At Arcadia University’s Commencement ceremonies on May 19 and 20, more than 850 students earned doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degrees and certificates, celebrating alongside community members, families, and friends. In Commencement addresses, honorary degree recipient Sonia Sanchez and Arcadia President Ajay Nair challenged the class while recognizing their extraordinary contributions to the University community as well as the world.
Sanchez, an international speaker, poet, and activist, received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and served as Commencement speaker at the Undergraduate Commencement on Friday, May 20. Dr. Doreen Loury, assistant professor of Sociology, noted in an introduction that Sanchez has impacted an untold number of individuals throughout the world with her live poetry recitations and lectures on Black culture and literature, women’s liberation, peace, and racial justice.
“You must finally answer the most important question of the 21st century, the 22nd century: ‘What does it mean to be human?’” asked Sanchez. “It is time now for young words, new ideas, young visions … young men and women sewing themselves into the sleeves of justice and activism and chance and love, inaugurating a new way of breathing in the world, a new way of breathing in the world.”
Sanchez ended her address with, “It’ll get better because of you and you and you and you.”
President Nair addressed the Class of 2022 on both days, tailoring his remarks to doctoral, master’s, and baccalaureate candidates at each ceremony and highlighting graduates who embody the University’s values. At the baccalaureate ceremony, President Nair spoke of how he took inspiration from the University’s K-pop student group, and in particular, how graduates Mercy Joseph, Christina Simard, and Maria Guzman helped him choose three K-pop songs to reference throughout the address.
“Along your educational journey, some may have doubted you,” said President Nair. “You may have doubted yourself. But today, we know that you are game-changers, paradigm shifters, leading difference makers with grit and tenacity. You say ‘I can’ when others say you can’t.”
Arcadia also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humanities to Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine. Iryna Mazur, Esq., Honorary Consul of Ukraine, accepted the degree on President Zelensky’s behalf during Graduate Commencement on Thursday, May 19.
Chair of the Arcadia Board of Trustees John Rollins, Esq., and Vice Chair of the Board Gretchen Santamour, Esq., offered congratulations to the Class of 2022 on Thursday and Friday, respectively. The Board members stressed reminiscing on the experiences that defined their time at Arcadia and the challenges they’ve overcome to reach their goals, thanking those who have sacrificed to make their education possible, and giving back to others whenever possible.
Additionally, Gillian Scott, a Media and Communications major, was selected to serve as student speaker. Her address to her classmates included taking listeners back to the last time they were on campus before COVID-19 hit and everything changed.
“COVID has made us understand the value of a moment, the value of human interaction and touch, and the value of the tight-knit community we have all worked so hard to rebuild,” Scott said. “Finding a silver lining of a pandemic is no easy task, but in the spite of everything, I believe we have. I am proud of every single person here today for pushing through this together.”
Arcadia also held a special ceremony at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 20 for graduating students who were playing in the NCAA baseball tournament earlier in the day.
Arcadia also presented special awards to faculty and students:
Dr. Vitaly Ford, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics, received Arcadia’s Professor of the Year award.
Dr. Margaret L. Longacre, chair of the Public Health Department, Masters in Public Health director, and assistant dean of research for the College of Health Sciences, received the Michael L. Berger Faculty Scholars and Artists Prize for pioneering scholarly or artistic work.
English/Creative Writing graduate Daijah Patton ’22 received the Senior Golden Disc Award for the highest standards of leadership in activities that enhance the quality of student life and demonstrate a lasting commitment to the welfare of the University. The award was presented by Maya Basu Johnson ’97, president of the Arcadia University Alumni Association.
The Ira R. Kraybill Awards for Full-time and Part-time Study were awarded to graduate Benjamin Arcona ’22 and graduate Samantha Pfeiffer ’22, respectively, for achieving the highest academic achievement in their full-time or part-time studies.