A cross-section of first-year students provides a glimpse into the variety of new Hawks that make up the fall semester’s incoming freshman class.
On Saturday, May 22, nearly 2,300 students participated in Saint Joseph’s University’s Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021. Graduates and guests were invited to celebrate either in person or virtually via livestream.
Over 1,100 undergraduate students’ degrees were conferred that morning on Hawk Hill. Later that afternoon, over 1,100 graduate and doctoral students were also awarded their degrees.
It was a triumphant end to a year filled with Zoom and in-person classes, virtual club meetings, masked gatherings and physical distancing. Throughout it all, Saint Joseph’s University remained on ground for the entire 2020-2021 school year – one of only three Philadelphia-area colleges to do so.
“Uncertainty. Unprecedented. Unexpected … words too overused in the past year-and-a-half as you’ve learned to navigate a pandemic and at the same time continue moving forward in pursuit of your degree,” said President Mark. C. Reed, Ed.D., in his address to the students. “I was witness to how you have persevered through major shifts in just about every aspect of your lives – from your coursework, to your living situation, to your employment and your family and social lives. And let me say … I am beyond impressed with and proud of how you have managed it all.”
Students were eager to have an on-campus, in-person Commencement together, and University faculty, staff and volunteers worked tirelessly to make that vision a reality while ensuring attendees’ safety and comfort.
Graduates attending the in-person exercises processed across a stage erected between Curran Field and St. Mary’s lawn. Guests viewed the event in person on Curran Field, or via a livestream in a viewing area at Sweeney Field. The livestream was also watched by the Golden Hawks from the Class of 1971, who would traditionally be attending the event in person.
“This long-standing tradition is a symbol of the lasting connection our students and alumni have with the University,” said Cheryl McConnell, Ph.D., provost and vice president of academic affairs.
Maura Flynn ’21, a double major in biology and psychology, provided the undergraduate student remarks. In her speech, she also acknowledged the trials of the past year.
“Our lives were greatly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic,” she said. “But together, we stayed home, learned to take classes online, returned to campus and navigated the ever-changing world during a pandemic. We succeeded at staying healthy and protecting each other while keeping the heart of the campus alive.”
Together, the undergraduate and graduate students represent 98 majors, and hail from 40 U.S. states and territories and 23 foreign countries, from Canada to Australia, Saudi Arabia to Panama.
In addition to celebrating the graduating class, three faculty members were honored for their exceptional teaching, research and service. Faculty members Ronald Dufresne, Ph.D., associate professor of management, provided the Commencement address to the undergraduates, and Aimee LaPointe Terosky, Ph.D., offered the Commencement address for the graduate students.
In her speech to her fellow graduates, Sarah Haydu ’21 (M.S.) emphasized the importance of lifelong learning, and encouraged her classmates to remember the lessons they learned on Hawk Hill.
“As we continue on from here, let us not forget the foundation we built during our time at St. Joe’s,” she said. “It is our responsibility to build upon this foundation using the tools we’ve earned to create a better world. Education is the bridge between the world as it is, and the world as we want it to be.”