Graduates, Families Return to Campus for Joyous Drive Thru Celebration

By Caitlin T. Burns | September 28, 2020

I think the celebration was just perfect for the times…

– Facia Sirleaf ’20M, IPCR Graduate

Rain, wind, and a pandemic couldn’t stop members of the Class of 2020 and their families returning to campus for the University’s first-ever drive thru celebration on Sept. 26 and 27. 

In groups of 40 or fewer, nearly 200 graduates from the Class of 2020 and their families paraded around campus in decorated cars as they were cheered on by friends, faculty, and staff. At designated stops around campus, graduates could exit their vehicles for photos. At Grey Towers Castle, graduates took a long-awaited walk across the stage and heard their names called as members of Arcadia’s faculty and staff cheered them on from the sides.

“I had no idea what to expect, but I was blown away,” said Carolina Marrero Rodriguez ’24, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sports Psychology and a minor in Spanish. “It really made me feel like I was finally being recognized for my accomplishments and celebrated. I’m really glad I was able to come and take part in it.”

A video from human rights activist John Prendergast, one of the 2020 Honorary Degree recipients, kicked the day off with a video to graduates that encouraged them to not only have pride in their professional pursuits but also their volunteer opportunities as well.

“Our value as a human being isn’t just about what job you’re going to get—it’s so much more,” said Prendergast. “What you choose to do will be a major reflection on your priorities and your values for the rest of your life.”

Nearly 1,000 graduates earned bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees in the Arcadia Class of 2020. Members of the Class include the University’s first Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation recipient, a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant award recipient, and a two-time, First-team American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American, who led the team to their 2019 Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Championship.

“My biggest takeaway from Arcadia is the lesson that I kept learning in my program which is that conflict is inevitable but how you respond can truly have the biggest impact,” said International Peace and Conflict Resolution graduate Facia Sirleaf ’20M. “I think the celebration was just perfect for the times we are currently going through. It allowed for graduates to still feel a symbolic closure to all their hard work while celebrating with loved ones.” 

On May 15, Arcadia hosted Grad-away-tion, an online ceremony to recognize graduates on the date Commencement was originally scheduled. During this online ceremony, graduates could watch videos recorded by Provost Jeff Rutenbeck, President Ajay Nair, Board Chair Alison Aaron Madsen, Esq., ’85, and U.S. Representative Madeleine Dean ’20H at any time, and rewind or fast forward at their leisure. Due to COVID-19, a celebration was postponed until September.

“I am really pleased we were able to do this for the students who were able to participate,” said Dr. Nancy Rosoff, dean of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies. “It’s a nice recognition of all they have been through and a way to send them off from Arcadia with a little bit of a celebration.”