Wednesday, May 11, 2022
Juliana Ortiz and Jennifer Fiander will address the Class of 2022
by Katie Nicholas
Senior Juliana Ortiz, a communication studies major, will deliver the student speech at the undergraduate Commencement ceremony on May 14.
Ortiz will speak to her fellow graduates about their strength and resiliency, especially over the past two years. In her speech, she notes that every graduating student has not only lived through a global pandemic, but also 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Great Recession, four government shutdowns, riots on Capitol Hill and the war in Ukraine.
A nontraditional student, Ortiz displayed her own resiliency in her educational path. She transferred to Rider from Middlesex County College almost a decade after originally planned. Ortiz paused her education to care for her mother who was battling breast cancer.
It was when she first visited Rider with her mother in 2010 that Ortiz decided she would attend the University.
“When I received my acceptance letter, it felt like I was fulfilling a dream that I had nearly 10 years earlier,” Ortiz says.
Ortiz was a member of Rider’s Model United Nations team, the Multicultural Student Leadership Institute and the Latin American Student Organization, where she served as public relations chair. After graduating, Ortiz will pursue a master's in international and intercultural communication at the University of Denver, where she received a graduate assistant teaching scholarship. She hopes to one day work for the United Nations. No matter where she ends up, she won’t forget her roots.
“The same way I'm forever a Jersey girl, I'm forever a Bronc,” Ortiz says.
Jennifer Fiander ’97, a master's of business administration graduate student, will deliver the student speech at the graduate Commencement ceremony on May 12.
Fiander, who is on the management committee at L’Oreal’s Franklin manufacturing plant, will speak to her fellow graduates about the power of their words and actions to make a difference in the world. Her speech includes part of an assignment her 13-year-old daughter, Sophie, wrote about Fiander's journey to earn her MBA and growth mindset, the ability to take on new challenges and learn from them.
Fiander has a special place in her heart for Rider, having completed her bachelor’s in communication at the University 25 years ago, while serving as the president of the sorority Zeta Tau Alpha.
During her time as a Bronc, Fiander has forged personal relationships with students and professors that reach beyond the classroom.
“My biggest takeaway from Rider is the professors and their accessibility and focus on the whole person,” Fiander says. “The soft skill development is where I thrived as these teachings focused on the power of being human.”
Rider University’s undergraduate Commencement will take place on May 14 at 2 p.m. at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, New Jersey. Entrepreneur Paul Muller will receive an honorary Doctor of Business. The graduate Commencement will take place on May 12 at 6 p.m. in Rider's Alumni Gym. New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
For more information about Commencement, please visit rider.edu/commencement.