The following citation was presented to the 2015 Honorary Degree recipient by member of the Pine Manor Board of Trustees, Brenda Bernstein Shapiro.
On behalf of the president and board of trustees, it is my very great honor to present this Honorary Degree to Serena Strazzulla Kokjer Greening.
Serena, you are the very example of what Pine Manor College strives to inspire in students. Like several of the students sitting here today, you too overcame the odds as a first generation American and the first member of your family to attend college. You used your higher education to be empowered, become a leader, unlock your true gifts and talents, and then, give back to the community in a selfless effort to help others replicate your success.
After Pine Manor, you studied retailing and in 1964, you moved to California and worked for Emporium Department Stores doing various merchandising assignments. You did them so well that in 1976 you were promoted to Merchandise Manager, the first woman to hold that position. And you did that so well, in 1986 the parent company, Carter Hawley Hale Stores a Fortune 1,000 company named you Vice President of Merchandise Systems, again, the first woman to become a member of the executive suite. In 1996, you returned to San Francisco where you held key management positions with two retail oriented internet start-up companies in Silicon Valley. In 2000, you did something you do best, you continued to learn and change. You acquired your real estate broker’s license and became an acknowledged expert mortgage broker. In 2014, you joined Home Street Bank and in your first year there earned membership to the President’s Club, the club reserved for the company’s top agents. It is important for our new graduates to know that you are seventy-five years old and continue to take on new challenges daily.
Throughout your career, you have broken glass ceilings in the fashion and retail industry, paving the way for other women to follow. You have exemplified the importance of a strong liberal arts foundation, while exploring and succeeding in the fields of technology and finance.
As you rose to the top, you never forgot where you came from. As a successful businesswoman on the West Coast, you never let distance get in the way of giving back. You know the meaning of community, always maintaining a prominent presence at our College and in your hometown of Belmont, Massachusetts. Having served on our Board of Trustees since 2004, and as Chair since 2011, your commitment to Pine Manor College over the years has been unwavering. In 2014, you donated a technologically advanced classroom in the name of your beloved late husband, Robert Greening.
You were there to lead in the times when we have needed it most, and you have been unafraid of change as the higher education landscape changes all around us. You have known better than many how to evolve with the times, while maintaining core values, identity, and principles.
From the junior women’s college that Pine Manor was when you graduated as part of the Class of 1959, to the co-educational institution you have helped us become today, our institution has never strayed from its focus. We wish to send people into the world with the sense of community, fearlessness and desire to lead that you have demonstrated so well over the years.
As though your example were not enough, you have tirelessly contributed your talent, knowledge and creativity to this College and the students we look to serve. We are more than honored to award you today with an honorary degree from your Alma Mater.
Presented by member of Board of Trustees, Brenda Bernstein Shapiro