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GCU Graduates Urged to Embrace Challenge and Continue Learning

Graduation day

GCU graduates should remember that receiving a degree does not mean that they are finished learning.

During the Graduate Commencement Ceremony on May 19, the nearly 200 graduate students receiving their master’s degrees were reminded that change was inevitable, and that they must continue to grow, simply to keep pace, and that education remains a lifelong process.

“Never stop learning. Throughout my career, I’ve never stopped learning, and I’m always eager to learn more,” said John K. Lloyd, FACHE, president and CEO of Meridian Health, who delivered the Commencement address at the graduate ceremony.

Mr. Lloyd, who received an honorary Doctor of Health at the ceremony reminded the graduates to adapt in response to change, and to “never accept ‘good enough’ as good enough because the world is going to keep changing, and so should you.”

Miriam Felicia Hunte ’16, president of the Student Government Association Executive Board, who spoke on behalf of more than 275 students at the undergraduate ceremony on May 20, also encouraged her fellow graduates to continue to learn.

As we celebrate today, it is important to understand that life is, in fact, a journey, and not a destination,” said Miriam, who reminded her class that the theme for their GCU Orientation in 2012 was “Make Your Mark!”

“So I charge each of you—never stop learning, never stop improving, and never stop inspiring others. This is how we will maintain our excellence and make our mark in this world,” added Miriam, who was awarded the Julia Blake Alumni Award as the senior who best displayed outstanding loyalty and service during her GCU years.

Embrace Challenge for the Benefit of All

Three others were awarded honorary doctoral degrees also epitomized the ceremonies’ running theme of embracing challenge. Rose Martin, RSM, Ph.D., a Sister of Mercy who was awarded an honorary Doctor of Health degree at the graduate ceremony, was noted in her introduction as living “in the poorest zip code in the poorest big city in the country, Philadelphia,” where she co-founded Hope Partnership for Education, a middle school and adult education center that serves the people in her neighborhood. Sister Rose also serves as executive director of the school. Maria Cordis Richey, RSM, Ph.D., Georgian Court’s sixth president and a professor emerita of English, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters 66 years after earning her bachelor’s degree from Georgian Court. It was during her tenure as president that the first graduate program and the first coeducational undergraduate programs were instituted. John R. Garbarino, chairman of OceanFirst Foundation and chairman and former CEO of OceanFirst Bank, received a Doctor of Public Service degree for expanding philanthropic efforts in the Jersey Shore community through the creation of the foundation.

Mr. Garbarino, who delivered the Commencement address at the undergraduate ceremony, shared his personal challenge story about fighting stringent banking regulations to create the OceanFirst Foundation. He urged the Class of 2016 “to face the myriad of challenges that confront you and resolve to make a difference in the lives of future generations.” He noted that a “lifetime of challenges” awaited them and encouraged them to “go forward and meet these challenges to provide a better world for all future generations.”

His words were echoed by GCU Provost William J. Behre, Ph.D., who noted that embracing challenge doesn’t just affect others. He reminded all in attendance that “we should seek out challenges, specifically because they are difficult—because they can change the world and because they can bring out the best in us.” Dr. Behre advised the graduates to “define what things in the world need changing and how facing these challenges could bring out the best in you.”

Paul Nii-Ankamah Addo II ’15, who spoke on behalf of his fellow graduate students, expressed hope that he and his fellow graduates will do their “very best to use the knowledge and skills acquired from our education and from our life experiences to make this world a better place.”

Click here for more photos and videos from the day’s events.

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 15 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.

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, GCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online degree and certificate programs.