While separate graduation ceremonies this year pose a difficulty or annoyance to some seniors, graduation will pose a unique hardship for one set of triplets who will be graduating in three different ceremonies.
With the University’s plans to hold commencement on campus, dividing graduates into three different groups that will receive their diplomas at three different times, Adrianna, Anthony and Leo Bertoldi will be walking in three different graduation ceremonies.
Adrianna, a nursing major, will graduate with the College of Nursing at 8:30 a.m. on May 15. Anthony, a sports management and marketing major, will graduate with the Stillman School of Business at 1 p.m. Leo, a history major with a political science minor, will be the last of the siblings to graduate, marching at 6 p.m. with the College of Arts and Sciences.
Adrianna said the family is not sure how to tackle graduation now that she and her siblings will have to be at Seton Hall all day. She pointed out that she has a 95-year-old grandmother cannot attend now because she cannot sit there so long. The siblings also have other grandparents coming from out of state so “between that and travel time it’s gonna be taxing on them, so it’s putting a whole hardship on the family,” she said.
“It’s just like so disrespectful to the senior class that we can’t even have a proper send-off after everything, after all we’ve worked for,” Adrianna said. “Honestly, high school graduations have more options, or other high schools have been at the Prudential Center or somewhere like that and we can’t even get that on top of a commencement speaker.”
Adrianna recently took to Twitter to express her frustration, saying, “When my brothers & I are split up into all 3 time slots for graduation..my whole family has to sit all day until 7pm?! Come on, @SetonHall.”
Seton Hall’s Twitter page responded to her, writing, “Adrianna, we hear you. It’ll be a long day but we’ll work to make it a good experience for you and your family.”
To this, Adrianna said she is unsure how SHU can do that and make the day enjoyable for her family, considering that they will have to be on campus for around 12 hours.
When asked if she was excited for graduation, Adrianna said she was more disappointed than excited. “We’re the first in our family to graduate college ever so it was a big deal for everyone and now we’re all gonna be split up.” She said that while others will be celebrating with their friends and family, the triplets will not be able to.
Adrianna explained that she and her siblings thought SHU was the best option for what they all wanted to study, and when they visited before enrolling, SHU felt like home.
“Coming to senior year it’s totally different, it feels like they don’t even care about the student body,” Adrianna said.
Her brother Anthony said that the family will have to live with the school’s decision, but the fact that there has been so much controversy from others about graduation, especially from students, says something.
“We all figured we’d graduate together, we all graduated high school together and it’s funny because we graduated in birth order,” Anthony added. “We know we wouldn’t be on stage at the same time, but it’s something we’d all like to participate in at the same time and listen to the same speakers.”
Anthony said he feels that SHU has not taken into account every option and “it’s not acceptable when there’s so many options around the area.”
He added that he is not as excited for graduation anymore as it will be a hardship on his family and an inconvenience for all involved.
Bernadette McVey, director of Academic Events, Initiatives and Planning, previously told The Setonain that SHU representatives and Student Government Association (SGA) President Teagan Sebba did look into MetLife Stadium and Red Bull Arena. While Red Bull Arena was considered as an alternative, McVey said there were issues with the venue.
One issue was that graduates would have to sit in bleachers instead of on the field, which was a hazard, especially to women choosing to wear heels to graduation, McVey said. The Office of the Provost said this problem could be resolved by notifying graduates to wear flats.
However, Red Bull Arena ended up being booked for a soccer game the previous night, McVey said. This would make it impossible to set up the commencement ceremony in time.
Anthony said that he and his siblings went to the open houses and orientation where they were told by President Dr. A. Gabriel Esteban to look at the people around the room. This would be the first and last time the whole class would be together until graduation. Leo echoed this sentiment as well, also discussing what they were told.
“It never came to my mind we wouldn’t all be together,” Leo said. “It really doesn’t seem like the school did all they could to hold a proper graduation.”
Leo also said that Sebba, the Student Government Association (SGA) President, brought the senior class’ concerns to the University’s attention as well.
The triplets’ mother, Nancy Bertoldi, is disappointed in the way the University has handled graduation. She said, “Something that should be celebrated is going to end up being very stressful for my family.”
Mrs. Bertoldi explained that it is a difficulty for the triplets’ grandparents to attend all three graduations. She said she will have to juggle her family members around and they will have to pick and choose whose ceremony to go to. The triplets have another sister, Marissa, who would like to see her siblings graduate, Mrs. Bertoldi said. She added that the number of tickets given for each ceremony poses a problem as well.
“We never in a million years anticipated this.” Mrs. Bertoldi said. “My kids were actually afraid to tell me because they knew that I was gonna freak out.”
In addition, she wanted to know why Seton Hall couldn’t have chosen another day for graduation when they first announced in the beginning that all of this was happening.
“It just seems like they could n’t care less about our situation,” Mrs. Bertoldi said, “and yes it’s a unique situation, but with the price tag on that school it’s sad they can’t accommodate us.”
Mrs. Bertoldi said she had been hoping that at least two of them would be in a ceremony together.
“I don’t want it to sound like I’m not happy, I’m so excited for my children that they’re graduating,” she said. “They are the first generation to go to college and complete college and graduate so we’re all excited for them, but this is kind of putting like a passing shadow over it because of how it’s being handled and what we have to do.”
Both Mrs. Bertoldi and her husband, Dominic, contacted the University, but she said they were not given answers as to why the ceremony could not be held on another day. She would like to know why the graduation date was not locked in at the Prudential Center if SHU has been graduating there in the past.
They do not remember who they spoke to as they did not write down any names, but they called President Esteban’s office. The University sent out the email about graduation being held on campus on Nov. 18 and Mrs. Bertoldi called the University on Nov. 21. She said it took a few days for the University to return her call.
Mr. Bertoldi sent an email to Esteban on Feb. 10, but he said he has not yet received a response. Mrs. Bertoldi said the family has attempted to contact Esteban several times since November.
She said her husband called President Esteban’s office and had to leave a message. She said her husband said, “that when they did call him back you could tell that they had gotten a lot of phone calls, they weren’t really too nice,” she said. “They were not very receptive and it was almost like `Oh well, this is how it is’.”
When Mrs. Bertoldi spoke to someone at the University she explained that her situation is unique, but it’s her situation and she wanted to know what she was going to do with her kids graduating at different times that day. “I was told point blank. `Oh you’ll have to choose whose graduation you go to.’ And I said ‘That’s a joke, right?’”
McVey did not respond to a request for comment. Dr. Joan Guetti, senior associate provost, also declined to comment.
Mrs. Bertoldi added, “I’m very disappointed in the University and how they’re handling this and how they’re handling parents that call.” She said, “You can tell that they’re mad, they’re mad that we’re all complaining about it (graduation).”
“This is a passing shadow on the graduation for all of these kids, not only my own, but for all these kids and all these families,” Mrs. Bertoldi said. “It should be a happy time, it should be a stress free day and by doing this it has made a lot of people very unhappy.”
Samantha Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.