After more than a year of mainly virtual learning and events, the Arcadia University Class of 2021 celebrated on campus together in socially distanced, in-person Commencement Ceremonies on Thursday, May 20 and Friday, May 21.
Over six ceremonies, Arcadia University awarded more than 900 doctoral, master, and bachelor degrees and certificates under blue skies on Haber Green.
Family and friends cheered as graduates’ names were announced, while those streaming the ceremony online offered congratulations through live social media praise using #Arcadia2021.
At the Friday ceremonies, Arcadia University President Ajay Nair addressed graduates, stepping to the podium as Lil Baby’s “Bigger Picture” played, which Dr. Nair noted is a perfect reflection of the Class of 2021.
“Through all the turmoil that you have experienced, you have taught us what resilience truly means,” said President Nair. “One of the positive elements of the past year has been the opportunity to see your brilliance in action—and as Lil Baby says, to see you make it count, to see the student become the teacher.”
President Nair noted that the Class of 2021 has taught him three things over the last year: relationships and connections are critical; to always be prepared for the unknown and unexpected; and that there’s always opportunities to make radical changes in inequitable systems and thinking. He urged the Class to remember how Arcadia University has prepared them to not only find problems and challenges but solutions as well.
Through an academic year of all-modes and hybrid learning, and with a pandemic raging around them, the Class of 2021 persisted.
Among graduates were the 2021 International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition team, which placed first in Performance, Reports, and Presentation; a Philabundance’s Healthy Pantry Initiative (HPI) Competition winner; and a Public Relations & Marketing Masterclass fellow with Cashman and Associates and the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.
Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology President Pedro Rivera, who earned his Superintendent’s Letter of Eligibility at Arcadia in 2005, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, while Jiangsu University Professor of Mathematics Dr. Danchien Lu was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Mathematics from Arcadia University.
During the ceremonies, English and Media and Communications major Lashanna Bryant ’21 was announced as The Senior Golden Disc Award recipient, while Keisha Robinson ’17MEd, ’23EdD was honored with the A. Richard Polis Graduate Scholarship Award.
“The world expects a great deal from us, and while that may sound overwhelming, we can do it because we are not just ordinary graduates—we’re Knights,” said Bryant, who also served as Class of 2021 student speaker. “We are advocates, inquisitive activists—powerful, open-minded and, despite being told no, we have always found a way to say ‘yes actually, we can and we will.’”
Additionally, Arcadia University Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Dr. Amy Miller was honored with the Lloyd M. Abernethy Faculty Award for Outstanding Service on Thursday, while Arcadia University Assistant Professor and Head of the Theater Arts Program Mark Wade was awarded Professor of the Year on Friday.