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LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University will host its fifth President’s Gala on Saturday, March 23 in Springfield at the MassMutual Center, the university recently announced.

The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a VIP reception before a 6 p.m. cocktail hour. The remainder of the event will take place from 7 p.m. to midnight and include dinner, dancing and a set program with speakers, Bay Path said.

Each year, Bay Path University chooses a theme for the year’s events, Bay Path Senior Director of Communications and Institutional Marketing Kathleen Wroblewski told Reminder Publishing. For 2024, the theme is “Breaking Through” and centers on pushing aside barriers.

The gala exhibits this theme with a focus on health care, emphasizing Bay Path’s goal of locating and removing any obstacles for students in the more than 20 health care programs at the university, Wroblewski said. These programs are “extremely popular” and include paths such as occupational therapy, public health, biology, doctor of nursing practice and clinical mental health counseling, she explained.

Specifically, all funds raised at the gala will go towards scholarships and other resources for students in its health care programs. In this way, the university is taking steps to reduce financial barriers for students’ education. While the university’s previous galas also supported student scholarships, this is the first year the funds will only support students in health care programs, Wroblewski stated. The details of when and how these scholarships will be available has not been finalized yet.

During its inaugural President’s Gala in 2017, the university raised more than $150,000 to offer in scholarships for students, according to the university.
In alignment with the 2024 theme, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal [D-Springfield] and former Mercy Medical Center President Sister Mary Caritas will serve as honorary chairs at this year’s gala, the university stated.

Both Neal and Caritas have been “big supporter[s] of Bay Path,” Wroblewski explained. Similar to the gala itself, Neal has worked to help financially support students and ensure they have opportunities to succeed. In 2021, he announced two grants worth a combined more than $2.9 million toward the university’s health care programs, she said. Neal has also been supportive of Bay Path’s diverse student body.

Likewise, Caritas has supported Bay Path through inspiring university President Sandra Doran. In addition to being a “personal friend” of Doran, Caritas was awarded the President’s Award in 2022, which acknowledged the impact she has had on Doran and the Bay Path community, Wroblewski said. Furthermore, Caritas is “so well known and loved” in the region for her decades-long work to advance health care.

In addition to her work with Mercy Medical Center, Caritas also served as president of the Sisters of Providence as well as part of several boards across multiple medical systems, Doran said at the President’s Award ceremony, calling Caritas “a vital force in our community and region,” according to Bay Path.

For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, visit baypath.edu/events-calendar/presidents-gala/.

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