The Feliciano School of Business’ graduating bachelor’s degree students cheered louder than the forecasted thunder as Montclair State University kicked off its convocation ceremonies at 1 p.m. on Sprague Field, Wednesday, June 1.
It was business as usual for the graduating business administration, economics and hospitality, sports, events and tourism majors, who were the first of their peers to seal the deal on their academic careers. The second ceremony scheduled for 7 p.m. that evening was postponed to June 6 following stormy weather forecasts.
Despite the cloudy conditions, dozens of family members, friends and other guests filed into the bleachers with flowers, balloons and other gifts in hand to celebrate the seniors. The university’s mascot, Rocky the Red Hawk, cheered on the students as they made their way to their seats in front of the stage.
Dressed in red and black caps and gowns, the graduates complimented the red rooftops and green scenery of the surrounding campus. Many wore special stoles that reflected their achievements in certain academic programs or other meaningful attributes, like their cultural backgrounds. Other graduation attire stood out with decorations made by the seniors themselves.
Montclair State’s convocations honor the university’s colleges and schools, with each dean presiding over their school or college’s ceremony. In this case, Kimberly Hollister, Dean of the Feliciano School of Business, took to the podium to praise the resilience of the class of 2022.
“You attended classes in person, suddenly [went] remote, from masking to testing to isolating and those are just the challenges from [coronavirus (COVID-19)],” Hollister said. “Yet through all of the uncertainty, you persevered and best of all, you’re graduating.”
Seated on the stage were members of the university’s leadership team, departmental representatives, student board of trustees, faculty, staff and student leaders, including university fellows and members of the Student Government Association (SGA). Among these was 2022 graduate Berline Delinois, who gave this year’s Feliciano School of Business senior address.
While thanking her mentors and peers, Delinois expressed her gratitude to the New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF). The campus-based program provides academic, financial and other means of support to educationally and economically disadvantaged students.
“As students, we can lack belief in ourselves,” Delinois said. “Programs such as [EOF] provide critical support to those things that we may lack.”
Delinois focused on the impact the program and the people she met through it had on her life.
“I learned that Montclair [State] is not only an educational place but ultimately an environment that creates an opportunity for programs that ultimately lead you to people,” Delinois said. “Those very individuals can guide you to a unique and special experience you will never forget.”
The Dean’s Awards for Outstanding Graduating Seniors were given to Jacob Lodge, Lawrence Badway, Komal Bains and Carla Ko for their contributions to the university and community. Students graduating with honors, high honors and highest honors were particularly acknowledged for their academic performance. These seniors had a grade point average of 3.7 or above.
Elizabeth Rosini, Associate Dean for Graduate and Continuing Education of the Feliciano School of Business, introduced the Distinguished Alumni Award to Helane Becker, a former Montclair State student who is now a managing director and senior research analyst. Becker offered words of advice to the graduating class.
“It’s really important, in my opinion, to put your family first,” Becker said. “Be present, 100% present, when you’re with them. Be in the moment because time, as your own families will tell you, is really fleeting.”
Becker particularly emphasized the importance of living in the moment.
“We should do twice as much listening and observing as we do talking,” Becker said. “If you just sit and listen to what someone is telling you and really be present, you’d be surprised what you learn. It’s okay to just listen.”
Becker also encouraged the graduates to pursue their dreams, even if that means going back to the drawing board.
“The only thing that’s rocket science is rocket science,” Becker said. “Everything else is a learned experience. I shifted my career to something I didn’t know and then learned it. So if I could do it, you guys, who are very smart, can certainly do it.”
After all awards and speeches were given, the class of 2022 finally made its way to the stage. Claps, shouts, whistles and air horns filled the air after each senior’s name was called, each noise emanating from a different direction in the crowd of guests. With newly acquired diplomas in hand, the seniors shook the hands of Hollister and Senior Associate Dean Ronald Strauss, marking the end of their academic careers. Before the ceremony concluded, Hollister put in her last two cents.
“Don’t forget to laugh,” Hollister said. “The world can be a cruel place, but that’s no excuse for not seeing the humor in our lives and the craziness in our realities. Spread laughter wisely, openly and generously, and use it to celebrate life and the joy of living.”