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GCU Hosts Fall 2020 Commencement in the Face of COVID-19

2020 Commencement Procession

The Class of 2020 had waited a long time for this moment. And on October 17–18, it finally happened.

More than 600 people attended GCU’s 2020 Commencement on that sunny Saturday and Sunday, joining in three ceremonies to celebrate nearly 200 in-person graduates. The ceremonies, which were split into three events to comply with state limitations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, included a ceremony for master’s-degree graduates on Saturday and two ceremonies for bachelor’s-degree graduates, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

Attendance may have been limited, but the joy was endless, and masks could not contain the smiles of the graduates and their families.

Welcome to the Georgian Court Alumni

Along with GCU President Joseph R. Marbach, Ph.D., and Provost Janice Warner, Ph.D., Alumni Association President Alice Bosies Velez ’84, ’93 welcomed the newest graduates back to campus and acknowledged the challenges they had faced.

“You will stand out among all of our alumni as pioneers of adaptability, resilience, and strength,” Ms. Velez noted in her address. “I encourage you to draw on these experiences when facing the challenges of what comes next. Use this experience to think creatively when problem solving. Don’t accept limitations.”

2020 Commencement “Will Happen, Happening, Happened”

Cynthia Shymanski ’20

Graduates Cynthia Shymanski ’20, Howell, and Daniel Ginchereau ’20, Marlton, spoke on behalf of their fellow classmates at the 2020 Commencement. Cynthia, an M.B.A. graduate from Howell, spoke at Ceremony 1 to the master’s degree graduates. She urged them to keep the Mercy core values top of mind when making decisions—both everyday ones and those guiding your career and life.

“Understand that your choices should reflect who you are, and your own values and moral principles. Compete with no one other than yourself so that you can make a better you,” said Cynthia. “Strive to make decisions that will leave this world a better place because you were in it.”

Daniel, the president of the 2019–2020 Student Government Association Executive Board, spoke to his fellow bachelor’s-degree graduates at Ceremonies 2 and 3 and quoted an unusual source—Cartoon Network’s animated series Adventure Time. He explains that in the final episode, the characters are faced with great difficulty and don’t know what will happen to their world. One of the characters sings the following song, “You and I Will Always Be Back Then,” which unites the characters and allows them to work together to solve the challenges:

Time is an illusion that helps things make sense
So we are always living in the present tense
It seems unforgiving when a good thing ends
But you and I will always be back then

Will happen, happening, happened.
Will happen, happening, happened.
And we will happen, again and again,
‘Cause you and I will always be back then.

Daniel Ginchereau ’20

“These words, ‘will happen, happening, happened,’ help us to cope with changes in our lives, the loss of loved ones, and the fear of the future,” said Daniel. “To think that we could be living contemporaneously within each moment of our lives along with the feeling of our current experience. . . . It allows us to reflect on all of the events that got us to this moment.”

“Be proud of who you are today, be thankful for those who have helped you reach this point, acknowledge what you have accomplished,” he added. “Most of all, be excited for what tomorrow has to offer.”

Read the full speeches and download the program, and view more videos and photos from the 2020 Commencement Ceremonies. Additional content from the May Celebration of the Class of 2020 can also be found on the Commencement 2020 website. Photos by Russ DeSantis. Highlight video by Denielle Balint Avila ’15.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Georgian Court University is a leading regional university that provides a transformative education, preparing students for ethical leadership and service in the Catholic Mercy tradition. Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. The university has a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women.

As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 1,900 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 16 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings, and in 2024, GCU was named one of the best Online Master’s Colleges in New Jersey.

The main campus is in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students through its Center for Professional Studies, and at other locations, including GCU at Brookdale, and through multiple online degree and certificate programs.