Seton Hall University celebrated the graduation of 1,052 undergraduate students during its 152nd Commencement Ceremony Monday at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
"I'm in shock right now, I don't really know how to feel," Andrew Gonzales, a graduate, said. "College went by so quick. I'm overwhelmed. I don't think it has hit me yet that I'm going to be in the real world." Gonzales, who received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, said he plans on traveling before attending law school next year.
"I'm incredibly excited," said Hazel Koshy, a graduate who received a Bachelor of Science in Diplomacy and International Relations. "I'm so happy to be graduating from Seton Hall with this group of people. This class is amazing."
P.J. Carlesimo, a former Seton Hall basketball coach; Bill Raftery, a CBS sports analysis and Luna Kaufman, chair of Seton Hall's Sister Rose Thering Endowment for Jewish-Christian and Holocaust studies, were all honored with a Doctorate of Humane Letters degree.
Each honoree delivered short remarks of inspiration to students with a theme of asking students to give back to the community and help to shape the world into a better place.
Carlesimo, who was the men's head basketball coach at Seton Hall for 12 years and led the team to win the 1989 NCAA championship game, encouraged students to volunteer, serve the poor, demand more from politicians, support school boards and work for improvement.
"You are our hope, 2009," Carlesimo said. "Help us to believe again in our country and each other."
Ricky Evans, a graduate, offered similar advice to underclassman.
"Stay involved and you'll get all your memories from that," he said.
Valedictorian ToniAnne Giunta, who received a Bachelor of Science in Education, spoke about her Seton Hall experience in terms of a process leading to her ultimate goal, much like a potter who begins with raw clay and ends with a masterpiece.
"As we underwent our collegiate experiences, Seton Hall University took the raw clay into its hands and molded us so that we, too, could someday shape the future of the world," Giunta said.
The enthusiastic students, many who adorned their caps with glitter, stars, Greek letters, personal messages and photos, cheered and waved to family and friends as they were personally acknowledged for their academic achievements.
"To see other people that you came in as freshman with and we're all finally seniors graduating - it's a good feeling for everyone," said graduate Paul Gause.
As the names of graduates were announced, several students blew up beach balls and students reacted with a roar of excitement as they bounced them back and forth.
In true Seton Hall spirit, the new elated graduates chanted "Go Pirates" when the ceremony ended.
Separate ceremonies will be held for Seton Hall's 1,070 graduate students. Seton Hall will graduate a total of approximately 2,122 undergraduate and graduate students this year.