Cabrini University conferred a total of 462 degrees on Saturday, May 22, as the Class of 2021 gathered under a tent on the Upper Athletic Field for the University’s 61st Commencement exercises. Separate ceremonies for each of Cabrini’s four Schools—Business, Arts, and Media; Education; Humanities and Social Sciences; and Natural Sciences and Allied Health—were celebrated throughout the day with limited seating capacity and mask-wearing requirements, per COVID-19 mitigation measures.
“Your entire Cabrini experience has been building to this moment,” said President Donald B. Taylor, PhD, addressing the Class of 2021. “The degree you’re earning today, be it a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a doctoral degree, was earned through an Education of the Heart, dedicated to academic excellence, leadership development, and a commitment to social justice. You chose a Cabrini education to prepare you for whatever comes next. You chose a Cabrini education to Live with Purpose.”
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Chioma Ugochukwu, PhD, conferred the degrees during each ceremony, after the graduating students crossed the stage when the respective Dean announced their names. In all, Cabrini conferred 276 bachelor’s degrees, 164 master’s degrees, and 22 doctoral degrees.
Board of Trustees Chair Frank R. Emmerich Jr., JD (’92, HONʼ21), a commercial trial lawyer at Eckert Seamans in Philadelphia, delivered the Commencement address and received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during the 9am School of Business, Arts, and Media ceremony. Emmerich’s address, which was recorded and shown at the day’s other three ceremonies, encouraged the Class of 2021 to share their experiences and teach older generations how to be strong advocates for the common good.
“You are the class of moving forward,” he said. “Continue to lead me, and the rest of us, forward. Challenge and teach us about equity. Challenge and teach us to understand there is community where we see differences. Challenge and teach us to reject violence. Challenge and teach us to nurture our environment and not destroy it. Teach us to care about one another.”
“We have given back to the community, by being listeners, helpers, and giving love to those around us,” she said. “We have changed, adapted, grown, and most importantly learned—not just inside but beyond the classroom. Today, we are not who we expected to be, we are better.”
Class of 2021 Valedictorian, Victoria Vernon (ʼ21), who completed her double major in English and Secondary Education in December 2020, addressed her classmates during the 2pm School of Humanities and Social Sciences ceremony. A prerecorded version of Vernon’s address was shown at the remaining ceremonies. The Collegeville, PA, native is the third in her family to earn a Cabrini degree, following two brothers, Drew and Trent, who graduated in 2017 and 2019, respectively. She encouraged the Class of 2021 to focus more on the “firsts” ahead of them than their last classes, student engagement events, and athletic events as Cabrini students.
“We have the knowledge to excel in our professions and help others along the way,” she said. “We have the compassion to speak up against injustices and serve others. We must choose to live a life of purpose and constantly look for the ‘firsts,’ not the ‘lasts.’”
Vernon has been teaching in Carmel, CA, since finishing her coursework and said she asked her first grade class what it means to be a graduate.
“May we believe in ourselves like the student who said [graduates] are the ‘smartest people in the world,’” she said.
Evarlyne Ndunge Ndeti ('21) received the Mother Ursula Award, an annual award named for the Cabrini’s founding President. This special recognition goes to a student nominated by the campus community and selected through a vote by his or her peers for having best fulfilled the ideals of the University through academic achievement, participation in extracurricular activities, leadership, and service to fellow classmates and to the institution. A candidate for the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a native of Kenya, Ndeti majored in Social Work and minored in Psychology, graduating cum laude. She received the 2021 Vice President’s Award for Leader of the Year and was named Campus Ministry’s Leader of the Year this year and Emerging Leader of the Year in 2020.
Maria Khan (ʼ21), a Biology and Pre-Med major who immigrated to the United States from Pakistan at age 12, delivered the invocation in person at the 4pm Natural Sciences and Allied Health ceremony. It had been prerecorded for the day’s first three ceremonies.
Piper Byrne (ʼ23), a Marketing major, sang the National Anthem, while Matthew Santangelo (ʼ21), a Digital Communication and Social Media major, sang the Cabrini Alma Mater. Both performances were prerecorded and shown at each ceremony.
University Chaplain Fr. David Driesch, O.Praem, delivered the benediction at each of the day’s ceremonies.
Videos of each ceremony are available to watch on the Cabrini University YouTube page. View photo galleries from each ceremony here: Business, Arts, and Media; Education; Humanities and Social Sciences; Natural Sciences and Allied Health.