Class of 2011 bids farewell to the Hall
Seton Hall University’s class of 2011 received their degrees during the school’s 154th Baccalaureate Ceremony on Monday at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivered the keynote address to the 2,281 graduates and their families, as well as University faculty and administration.
While introducing Christie, Dean of Seton Hall Law, Patrick Hobbs tried to defuse some of the tension that has been present since the University announced he would be the keynote speaker.
“All of us, whether democrat, republican or independent, know we are in a period of great transition,” Hobbs said. “Never before has the relationship between people and their government, local, statewide, and national, been so strained”
Despite mixed reactions from those in attendance, Christie addressed the seniors, telling them “not to take today’s accomplishment lightly” and to “recognize the freedom that education provides you for your future.”
The ceremony also included the awarding of an honorary degree to Father Robert O’Toole. Monsignor C. Anthony Ziccardi presented the degree to O’Toole.
As he did at the class of 2010’s commencement ceremony, Msgr. James Cafone spoke on behalf of Newark Archbishop John J. Meyers.
Meyers could not attend due to “back problems,” Cafone told the audience, the same reason he did not attend last year’s ceremonies.
Melissa A. Filipeck, a graduating senior who received her degree from the College of Nursing, delivered the valedictorian speech.
Prior to her address, Filipeck said that she wanted to “kindle a fire in people that will keep burning long after my speech is done,” and that despite being “exhausted with work for the past four years” that she is “ready for the next stage in life.”
Kevin Stevens, who received a Bachelor of Arts in English, noted that the speeches were all very well written.
“The speeches were beautifully done,” he said. “The crowd noise was a distraction at times but the ceremony in general was extremely memorable.”
Several other students found the ceremony to be enjoyable including the 2011 Salutatorian, Brian Lucas.
“I thought the ceremony was a nice tribute to the class of 2011 and all that we have done,” Lucas said.
Many seniors, like Rory Manning, found it hard to believe that their time at the University has ended.
“It is unreal that after four years I am leaving Seton Hall,” Rory Manning said. “This school has changed my life in many ways.”
Jeremy Hazell, member of the men’s basketball team for the past four years and all-time leader in three point shots in Big East history, said he was thankful for his time at the Hall.
“It was a great ceremony and a blessing to be here,” Jeremy Hazell said. “It has been a great four years and I wish I could stay, but all good things must come to an end.”
As the ceremony concluded students were seen celebrating amongst each other despite having been told to keep their caps and tassels in honor of their achievement.
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