Nearly 900 doctoral and master’s degree graduates in the William Paterson University Class of 2023 were celebrated for attaining their advanced degrees during two Graduate Commencement ceremonies on May 18 in the Sports and Recreation Center on campus.
Graduates of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the Cotsakos College of Business were recognized during an afternoon ceremony, while those earning degrees in the College of Education and College of Science and Health participated in an evening ceremony.
President Richard J. Helldobler gave remarks at each ceremony. “You truly embody the William Paterson mission to educate and put degrees in the hands of the students who are changing the social fabric of New Jersey and our country,” he told the graduates. “Your successful pursuit of a master’s or doctoral degree speaks to a special determination to advance in your chosen field and have a greater impact on your career, your family, and your community.”
President Helldobler encouraged the graduates to reflect and “think deeply about the path you have traveled up to this point in your lives. Just what kind of impact do you want to have on the world? How will you leverage your degree to achieve it; not just in terms of your next job or promotion – as important as those things are – but also over the course of the careers and the lives ahead of you? Whatever your answer, you can be sure that the world needs the kind of talent and dedication that you have to offer—the Will. Power. That got you where you are today, along with the specialized skills you have acquired at William Paterson.”
Noting that William Paterson is one of the most diverse universities in New Jersey, he urged the graduates to play their part in creating and sustaining a “beloved community.”
“We find ourselves at a point in history where we have become so polarized in so many ways that it is increasingly difficult for us to listen to one another, let alone hear each other in a genuine effort to understand those different from ourselves,” he said. “It is my hope—and I would argue it is your responsibility—that as you move out into the world and into your cities, towns, and neighborhoods, that you will use those skills to help promote a better understanding and appreciation of ‘otherness’ as a means of building true community.”
Emely Cosme, a research and development associate at Reckitt, who earned a master of business administration degree in January 2023, served as the graduate student speaker at the afternoon ceremony.
Cosme noted that she and her fellow graduates had gone “above and beyond the minimum education requirements to start our careers in pursuit of personal growth,” and that the decision to pursue graduate studies was a significant one. “For many of us, this meant balancing work, family, and academic responsibilities. Our discipline and time management skills were going to be put to the test as we navigated the demanding coursework on top of our already busy days,” she added. “Despite the obstacles we may face along the way, all of us graduating today decided we were up for the challenge. We decided the knowledge, skills, and personal growth that come with continued learning are invaluable.”
“Let us continue to challenge ourselves and strive for excellence, knowing that our pursuit of knowledge and growth will not only benefit ourselves but also those around us,” Cosme added.
Ashley Pauly, who earned a master of science degree in exercise and sport studies in May 2023, spoke at the evening ceremony. She described her journey from transfer student to earning her bachelor’s degree at William Paterson in exercise science and being selected as a graduate assistant in the Department of Kinesiology while pursuing her graduate degree.
“My time as a graduate assistant taught me many things about myself that I never knew, like how much helping the undergraduate students not only benefited them, but my own learning,” she said. “I had the amazing opportunity to work side by side with my professors on a regular basis. Their experience as exercise science professionals gave me the ability to flourish on my own, but always have their guiding hand.”
She encouraged the graduates to be grateful for the journey. “As each of you push onto the next chapters of your lives, don’t forget to enjoy the journey, laugh along the way, and do great things. Learning does not stop here, keep pushing for your dreams, and always be a student in life.”
The graduates, including many who earned degrees fully online through the University’s WP Online platform, processed from tents in Pioneer Soccer Park through festive arches of black and orange balloons to the Sports and Recreation Center. More than 2,000 family and friends filled the venue for each ceremony.
During the ceremonies, each degree candidate processed individually across the stage to receive their doctoral or master’s degree. Eight candidates were awarded doctor of nursing practice degrees, seven students were awarded doctor of psychology degrees in clinical psychology, and nearly approximately 865 were awarded master’s degrees. The students hail from 18 states and 36 countries.
2:00 p.m. CAHSS and CCOB Ceremony
7:00 p.m. COE and COSH Ceremony
View Graduate Commencement Photo Album »
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