Celebrating Arcadia University’s Class of 2017

By Caitlin Burns | May 23, 2017

Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Sandra Crenshaw with Class of 2017 graduate Jordan Cameron.

At Arcadia University’s Commencement ceremonies on May 18 and 19, more than 900 graduates of the Class of 2017 were encouraged to seize opportunities and break down barriers in their career and civic engagement endeavors.

President Nicolette DeVille Christensen presided over the Graduate and Undergraduate Commencements, sharing with baccalaureate degree recipients a special message from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The Justice, who visited campus in 2013 as the featured author of the First-Year Summer Reading Selection when many of these graduates were in their first semester at Arcadia, wrote to President DeVille Christensen, “Please tell your graduates that I wish them all the joy in dreaming big, working hard, and succeeding in all that they do.”

President DeVille Christensen noted how the Justice’s remarks and visit to campus four year ago provided a wonderfully symmetrical bookend to many of the graduates’ academic careers at Arcadia, adding, “That sentiment from the Supreme Court Justice points toward the path along which you have taken some first steps of aspiration, success, and service to all the communities with which Arcadia University engages, at home and in far-flung regions of the world.”

At Graduate Commencement on Thursday, May 18, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters recipient Dr. Samuel Cameron, mental health manager with the American Red Cross and Professor Emeritus at Arcadia University, encouraged the 400 doctoral and master’s degree candidates to use their new skills and training to give back to their communities and to find enjoyment in their careers.

“You are prepared to take advantage of opportunities that may occur, both those planned for and those that are unexpected,” said Dr. Cameron. “You know the virtue of hard work. When opportunity does arise, seize it. I wish you a great career, a fulfilling future, and may fortune smile upon you.”

The following day, more than 500 students processed onto Haber Green in the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony. Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts recipient Dr. Julianne Mamana Boyd ’66, co-founder and artistic director of Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Mass., told students to follow their dreams, but not to forget those who helped them along the way. Dr. Boyd also encouraged graduates to give to the next generation.

“I’m still waiting for the day we can break all barriers,” said Dr. Boyd. “As you graduate and go out into the world, dare to chase your dreams. Go forward with great confidence that you can make a difference and change the world.”

Members of the Class of 2017 achieved success on the regional, national, and international levels, including receiving Fulbright English Teaching Awards to teach in Azerbaijan and South Korea, competing in the New South Wales Edward Trickett rowing competition, co-organizing a regional conference to discuss the opioids epidemic, and publishing in national magazines for their respective fields.

Other Class of 2017 accomplishments include an honorable mention in the 2017 Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing, awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Region II Festival, and a National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar All-America Third-Team recognition.

Class President Daniel D’Albis ’17 announced that the Class Gift would be a contribution to the beautification of Arcadia’s campus.

“I want to congratulate those of you who are about to become alumni of Arcadia University,” said Board of Trustees Chair Charles Lentz ’03M. “Today is, in many ways, the culmination of the time and effort you dedicated to succeeding, and you should be most proud of your accomplishment.”

During Graduate Commencement, The Lloyd M. Abernethy Faculty Outstanding Service Award was presented to Dr. Kristin von Nieda, associate professor of Physical Therapy. Rebecca M. Purvis ’17 received the A. Richard Polis Graduate Scholarship Award.

At the Undergraduate Commencement, the University presented Tom Brinker, professor and executive director of the School of Global Business, with the prestigious Professor of the Year award for his outstanding service to the University community. Additionally, Jessica Braun ’17 received the Senior Golden Disc Award for leadership and commitment to the welfare of Arcadia. Katie Ann Whalen ’17 earned the Ira R. Kraybill Award for Full-Time Study for academic achievement, while the Ira R. Kraybill Award for Part-Time Study went to Jose Damian Lopez ’17.