Graduate and Undergraduate Students Walk Together For the Last Time
Approximately 430 graduate and undergraduate students were awarded degrees in the University’s last winter commencement in the OceanFirst Bank Center on Friday, Jan. 13.
The end of the mid-year ceremony marked a new tradition for the University: from now on, there will be two separate commencement ceremonies for undergraduate and graduate students respectively in the spring, instead of having both a winter and spring commencement that awards degrees to both groups at the same time.
“It is keeping very much in line with our strategic plan where we also talk about creating a very distinctive graduate student experience, and commencement is a part of that. The needs of our graduate students in terms of the kind of ceremony you hold are very different. We would still continue to focus our attention on having a primary speaker for each [ceremony],” said Mary Anne Nagy, Vice President of Student life and Leadership Engagement.
“If I were speaking to undergrads, my message would be very different than it is to someone that is getting an advanced degree, been in their field for a number of years, maybe making a career change, maybe getting that degree to move themselves up, who did it while raising family [or] working a full-time job,” Nagy continued.
The final winter commencement was a symbolic and meaningful one for students like Nicole Benis, a member of the winter graduating class. “Graduation was definitely an exciting but weird day for me since it was the end of my college career. I definitely felt sad as the Monmouth community [has] become so important to me.”
Benis waited to receive her diploma after listening to a number of speeches including one by Henry D. Mercer III, Chair of the Board of Trustees. He said, “My participation in graduation is the best part of being Chair of the Board,” he said. “I get to witness firsthand the smiles on the faces of all of you who are about to step up and receive your well-earned diplomas.”
President Paul R. Brown, Ph.D. was among the first to congratulate the graduates and charge them with newfound responsibilities. “You are leaders of the world,” he said. “Our world needs leaders engaged in productive civil discourse, especially when good people with good intentions disagree.”
Two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Class of 1999 alumna, Christie Rampone, received the University’s most prominent alumni honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award. As a successful member of the US Women’s Soccer team, Rampone encouraged students to stay true to themselves and persevere through life’s tough times. “Believe in yourself. Be you, be who you are. And always remember what wakes you up every day to be you and what inspires you, and bring that with you into your next chapter and into your workplace. Have that positive energy that’s contagious and good things will happen,” she said.
Brown then went on to award an honorary doctorate to the keynote speaker of the afternoon: John Esposito. Esposito, Chairman and CEO of Warner Music Nashville, detailed his life story, focusing on the risks he took throughout his journey. He looked back on his past and offered valuable advice to the class of 2017. “Have ideas, but accept that the road of life is a process and one to enjoy,” he said. “Change before you have to learn from failure and fail quickly.”
Mallory Inselberg, another member of the winter graduating class, had an enjoyable experience at the University. She said, “I fully and wholeheartedly believe Monmouth has prepared me for a life after undergraduate school. I am continuing my education in graduate school, however, Monmouth University really prepared me for being able to say I am moving on, and not being afraid to do so.
IMAGE COURTESY of Lifetouch Photography