By Alicia Cook
Capping off a year of 150th anniversary celebrations, on Friday, May 18, 2018, Bloomfield College embraced 320 new alumni at the College’s 145th Commencement Ceremonies. Distinguished guests, families, and friends joined the College community on campus, as students received Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees from Bloomfield College as well as master degrees.
The institution conferred recognition upon its distinguished retiring faculty during the program, with Dr. Glen Hayes and Dr. Glenda Kirkland receiving Faculty Emeritus honors.
College President, Richard A. Levao, gave special mention to the Alumni Marshal, Reverend Ernie Kosa, from the class of 1945. Rev. Kosa was a chaplain in the United States Army and received the Bronze Star by order of the President of the United States.
Honorary degree recipients included New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy; Christian McBride, Grammy-winning jazz bassist; and Prof. Deog-Seong Oh, President of Chungnam National University.
“Looking at the crowd today, I see the promise of New Jersey, I see the pride of New Jersey, I see the great diversity of New Jersey. And most importantly, I see the future of New Jersey,” said Governor Murphy, in his remarks, elevating his voice over the applause. “Bloomfield College is a leader in the state and among the leaders of the nation…Help us to raise the whole of society. Help us ensure that the New Jersey you hand off to your children is better, more equal, and more tolerant than the one you have inherited…It will be your jobs to see the next great wave of societal change through. I know you are up to the task. Your generation has already shown that it is ready to lead. Your generation is not letting anyone tell you to sit down and wait your turn. You will become this nation’s leaders. I, for one, am really excited to see your generation do so.”
“Every last one of you here today are all jazz musicians. Everyone sitting out there is Duke Ellington, Mary Lou Williams, Miles Davis, or John Coltrane,” said Christian McBride. “When you go through life, and hear people speak, that’s a note. The rhythm of everyday life is a drum pattern. When you are around friends or strangers, that’s your harmonic foundation. In life, you create these wonderful notes and songs, based on rhythm, melody, and harmony.”
“My father encouraged me to dedicate my life to helping others. I try to reach students through actions, rather than words, as an educator. I believe it is more important to live for others, than to live for oneself. It is a lesson I try to instill in my three daughters and my students. Living for others is something I hope you all consider as you graduate today and take with you on the next chapter of your lives,” said Prof. Oh, who shared with the crowd that his parents, who were refugees from North Korea, are his number one supporters.
Bloomfield Mayor, Michael Venezia, attended the ceremony. The day also featured remarks from other notable speakers, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, John Delucca ’66; President of the Alumni Association, John Murdock ’73; and Class of 2018 Valedictorian Nadira Fant, a Creative Arts & Technology student.
“As we all set goals and make plans for the things we want to accomplish, just remember that sometimes life doesn’t always go as planned,” said Fant, speaking directly to fellow graduates. “It’s okay to stumble or even fall, but you can’t let it slow your momentum. Whatever life brings, don’t lose focus on what you set out to accomplish. Instead, learn to adapt to change and rise up to any challenge you may face because you just may surprise yourself, I know I did.”
Following Commencement, in a sea of decorated caps, maroon diplomas, balloons, flowers, and smiles, both graduates and guests continued the celebration on a very crowded Liberty Street.
“I am thrilled to have been invited to speak at Bloomfield College, especially as the institution celebrates its 150th year,” said Governor Murphy. “Bloomfield College is a mission-driven institution of higher learning that has a long history of making education accessible to those who have all too often believed that a college education was out of reach. Bloomfield College gives students the building blocks they need to learn, graduate, get high-paying jobs, and contribute to New Jersey’s economy. The success of Bloomfield students is a true testament to the value that the school provides graduates.”