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College honors grads at 141st Commencement

By: Andrew Mees, Director of College and Athletics Communications                    communications@bloomfield.edu

A late-May tradition, Bloomfield welcomed 352 graduates – setting a new, lofty standard as the largest class in school history – into the ranks of institutional alumni at the annual Commencement ceremonies on May 22.

Bestowing Master of Science, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees on the record-breaking group, the College bid farewell to students who each took their own unique journey to the seminal moment in their educational experience.

“You will hear today how the world is changing, and how you have to change as well,” President Richard Levao told the graduates in his opening remarks. “But today is the day to celebrate, and take a snapshot of who you are at this moment and to love what you have become, and what you will become. Because as the singer Bruno Mars has said, you are amazing just the way you are.”

The capacity crowd gathered on the school’s Quad section of the campus grounds was treated to remarks from a trio of distinguished guests, including class valedictorian Martin Wolf, an international student hailing from Germany who earned the school’s top undergraduate accolade as a summa cum laude honoree.

“Nelson Mandela once said that education is a powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” he said in his address to his fellow classmates. “My hope is that you take these words and your experiences here at Bloomfield out into the world and use them to change it.”

Retiring members of the school’s distinguished faculty received recognition and earned the distinction of Professor Emeriti for their decorated careers and service to the institution during the proceedings. Professor of Psychology Dr. Terry Glover, Professor of Psychology Rashmi Jaipal, Associate Professor of Mathematics Robyn Serven, Associate Professor of Digital Video Hank Smith and Professor of English Paul Genega each bid farewell to Bloomfield after decorated tenures at the College.

Combining for 110 years of educating students, members of the quintet held positions including division chair and chair of the faculty, and served on committees including the General Education Committee, the Committee on Academic Programs and the Gay/Non-Gay Alliance. Innovators in their respective disciplines, each broke new ground during their stays at Bloomfield, helping to create dynamic educational offerings for generations of students.

Guests and graduates also heard inspirational words from the institution’s two honorary degree recipients, Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad and Alison Stewart.

The director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, Dr. Muhammad’s scholarship has been featured in publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post. An author, scholar and social activist, his book The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America received the 2011 John Hope Franklin Best Book Award in American Studies.

“You, the Class of 2014, have beaten the odds,” he proclaimed during his stirring speech. “Your education is not just for you – your education is for all of us. You must define success by the health and well-being of those in your communities. Make sure your grandchildren and great grandchildren are all sitting together one day, sharing in another joyous occasion.”

An award-winning journalist, Stewart has reported from the floor of six presidential conventions during her decorated career, and has anchored major news events from Hurricane Katrina to the shootings at Virginia Tech University. Her work during the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 earned her an Emmy as a member of ABC News, and she received a Peabody Award in 1992 for her groundbreaking political coverage as part of the popular MTV News program “Choose or Lose”. Also an author, her first book entitled First Class: The Legacy of Dunbar, America’s First Black Public High School was published in 2013.

Stewart utilized the historic school as the overarching theme for her inspirational remarks, quoting the school’s mantra – a poem by African-American poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar – to urge graduates to maintain the grit and discipline that helped them earn their respective degrees.

“If the hills are high before you, and the paths are hard to climb, keep a-pluggin’ away. I want you to have an awesome day today, and most importantly, to keep a-pluggin’ away.”

The day concluded with a special honor from trustee and alumnus John Delucca ’66, with the president of the institution’s Alumni Association bestowing a new moniker on the newly minted graduates.

“You are now part of an elite and special group; the alumni of Bloomfield College,” he said. “Bloomfield gave me a start, and it has given you a start. The school has been an inspiration to me, and I know it will be an inspiration to all of you.”

For more coverage of Bloomfield’s 141st Commencement and to view an archived version of our event’s online live streaming, visit us online at bloomfield.edu/commencement.