More than 480 Rider students graduated during a ceremony on May 12, 2017
Adam Grybowski

On Friday, May 12, students from Rider University’s graduate programs and the College of Continuing studies were joined by friends, family, faculty and staff at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, N.J., to celebrate their graduation. More than 480 students received their diplomas at the ceremony.

“You should be proud of yourselves because not only have you made it today, but I’m confident that you can look forward to more success,” said President Gregory G. Dell’Omo in his opening remarks.

Rochelle R. Hendricks, the first secretary of higher education for the State of New Jersey, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws.

“Our state is counting on you to uphold a tradition of excellence,” Hendricks told the audience. “There’s no doubt in my mind that you are bound for extraordinary success. I urge you to go where you can make a difference. Set your own personal standard of excellence. At the end of the day, your sense of purpose will transcend the obstacles that are sure to come.”

Argelis Nivar ’17, who was graduating with a master’s in counseling services, delivered the student speech at the ceremony. Nivar earned a bachelor’s in electronics engineering in 2004 from Johnson & Wales University. Originally from Elizabeth, N.J., he is the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Now the father of two, he currently works as a quality assurance at Zodiac Aerospace – Americas and a counseling intern at The Arc Mercer in Lawrence, a group that serves more than 1,000 children and adults with developmental disabilities.

“We have all been faced with obstacles along our path towards completing our degrees,” Nivar told the attendees. “We did not ‘get’ our degree, we ‘earned’ it. There was a choice to be made and we chose to continue moving forward and finish what we started.”

Dr. Trevor Buser, associate professor in the Department of Graduate Education, Leadership, and Counseling, and Dr. Sharon Morrow, assistant professor in the Department of Music Education, both received a Distinguished Teaching Award in recognition of their dedication to students. Dr. Jonathan Mendilow of the Department of Political Science received the Dominick A. Iorio Research Award.

Franziska Schmitt ’17, an international student from Stuttgart, Germany, who was graduating with a master’s in business communication, presented the class gift on behalf of the Class of 2017. This year, gifts were made to The Rider Fund in support of the Class of 2017, which support things like financial aid and scholarships, academic program enhancements, study abroad opportunities and campus improvements — such as the new fire pit — for Rider students. Donors were given the opportunity to honor the members of Rider's faculty and staff who made a difference in their lives at Rider. Ninety-three members of Rider’s faculty and staff have been honored.

Thirty-nine percent of those earning a graduate degree at the ceremony had received a bachelor’s from Rider. Most of the class (68 percent) were female, and one out of 10 was an international student. The class represented 15 countries, including Morocco, Argentina and Singapore. Twenty-three percent were non-white, slightly less than students from the College of Continuing Studies (28 percent).

Sheldon Steele ’20 closed the ceremony by singing Rider's alma mater, “Cranberry and White,” written by Robert D. Helvering, Westminster Choir College adjunct assistant professor.

The event marked the first year in recent history that Rider’s Lawrenceville Commencement was held off-campus. Holding Commencement ceremonies at The Sun National Bank Center allowed the University to offer more ceremony tickets per student than it is currently able to provide when inclement weather forces Commencement indoors.