Commencement Ceremony caps undergraduate career of nearly 900 Rider students

The Class of 2018, along with family and friends, celebrates in Trenton
Adam Grybowski

Thousands of friends, family, faculty and staff joined nearly 900 undergraduate students on Friday, May 11, at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, New Jersey, to celebrate their graduation from Rider University.

“Graduates, I have no doubt that you will also achieve significant success and bring great credit to yourselves, your families and your alma mater — for this is the greatest gift you can give back to Rider University,” said President Gregory G. Dell’Omo in his opening remarks.

Acclaimed entrepreneur Norm Brodsky ’64 received an honorary Doctorate of Business and addressed the crowd. Brodsky has founded eight successful businesses, including Citi storage, the largest privately owned archive business in the country, and has been a contributing writer to Inc. magazine's "Street Smarts" column since 1995.

“If you want success in your life, keep your reputation,” Brodsky says, who donned a purple Rider beanie contemporary to his undergraduate years for his speech. “Your reputation is going to dictate how far you get in life.”

The students are prepared to continue the strong record of outcomes amassed by previous graduating classes. About one in two students, or 48 percent, participated in an internship or co-op or were student teachers. Eighty-two of them competed as part of Rider’s Division I athletic programs, and 61 of them took advantage of Rider’s study abroad programs to travel the world.

About 7 percent of the Class of 2018 were born abroad, representing 25 countries, including Saudi Arabia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Costa Rica and Japan. Of those born in the U.S., about three-quarters come from New Jersey. Overall, 21 states are represented in the Class of 2018, including Texas, Nevada and Wisconsin. About a third of the Class are students of color.

By gender, females represented the majority of the Class of 2018, making up 58 percent of all undergraduates — slightly less than last year, when the Class of 2017's females made up 60 percent of all undergraduates. Female-dominated graduating classes at Rider have followed a similar trend in the U.S. since the mid-1990s.

During the ceremony, Tyshaye Smith, a psychology major, was brought on stage and surprised by the appearance of her sister Shamera, who is currently a specialist in the U.S. Army and has been deployed in Iraq for the past 10 months. Dell'Omo also presented Shamera with a commemorative coin from the University's veterans’ program.

Journalism major Gianluca D'Elia, who served as the social media manager and news editor of the University's student newspaper, The Rider News, and participated in several internships, including the online news site Planet Princeton and was a correspondent for the The Hudson Reporter, delivered the student speech.

"We’re going out into the real world and in the real world, being unique is not always celebrated," D'Elia who, after graduation, will delve further into investigative journalism as an intern for's crime and justice team, says. "Remember to love the person you are, never stop growing, be the person you want to be and never stop shining your light."

Dr. Kathy Price, an associate professor in the Department of Piano and Voice, and Dr. Karen Gischlar, an associate professor in the Department of Graduate Education, Leadership, and Counseling, both received a Distinguished Teaching Award in recognition of their dedication to students. Dr. Mitchell Ratner, an associate professor in the Department of Finance and Economics, received the Dominick A. Iorio Research Award.

Following the ceremony, Kara Jonsson, a musical theatre major from Watsonville, California, won a brand new 2018 Toyota Camry LE from Team Toyota of Princeton; it was the grand prize of the Cruisin' from Commencement contest organized by the University's student-run radio station, 107.7 The Bronc. To participate, students created two-minute videos detailing their Rider experience. The prize includes a two-year lease plus ToyotaCare, Toyota’s free 24-month service and roadside courtesy of Team Toyota of Princeton.

The event marked the second year in a row that Rider’s Lawrenceville Commencement was held off-campus. Holding Commencement ceremonies at CURE Insurance Arena allows the University to offer more ceremony tickets per student than it was able to provide when inclement weather forced Commencement indoors.