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June 2023

Father Greg Boyle addressing the Class of 2023

Father Greg Boyle addressing the Class of 2023

Create Circles of Compassion, Greg Boyle, S.J., Tells Class of 2023

The founder of Homeboy Industries, Greg Boyle, S.J., shared his inspirational message with SCU's Class of 2023.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 17, 2023— Santa Clara University graduates should aspire to create “circles of compassion” that are fully accepting and reject demonizing, alienating, or disposing of marginalized people seeking dignity and opportunity. 

That was the message to 1,590 members of the Class of 2023 as they celebrated their commencement on Saturday, June 17, in the University's Stevens Stadium. The speaker was Greg Boyle, S.J., STM ’86, the Jesuit priest who founded the renowned Los Angeles-based gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program, Homeboy Industries. 

Showing obvious affection for the former gang members with whom he works on a daily basis, Boyle shared stories of times he couldn’t see how gang members could possibly change—but with love and acceptance, they did.

Quoting the poet Rumi, he said, “‘If the house of the world is dark, then love will find a way to make windows.’ Windows are those transparent things through which we see mystically, through which we see as God sees, from the confines of those places where we get stuck and are annoyed, impatient, and want to win the argument.” 

He told the graduates, “Be in the world who God is—compassionate, loving, kind. We know that systems change when people change,  and people change when they are cherished.”

In her remarks, Santa Clara University President Julie Sullivan reminded the graduates that it is a sense of shared humanity that leads to “a life of purpose.”

“The relationships you have formed with each other and with Santa Clara University are not just pleasant byproducts of your four years of college,” she said. “They truly are the cornerstone of your Santa Clara experience.”

The events were livestreamed for those who were unable to attend.

About the Speaker 

Born in Los Angeles, Boyle entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) immediately after graduating from Loyola High School in 1972. Over the next dozen years, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Gonzaga University; a master’s in English from Loyola Marymount University; a Master of Divinity from the Weston School of Theology; and a Master of Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, now part of Santa Clara University. 

After spending a year in Bolivia, Boyle became pastor of the Jesuit Dolores Mission Church in East L.A.—an area beset by gangs. Along with other Jesuits he started an alternative school at Dolores Mission and launched the organization Jobs for a Future, the beginnings of Homeboy Industries. He helped start a social enterprise, Homeboy Bakery, to employ those seeking a refuge from gang life. The success of the bakery contributed to the nonprofit devoting itself to gang rehabilitation, named Homeboy Industries.

Homeboy now supports around 10,000 men and women a year, offering therapy, classes, services, job training, and employment. At the center of it all is founder Boyle, who describes his work as “radical kinship,” accompanying those who come through Homeboy at virtually every step of their journeys at Homeboy and beyond.

He’s written three books, “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion,” “Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship,” and “The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness.”

A Diverse and Talented Class

The undergraduate class of 2023 comprised half men and half women, with an estimated 43 percent white; 23 percent Asian; 19 percent Hispanic; and 9 percent two or more races.

Among those crossing the stage Saturday was Santa Clara’s youngest-ever graduate, 14-year-old computer science and engineering major Kairan Quazi ’23, who will be joining SpaceX as a software engineer. 

After degrees were conferred, the graduating students heard from valedictorian and ethnic studies and sociology major Angel Tam Nhi Lin ’23, a LEAD Scholar who was the first in her family to attend college. She told her classmates to cherish the loving communities created at Santa Clara, even despite two years of in-person community lost to the pandemic. 

“Radical love is what makes us work so hard to build a legacy to make sure that SCU students will be taken care of long after we're gone,” said Lin. “Four years ago, I would have never thought that I would have found a loving home that I found in Santa Clara today. But that's what we do. We build communities.”

“That’s the Santa Clara mission after all, isn't it?” she added. “To use our education, our radical empathy, to take care of one another.” 

Among the awards given to outstanding seniors prior to the ceremony:

  • Judith Li ’23 received the St. Clare Medal and Darius Johnson ’23 received the Nobili Medal, both for seniors who demonstrate outstanding personal character, involvement in school activities, and overall contribution to the University.
  • Jessica Cuellar ’23 received the Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. Award, given to a graduate who exemplifies the ideals of Jesuit education.
  • Briana Bravo ’23, Juliet Kulusic ’23, and Grace Leete ’23 received the Richard J. Riordan Award, which recognizes outstanding community service contributions.
  • Hannah Edwards ’23, Kevin Ham ’23, Anna Murrin ’23, and Ariel Perlman ’23 were presented with Student Life Awards to recognize their contributions to the overall quality of life in the University community.
  • Cole Brunelli ’23, Kaylen Chase ’23, Grace Evans ’23, and Taylor Kealoha ’23 received the Gracelyn Rillorta Bateman Award for Inclusive Excellence, for students or student organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to enhancing an inclusive environment at SCU.
  • Catherine Cunha ’23 and Alexandria Perez ’23 received the 2023 Neider Family Alumni Service Award, for accomplished seniors going directly into a service program or project.

Graduate Program Commencements

On Friday evening, 200 graduates from Santa Clara’s programs in education and counseling psychology and pastoral ministry received their advanced degrees in a ceremony in Stevens Stadium, where Boyle also spoke.  

An additional 714 graduates from the graduate schools of business and engineering will hold their commencement ceremony in Stevens Stadium Saturday evening. 

The graduates of Santa Clara University’s School of Law and Jesuit School of Theology held their commencements May 20. 

About Santa Clara University
Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked among the top 15 percent of national universities by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Communications | | 408-554-5121


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