Arcadia Celebrates Class of 2023 at Commencement Ceremonies

By Dan DiPrinzio | May 24, 2023
Arcadia presented an honorary degree to Sara M. Lomax, the president and CEO of WURD Radio.

More than 800 students earned doctoral, master’s, and baccalaureate degrees and certifications in front of community members, families, and friends during Arcadia University’s Commencement ceremonies on May 18 and May 19. 

Addressing the Class of 2023 on sun-splashed days on Haber Green, Arcadia Board Chair John Rollins and University President Ajay Nair told graduates to take the time to appreciate all they have achieved in their time at Arcadia and challenged them to reach as high as possible in their future careers and endeavors. 

“You have shown resilience, strength, vision, innovation, and leadership,” said Rollins. “As you advance in your professional lives, continue to set goals that will propel you to extraordinary achievements. Always remember to acknowledge those who have sacrificed to make your education possible, and to give back to others in a similar way whenever possible.”

President Nair’s remarks highlighted members of the class who embody the University’s values. Each year since joining Arcadia in 2018, President Nair has incorporated lyrics from various musical artists into his Commencement addresses. This year, he worked with students to identify lyrics from Taylor Swift that captured the themes and experiences of members of the Class of 2023.  

“I’m proud to announce that I’m the first president in Arcadia history to become a Swiftie,” Nair said of joining the Taylor Swift fan club on campus. “But really, all of you have helped me craft this speech today. It’s a speech about heroism, and I see many heroes in our audience today. Research suggests that heroism is more than just one act. Heroes show concern for the well-being of others, they demonstrate cultural humility, they want to understand the views of others, they have a strong moral compass, and they aren’t afraid to face fear. And our Class of 2023 embodies these traits and attributes.” 

Allannah Giles ‘23 was selected as the student speaker during the baccalaureate ceremony. During her speech, Giles talked about how the class of 2023 adjusted to a new life at college and then had to adjust again to “Zoom University.”

“For some of us, college was our first feeling of freedom,” said Giles. “It’s incredibly hard to be young in a new place… It’s like living in a strange social experiment. When you’re young, they assume you know nothing, but we proved them wrong and adjusted to our new lifestyles.”

“Then, that new home felt like it was taken away from us because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she added. “I’d like to thank the faculty and administration for the grace they had in handling this global pandemic in a place that promotes global experiences.”

The University also conferred honorary degrees on astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Arcadia trustee Sara M. Lomax, president and CEO of WURD Radio in Philadelphia. 

“Don’t celebrate what you’ve earned today; lay out for yourself what you will earn in the future,” said Tyson. “It’s going to be our job going forward to create a world that our descendents will be proud of because of our actions and decisions.”

Nancy Glass, a six-time Emmy Award-winning producer, writer, and journalist who is CEO and executive producer for Glass Entertainment Group, served as Commencement speaker at the Thursday ceremony, telling graduates to go for what they want and continue to keep working until they find what they love doing.

“Don’t be tripped up for what you perceive to be a mistake,” said Glass, who also serves on the Board of Trustees at Arcadia. “I tell the people I work with that mistakes are learning opportunities. The road to success is always under construction. If you make a mistake, forgive yourself. You can’t be discouraged by the process or overwhelmed by the possibilities.”

Lomax, who addressed the baccalaureate Class of 2023, detailed how she overcame challenges and found new opportunities in her life, both personally and professionally. 

“I share my journey with you so that you know, as you walk into your future, whatever is thrown at you, you will survive and even thrive,” she said. “Be fearless. Work hard, play hard. You must seek balance in your life. The relationships you have made at Arcadia will grow and mature as you do. You never know who will be your next boss or employee, so be kind and honorable in all your interactions.” 

Arcadia also presented special awards to faculty and students: 

Lloyd M. Abernethy Faculty Outstanding Service Award: Dr. Christopher Varlack, Ph.D.

Professor of the Year Award: Dr. Steven Robbins, Ph.D.

Senior Golden Disc Award: Hannah Cropper ’23

The Ira R. Kraybill Award for Full-Time Study: Julia Maurer ’23 and Brikel Remper ’23
The Ira R. Kraybill Award for Part-Time Study: Emily Campanelli ’23 and Atia Rahman ’23