GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP – The confetti fell on the Class of 2020 at Stockton University on Friday, but it did so virtually, as the class celebrated eCommencement online at home, sharing their day on social media rather than at Boardwalk Hall.
The website went live at noon, when commencement would have begun at Boardwalk Hall, and within the first two hours had 6,000 unique page views.
“We would love to congratulate each and every one of you, to present your degrees in person, to shake your hands,” said President Harvey Kesselman in a prerecorded address. “But as you know, the current global health crisis has presented considerable challenges to our time-honored traditions of commencement.”
Still, he said, Stockton was proud and privileged to carry on the tradition of recognizing graduates.
“Let not the challenges we face keep you from fulfilling the very charge that brought you to Stockton,” Kesselman said. “I say this without reservation and with every confidence because I believe in you.”
Kesselman recognized two students who have reached out to help during the Covid-19 crisis. Graduate student Gavin Rozzi of Lacey Township printed 3-D masks for essential workers and social work major Ashley Berenato of Hammonton led a project by the Gerontology Club to make cards for residents in nursing homes who could not have visitors.
Stockton Board of Trustees Chairman Leo Schoffer congratulated the graduates and noted that every generation has been faced with challenges. He thanked them for their dedication in rising to the challenge of completing their degrees.
“This dedication will serve you well as you move forward to the next stop in your journey,” he said.
New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Zakiya Smith-Ellis was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at Boardwalk Hall. Instead she led the congratulatory shout-out video honoring the students. Others on the video included New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Student Senate President Ariana DeFillipo, Athletic Director Kevin McHugh, Vice President for Student Affairs Christopher Catching and many faculty members and staff.