staff who proudly stand beside you today. You also have learned valuable lessons from each other during this most transformative time in your lives. Please stay connected to our Bobcat family, visit us often, and draw upon the many friendships and mentorships you have formed here.

This day is shared with your families and friends, those who also deserve special recognition and appreciation for their contributions to your success. Enjoy this momentous achievement! Together, we are cheering for you, with utmost pride.

Judy D. Olian

Mace and Medallion

The mace — a symbol of authority — has antecedents in both Roman and Medieval history. The Roman mace (fasces) was carried by a lictor before the chief magistrate of the city, as well as before the legions. During the Middle Ages, the mace (mateola), a weapon of war, became first a symbol of victory and then a symbol of authority. The mace emblazoned with the Great Seal of England became a symbol of authority in Parliament by the end of the 13th century. It is this form of the mace that was the prototype of those symbols of authority, not only of legislative bodies, but also of cities and universities.

In 1246, following some 20 years of strife, the University of Paris was finally conceded the right to its own common seal. Since then, the use of the seal engraved on the mace has come to symbolize the authority of the academic community. In July 2000, Quinnipiac commissioned the noted sculptor Robert Meyer of Westport, Connecticut, to design and execute a new mace for Quinnipiac University. Cast in bronze, the mace incorporates elements of the university seal.

The medallion (medal of office), like the mace and the seal, is also a symbol of authority. It is possible that its roots may be traced back to the Roman “bulla” (a gold amulet of honor). The obverse of the medallion shows the seal of the office the wearer holds — in our case, the seal of the university. Not infrequently, the reverse would show the personal seal or coat of arms of the bearer. Since the High Middle Ages, the medallion has been worn by such officials as the chancellors of England, mayors of cities, and rectors of universities, and came to signify the high personal position such figures occupied in their respective governments. During the Renaissance, medallion design reached unique artistic heights, and in certain portraits the medallion was given particular prominence. The medallion is worn by the university’s president. The Quinnipiac medal showcases the university seal, sculpted in relief and cast in bronze.

Download the program (PDF)

Stay in the Loop

Sign Up Now