Commencement ceremony recognizes students of Rider's graduate and continuing studies programs

On May 18, 476 students marked a significant milestone on their educational journey
Adam Grybowski

Rider University conferred 476 degrees to graduating students at the Graduate and College of Continuing Studies Commencement at CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, N.J., on Saturday, May 18.

“It was your deep love of learning that led you to Rider and set you on a journey to expand your horizons,” said President Gregory G. Dell’Omo in his opening remarks. "Your education has broadened your skills and experiences that shape your lives and has deepened the knowledge base on which you can draw."

Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian ’07, a two-time Olympic athlete and former Rider University track and field standout, received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and delivered remarks to the class. In her address, she struck the themes of the importance of taking risks, being willing to fail and remaining resilient throughout the process.

“Despite fear, I've taken many risks and I've accepted that failure is part of the process," Fenlator-Victorian said. "Do you have the guts to fail, to fail forward? You'll be surprised where failure can lead you. Have tenacity. Define who you are through your failures and that will be your ultimate success."

Shanza Arooj ’19, who received a master’s in business administration, delivered the student speech. Arooj's collegiate and professional career took a pause after she completed her undergraduate degree and start a family in the United States with her husband.

“For some, graduation feels like an end, and for others, a beginning,” Arooj said. "Though time is linear we must understand that our lives do not have to be. Life is much more flexible than we give it credit for. So, take it easy and put your best foot forward — time is on your side."

Thirty-seven percent of those earning a graduate degree at the ceremony had previously received a bachelor’s from Rider. Most of the class (70 percent) were female, and 10 percent hailed from outside of the United States. The class represents 15 countries other than the U.S., including Kuwait, Luxembourg, Vietnam, Australia and Nigeria. Twenty-six percent were students of color. In the College of Continuing Studies, 40 percent were students of color. Twenty percent of College of Continuing Studies students called a state outside of New Jersey home and 13 percent were international students.

Dr. Danielle Jacobs, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Physics and the director of STEM Scholars, and Dr. Kathleen Pierce, a professor in the Department of Graduate Education, Leadership, and Counseling, both received a Distinguished Teaching Award in recognition of their dedication to students. Dr. Heather Casey, a professor in the Department of Teacher Education, received the Dominick A. Iorio Research Award.