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Seton Hall University

Congratulations Class of 2024 Graduates!

Graduates and Audience at the Prudential Center

Seton Hall graduated 1,232 students with baccalaureate degrees, 700 with honors.

Seton Hall University celebrated its 168th Baccalaureate Commencement on Tuesday, May 21, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Delivering the commencement keynote address was Gary Cohen, one of the most highly respected sportscasters at the professional and college levels.

Adorned in Pirate blue amidst pomp and circumstance, the University graduated 1,232 students with baccalaureate degrees, 700 with honors. In addition, 815 graduate students received master’s and doctorate degrees this commencement season, making the total number of graduates this year 2047.

Vice President for Student Services Monica Burnette welcomed the Class of 2024 to resounding applause from the crowd. She then began the proceedings, noting that “It is the custom at Seton Hall University to begin the commencement procession with a pipe band, to honor the Scottish origins of its namesake and patroness, Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton.” The procession was led by Chair of the Faculty Senate Professor Nathaniel Knight, Grand Marshal.

The national anthem was sung by Zena Karam, a biochemistry major in the Joint Bachelor’s/M.D. program who is set to start medical school in July.

Cardinal Joseph William Tobin, C.Ss.R.

Cardinal Joseph William Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark Delivering the Invocation to the Class of 2024

Cardinal Joseph William Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark and University Chair, Board of Trustees and President, University Board of Regents, delivered the Invocation to the Class of 2024. "Let us join our hearts and minds in prayer," said Cardinal Tobin. "Heavenly Father, we gather today to honor the graduates of a great Catholic university named for your faithful servant Elizabeth Ann Seton. Through her intercession we ask that you bless these graduates and all who have supported them through their years of study."

Cardinal Tobin also prayed for peace, saying "God of love and mercy, we pray for an end of all violence – whether in our neighborhoods or faraway lands. Help us to see that war is never the answer. That violence can never solve the problems in our society or among nations. We pray especially for the people of Ukraine, Israel, Palestine and Haiti – and for other war-torn nations. May they know lasting peace."

The Cardinal prayed that God would "help us work tirelessly to address the root causes of violence: poverty, addictions, mental illness and injustice."

Sister Rafaella Petrini, F.S.E.

Sister Rafaella Petrini, F.S.E. Receiving the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters

Sister Rafaella Petrini, F.S.E.
After the Invocation, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President Erik Lillquist, who served as Master of Ceremonies, began the process of conferring the honorary degrees. Lillquist welcomed back His Eminence Cardinal Tobin who introduced Sister Raffaella Petrini, F.S.E. as a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist and Secretary General of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

Noting that the presence of Saint Elizabeth Seton "is still evident” on “this beautiful campus," Sister Petrini implored the graduates to become "leaders who are not only attentive to tools, techniques and results, but leaders who are capable of listening, accompanying and guiding; leaders who care for people and things entrusted to them, who are constantly driven by the desire to work for the good of all."

She told the Class of 2024, “Now it is time for you to move on and apply the knowledge and skills you have learned. Continue to develop your gifts and talents, grow as a person, but also give back by leading others in their own path to growth."

Noting that "Catholic Social Thought makes it clear that structural changes can only be achieved through personal change," she told the graduates, however, that "It is my hope that the knowledge and skills acquired at Seton Hall University will facilitate your growth in awareness of the mutual responsibility of the human family."

'The Age-Old Battle, Seton Hall Graduates vs. The World'
After receiving his Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, the keynote address was delivered by Gary Cohen. Cohen was introduced by veteran sportscaster and commentator with SNY and the Seton Hall Basketball radio network Dave Popkin, who said: "If this were a game, this is how I envision Gary calling it: And a pleasant good morning from Prudential Center in downtown Newark. Gary Cohen and Dave Popkin with you. A capacity crowd on hand for an age-old battle. Seton Hall graduates vs. the World. Just one more hour and they’re Outttta Here!"

Gary Cohen and Katia Passerini

Gary Cohen Receiving the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Gary Cohen is known primarily as the New York Mets' radio and television play-by-play announcer – and has also called Seton Hall basketball games for more than 20 years.  He recounted in his address how the University has impacted him over time, saying "as I've come to understand the deeper meaning of the Seton Hall experience, I have also had the pleasure of meeting countless students, alumni, administrators and clergy. And the feeling of warmth and community that emanates from this place and these people has changed my life forever."

To the Class of 2024 he acknowledged their overcoming of adversity as well as their success and the challenges that await. "There’s no disputing it," he said. "Your generation has been dealt a difficult hand. And yet, you have persevered, you have accomplished, you have overcome, and sit here today as graduates. And you should be immensely proud."

Cohen further crystalized that thought, saying "The path that your generation has taken to this point has not been an easy one. And my generation should never take for granted how much you have had to overcome."

Citing their sense of empathy and inclusion Cohen told the Class of 2024 that it may be "the kindest generation yet."

Having said that, Cohen discussed climate change and expressed the challenges they will face in existential terms, saying "It will be up to you, and your peers, to save this planet, and save the human race."

Cohen cited this year’s Men’s Basketball Team as an example of the fighting spirit they would need. That team refused to accept defeat as a final answer and chose to compete in the NIT, winning a national championship. Cohen urged the graduates to engage the world in the same way, saying "that should serve as a great example to all of us. You WILL get knocked down. Get back up and give ‘em your best."

