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Campus & Culture

Celebrating Saint Joseph’s Largest Graduating Class Yet

This past month, close to 2,300 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students were awarded degrees from Saint Joseph’s University.

Students in regalia recessing from the graduation ceremony

Written by: Diane Holliday

Published: June 3, 2024

Total reading time: 3 minutes

Families, friends and loved ones celebrated Saint Joseph’s University’s Class of 2024 on Hawk Hill and in Lancaster, May 16 through May 20, 2024. This year’s ceremonies marked a number of firsts for graduates — not only was this the first class to graduate from the University’s new School of Nursing and Allied Health, but it was also the first undergraduate class to graduate whose higher education career began at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Student in regalia delivering valedictory address at Commencement
Valedictory speaker Ian Rowe-Nicholls, BS ’24, during the combined College of Arts and Sciences and School of Education and Human Development undergraduate ceremony.

“The Class of 2024 is without a doubt a resilient bunch,” said Ian Rowe-Nicholls, BS ’24, in his valedictory remarks at the combined College of Arts and Sciences and School of Education and Human Development undergraduate ceremony on Saturday. “Many of us entered adulthood amid the pandemic, grappling with the loss of defining moments of emerging adulthood, while working to keep our communities safe and healthy. … the pandemic makes me infinitely more grateful for the indispensable support systems in my life.”

Rowe-Nicolls was joined by more than 1,300 fellow undergraduates and a combined 923 master’s and doctoral students University-wide, making this Saint Joseph's largest graduating class yet.

Aerial view of graduates in their caps and gowns
Graduates at the Haub School of Business ceremony.

At the University’s Lancaster ceremony on Monday, May 20, the inaugural class of the University’s new School of Nursing and Allied Health received their Saint Joseph’s diplomas following the University’s merger with Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences in January. Graduates were awarded degrees including the Bachelor and Master of Science in nursing, as well as associate degrees in respiratory care, surgical technology and several other fields.

“We are in a unique position when working in healthcare. We have spent years studying, so we understand medical terminology, know different diseases and disorders, understand how to perform diagnostic imaging tests, and know how to administer breathing treatments; but our patients do not,” said Allyson Nicole Dull, BSN ’24, in her student address. “They come to us trusting that we have the knowledge and skills needed to care for them during a vulnerable time in their lives, and there is privilege in being in that position.”

Three graduates in black regalia standing shoulder to shoulder
Graduates at the School of Nursing and Allied Health ceremony in Lancaster.

Also receiving degrees this year were five honorary degree recipients whose careers have had a lasting impact on the Philadelphia community, from the founding of a nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness to a four-decades-long career spent advancing Catholic education and promoting safe environments for children.

The recipients — Most Reverend Michael J. Fitzgerald, H ’24, retired auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia; Philadelphia Eagles Defensive End Brandon Graham, H ’24, and his wife Carlyne Graham, H ’24, president and director/vice president, respectively, of Team Graham; Nishaminy Kasbekar, BS '93, PharmD '95, H ’24, FASHP, chief pharmacy officer and vice president of pharmacy services at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Penn Medicine; and Joan Dawson McConnon, H ’24, co-founder of Project HOME — proudly joined Saint Joseph’s network of Hawks around the globe.

Notably, Philadelphia Eagles Defensive End Brandon Graham, H ’24, rallied attendees around another bird during the festivities, leading the crowd at Saturday afternoon’s ceremony in the NFL team’s signature E-A-G-L-E-S chant. In true “Brotherly Love” fashion, Brandon was greeted with fist-bumps and handshakes as graduates crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. 

Carlyne and Brandon Graham in regalia holding "Dr. Graham" jerseys
Honorary degree recipients Carlyne Graham, H ’24, and Brandon Graham, H ’24, representing Team Graham and the Philadelphia Eagles.

President Cheryl A. McConnell closed each ceremony with a look ahead for the Class of 2024.

“You will change jobs and possibly careers more than any generation before you. You will be the largest voting block with the most power to shape the future – and you will engage. You will keep learning because the rate of knowledge and technology is accelerating. And, you are ready,” said Dr. McConnell.