With the pandemic still a worrisome factor in daily life, Neumann University took a creative approach to host in-person graduations, scheduling three for Saturday, May 15, and another three on Sunday, May 16.
Students graduated in groups of approximately 100, each permitted to have only two guests at the event. The six commencement exercises were held outdoors, under a tent on the front lawn of the Mirenda Center. Guests were seated in pods to observe social distancing guidelines.
The three ceremonies on May 15 (held at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 4 p.m.) were for the Class of 2021. The Class of 2020, for which there was no in-person event last year, returned to campus for its commencement on May 16 for ceremonies held at the same three times.
Approximately eight hundred degrees were awarded during the two days although about half of the Class of 2020 did not attend their delayed ceremony.
Daniel Mulhall, Ireland’s ambassador to the United States, spoke at the 1 p.m. ceremony on Saturday. He and his wife Greta received honorary degrees from the university.
“The world that you are entering may be a less dangerous one, without the threat of nuclear conflict between East and West, than the world of 1980 when I entered the foreign service,” said Ambassador Mulhall, “but you will be living in a far more complex world with complex challenges: the changing environment, pandemics, cyber-attacks.”
He closed by advising graduates not to be complacent. “With dedication, determination, and a continued commitment to learning, the sky is the limit.”
In her commencement address, Valedictorian Amanda DeCarolis reminded her classmates of the obstacles that they had overcome: “This year [of COVID] taught us through its challenges that while not every day is a good day, there is good in every day. We learned new ways to communicate, learn online, and work, all while striving to gain real-world work experience in an everchanging and challenging job market.”
The Neumann Class of 2021 also included twin sisters Halle and Jillian Crane. The young women came to campus from a small town in Ontario, Canada, in 2016, and their college careers have been as similar as they are. Both played ice hockey and golf, both graduated with degrees in Nursing, and both landed jobs at Christiana Hospital where they start on the same day, July 12.