Valedictorian Olivia McCue

Olivia McCue Delivering Valedictory Address

Valedictory Address, Olivia McCue
Students achieving the highest GPA from each college and school were invited to participate in a process to select a Valedictorian to deliver a commencement address that reflects on the meaning of their Seton Hall experience and how it has led to a special vision for the future. From this process, a student to give the Valedictory address as well as two alternates were chosen.

The Valedictory Address was delivered by Olivia McCue, a Nursing Major and Women and Gender Studies Minor. She is from Pinehurst, North Carolina. During her time at Seton Hall, Olivia served on the Educational Policy and Academic Integrity Committees for the College of Nursing. She is also a proud member of Sigma Theta Tau. Her research includes feeding practices in children with cerebral palsy and maternal mortality in birthing people of color. After graduating, Olivia will be moving to Washington, D.C., to work as a registered nurse in the Cardiovascular Institute at George Washington University Hospital. She hopes to one day become a Nurse Practitioner.

Recounting her experience at Seton Hall, she noted that for the Class of 2024

Our class began our college careers at the height of a global pandemic. For many of us, this is our first real graduation ceremony. My last graduation was a drive through. My name was read, I pulled up, and to the sounds of car horns I received my diploma with a side of cheese fries. This one… is a little different. The summer before we landed at Seton Hall, NASA launched another exploratory rover to Mars. There has been Sojourner, Spirit, and Opportunity. We’ve also had Curiosity and Ingenuity. But this rover, our rover, is Perseverance.

McCue thanked family and friends and faculty "for teaching us how to be neighbors who honor and celebrate diversity and civic and global leaders, not only in our professional careers, but in the community as well." Noting that "a servant leader is someone who strives to selflessly serve their community,” she stressed the need to “to lead with compassion, integrity, and humility" and again, perseverance.

"With the collective heart, mind, and spirit of the Class of 2024," she said. "I leave you with the words of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton… 'Perseverance is a great grace. To go on gaining and advancing every day, we must be resolute.'"

Interim President Katia Passerini

Interim President Katia Passerini Addresses the Class of 2024

The Charge to Graduates, Interim President Katia Passerini

Presenting the Charge to the graduates was Interim University President Katia Passerini, Ph.D. She noted that the graduates are "about to enter a complex world where problems and challenges abound. As you embark in your careers or your future studies, you will be called on to find solutions."

She implored the Class of 2024 to take a lesson from Steve Jobs and "Simplify, simplify, simplify," noting "after all this is what St. Francis, Mother Cabrini or St. Elizabeth Ann Seton believed."

Stressing the importance of simplification, she told the graduates that they "will have access to a deluge of data and pre-fabricated answers to anything you can ask Al. The ability to understand these data and answers is your superpower."

Passerini further clarified the nature and origin of that power:

The ability to think and act critically that you learned at Seton Hall is what feeds your superpower. Turn that information into new products, new services, new policies, new lessons, new art and music, and new ways to help humanity, and you will be successful.

In closing, she said, “And while you are at it, make your products, services, artistic or other works and your solutions elegant and beautiful.

"If you do that, if you just do that, you will improve the world and leave your mark on the universe."

Paul Tyahla '03, M.B.A.'23

Paul Tyahla '03, M.B.A.'23 Welcomes Newest Alumni

Incoming President of the Alumni Board of Directors Paul Tyahla '03, M.B.A.'23
Incoming president of the Alumni Board of Directors Paul Tyahla '03, M.B.A.'23, welcomed members of the Class of 2024 to the alumni family of Seton Hall. Noting that there are more than 100,000 Seton Hall alumni across the globe, he said "This diverse yet close-knit community is here for you throughout your lives and careers. Know that all 100,000 of us are cheering for you today."

Closing Prayer, Seton Hall President-elect Msgr. Joseph R. Reilly, S.T.L., Ph.D.
President-elect Monsignor Joseph Reilly presented the closing prayer.

Dear Lord,

On this day of endings and beginnings, our hearts are filled with gratitude.

We are thankful for our graduates, their families and loved ones, and our Seton Hall family around the world.

We are thankful to you for guiding their young minds and bold hearts to our campuses.

We are thankful for the opportunity to have them in our care during this significant time in their lives.

And we are thankful for the contributions they have made to our University,  in neighboring communities and in far-flung places throughout the world.

Now Lord, we send them into that world – a world that desperately needs them,
their presence and action, their conviction and courage, their creativity and compassion.

We are grateful for their intellect and talent, which you, in your great wisdom and generosity, have made known to them.

We are grateful for their optimism and energy, with which they will imagine a better world, and work to achieve it.

We are grateful for their faith because only through faith in you, our good Lord, can we understand and accomplish the plans you have for us.

As they leave here, we pray they will never forget the lessons they learned at Seton Hall. May they never forget that they are surrounded by love. Friends, family, and a caring faith community will continue to support them.

May they never forget that you are with them every day. You are there on the best days and especially on the worst days.

And we pray there will be many more best days than worst ones.

Now, Lord, we entrust them to your care, dearest Father, confident that you know what is best for all of us.

Bless them, keep them, make your face shine on them and be gracious to them now and throughout their lives.

We make this prayer through Christ Our Lord. Amen

For more information about the speakers and Seton Hall’s 168th baccalaureate ceremony, please visit our Commencement website.

Categories: Alumni, Campus Life