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Caldwell University Celebrates 77th Commencement

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Caldwell University celebrates 77th commencement

Former secretary of higher education Rochelle Hendricks receives honorary degree

Caldwell, N.J., May 19, 2019 – Caldwell University celebrated its 77th annual commencement Sunday, May 19 awarding degrees to 467 graduates.

Marisa Castronova of Nutley, New Jersey, delivered the student address at the graduate commencement ceremony. She advised her fellow graduates to consider the person who earned the degree and to remember that he or she is the driving force behind the degree. “A degree is not a living entity…It can’t walk, it can’t talk.” Castronova, who received her doctorate in educational leadership in December, said, “Consider you, the person who earned it. Consider you, the person who decided to embark on an educational trek requiring hard work, dedication and sacrifice.”  She encouraged graduates to take time to reflect on what they have learned about themselves. “For knowing who you are and what you are capable of will enable you to transform knowledge into something great.” Castronova is a science educator at Robert L. Lazar Middle School in Montville, New Jersey.

Kathryn Marano, also of Nutley, delivered the undergraduate commencement ceremony address. She suggested to graduates that they are all “rocket scientists” who have been building rocket ships that will lift off when they leave the auditorium. Utilizing the image of the rocket ship, Marano said the classes they took were the framework of the ship, while the attributes they learned at Caldwell including kindness, resilience, integrity and respect would help  them navigate the rocket ship “through tough and uncharted territory.” The most important components of the rocket ship are the team of professors, classmates and staff whose guidance students will take with them after graduation, she said. “With the rocket ship complete, we are ready to take on the world, and I am confident that we will be the pioneers of the future and successful in whatever paths we choose.” Marano will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with minors in small business entrepreneurship and marketing in August.

An honorary degree was awarded to Rochelle Hendricks who served as the first secretary of higher education for the state of New Jersey from 2011 to 2018. She encouraged the graduates to imagine the world the way they would like it to be and to let the light of God shine through them as they strive to make the world a better and brighter place.   “As you make a living, be sure to make a life,” and remember the values that are timeless and transcendent, she said.

Members of Caldwell’s class of 1969, marking their 50th anniversary, were recognized.

President Nancy H. Blattner, Ph.D., presented doctoral students with their Ph.D.s and Ed.D.s, graduate students with their Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration or Master of Science degrees and undergraduates with their Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Fine Arts or Bachelor of Science in nursing degrees.   A Master of Science in Accounting degree was awarded posthumously to Kelly Marilly Gonzalez. Her brother accepted the degree from Dr. Blattner.

President Blattner told the graduates that it was a day of great joy and pride for them, their family members and loved ones who supported them. She said the university was “sending you forward, not just as graduates, but as people who we expect to make a difference.” She advised them to stay connected to their alma mater that has “not only been your learning community but also your family for four years.” Each student, she said, “has made an indelible impression on me.”

Laurita Warner, chair of the Board of Trustees and alumna, said some things at Caldwell never change like a welcoming environment, dedicated and caring faculty, “an administration who work tirelessly to provide a campus where students can thrive and learn, and the mission inspired by Saint Dominic and our Catholic tradition to prepare students to think critically, pursue truth and contribute to a just society. And friendships that last a lifetime.” She extended two wishes to each of the graduates, “the gift of memories of Caldwell University as fond as mine are and the very best future life has to offer.”

Undergraduate and master’s students wore gowns made from 100 percent post-recycled plastic bottles.