Family and friends gathered on May 20 in the crowded Prudential Center to celebrate Seton Hall’s 2019 Baccalaureate Commencement Ceremony.
At around 9:30 a.m., the ceremony began with graduate Anna Carpenter singing the national anthem, which was followed by Archbishop of Newark Joseph Tobin presiding the assembly in prayer.
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Interim Provost Karen Boroff, as the first administrator to speak, welcomed the audience to this, “most joyous celebration.” She introduced the faculty, listed the Board of Regents and announced the dean for each college. As each dean was introduced, the respective college’s graduates erupted in applause.
Valedictorian and graduate from the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology James Gebhart delivered his speech where he described Seton Hall as a home where strangers become lifelong friends and a place where the community works together toward the common good.
Gebhart continued in his speech to address students’ anxieties for the next chapter in their lives but assured the crowd with a quote from Pope John XXIII saying, “Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential.”
The ceremony’s commencement speech was delivered by Bob Ley, an ESPN anchor and Seton Hall alumnus. Ley is an eight-time Sports Emmy Award winner for Sports Journalism, and he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in communications in 1976. He began his career in broadcasting as a sportscaster and program director at WSOU, Seton Hall’s radio station, and was inducted into the station’s Hall of Fame, according to WSOU’s website.
Ley discussed his personal experience as a first-generation student and how Seton Hall has continued to keep first generation students at the forefront of its mission. In his commencement address, Ley provided advice to the 2019 graduates counseling them to maintain “nuance” and “grace” in conversation with others amid society’s “hurricane of vitriol.”
He instructed graduates to promote critical thought and reasonable discussion, while also being graceful and kind when engaging in conversations with others. Lastly, he encouraged the graduates to “get off your parents’ Netflix account.”
Throughout many introductions and speeches, students and faculty alike reiterated the common sentiment that Seton Hall is a “home for the mind, heart and spirit.”
Interim President Mary Meehan reinforced this message in her charge to the graduates. She counseled the students to remain fearless in pursuit of their goals and reminded them to make the marginalized a concern in their future endeavors.
Students expressed their fulfilling time at Seton Hall and how the academics and social life prepared them for the next phase of their lives.
Daniel Voronin, a graduating diplomacy and international relations and economics major, plans on attending law school with a full scholarship along with the hope of practicing international or immigration law. He also claimed Seton Hall prepared him with worthwhile classroom settings for the next chapter of his life.
“I believe that many of the classes I took at Seton Hall prepared me for real-world experiences and scenarios that I will one day have to face,” Voronin said.
Remaining at Seton Hall for the next two years, Simran Anand, an occupational therapy major, will continue to pursue her dual degree program leading to a Bachelor of Arts in Social and Behavioral Sciences (SOBT) and a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT). Anand said for the next stage of her life, Seton Hall has her well-prepared for experiences in and outside of the classroom.
“I’ve learned a lot from my time at Seton Hall not just academically, but as a person as well,” Anand said. “It has given me so much I can’t even put into words.”
Thomas Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.