Montclair State University graduating seniors were able to attend commencement ceremonies on Sprague Field beginning July 18.
The commencement ceremony is traditionally held in May at the Prudential Center, but it was delayed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Governor Phil Murphy announced that beginning July 6, schools would be allowed to hold outdoor graduations with social distancing measures and a maximum of 500 people in attendance. This meant that Montclair State had to split commencement into multiple days and times for the various colleges within the university.
Other precautions included chairs being six feet apart, requirement of face masks and a limit of two guests per graduate. Graduates were still allowed to walk across the stage as their names were read, but no handshakes were allowed.
Each ceremony began with a welcome address from President Susan Cole. She congratulated the graduates on completing their degrees while facing the challenges caused by the pandemic.
“We have marveled at your tenacity and resilience in the face of adversity, and we are proud of all that you have accomplished during your time at Montclair State, including this last semester when you did not let the pandemic keep you from achieving your goal,” Cole said at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences commencement ceremony on July 20 at 7:30 p.m.
The dean of each college also acknowledged the achievements of the graduates. Dean Peter Kingstone delivered the address for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
“To get to this day, you needed persistence, hard work, talent, creativity [and] resilience,” Kingstone said. “These are vital qualities that will help carry you throughout your life.”
Many graduates were impressed with the graduation ceremony including Adam Adrignolo, who received a Bachelor of Science in political science, and attended the ceremony on July 20 at 7:30 p.m..
“I thought the graduation was handled very well considering the many difficult factors facing us during these difficult times,” Adrignolo said.
Sam Al Safarjalani, who received a Bachelor of Science in data science, and attended the ceremony on July 20 at 12:30 p.m., enjoyed the ceremony but thought the university could be more accommodating for students who work.
“One thing my friends and I talked about, which is quite impossible to do we think, is having graduations and having the students sign up for the ones that work out for them because some of us such as myself have full-time jobs by this point and had to take off or miss their ceremony [and] it also would be nice and more meaningful to graduate with your friends,” Al Safarjalani said. “Overall, I was very happy [and] emotional because this big chapter of my life came to an abrupt end, but [Montclair State] provided us with somewhat of a closure.”
Branda Tran, who received a Bachelor of Science in business administration, attended the ceremony on July 18 at 4 p.m. She believes that Montclair State handled the graduation well, but expected the names of each graduate to be read in alphabetical order.
“I felt like [Montclair State] did a great job holding the graduation and they made sure social distancing was applied,” Tran said. “I didn’t expect them to call out graduates in random order. I felt like if applicable, they could have done it that way so that people who watched the livestream knew when to wait for their child [and] loved one to be called. But, overall, I thought it was well done and deserving.”
Danielle Manzetti, who received a Bachelor of Arts in English and attended the ceremony on July 21 at 7:30 p.m., was pleased with Montclair State’s commitment to honoring the graduates, but wished she could have celebrated with her entire graduating class.
“I was so grateful that when everything happened Montclair [State] promised that all the graduates would get the celebration that we deserved, and that’s exactly what happened,” Manzetti said. “The graduation itself was great, however, it would have been nice to graduate with the entire 2020 class. Overall I think it was [a] perfect way to end my undergraduate years at [Montclair State].”
Despite the changes to the ceremony due to the pandemic, the graduates were grateful to finally celebrate their achievements.