On the eve of commencement, last minute additions to commencement have left students more focused about what the ceremony means to them as they prepare to graduate from Montclair State University on May 25.
Up until the end of the semester, the speaker’s podium at the 2017 undergraduate commencement was still looking to be filled. The university originally wanted former Giants wide receiver and Paterson native Victor Cruz but a “miscommunication” left the spot vacant.
It appeared that for the first time in history, the commencement would not have a keynote speaker until the school announced in mid-May that Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka and tap dancer Savion Glover would serve as speakers at the ceremony.
For some students, however, having or not having a commencement speaker was not of the greatest concern to them.
“I’ve heard great keynote speakers, but just as many not so great ones,” said Angela Romano who will soon be earning her BA in Communication and Media Arts with a minor in musical theatre, said. “I don’t know why there are two [speakers] but it’s just part of the almost four hour ceremony. I probably wouldn’t have noticed there wasn’t a speaker [since] we have to hear a lot of other speeches anyway.”
Ben Bouffard, who is earning his BA in English with a minor in film studies, said he wasn’t too concerned about the speakers and not having one would’ve made commencement a lot more interesting.
“If it meant a quicker commencement I wouldn’t have minded at all,” Bouffard said. “But I suppose it would not have gone as well without one.”
“I’ve worked really hard these past few years earning my degree and I was extremely disappointed to learn about the lack of a commencement speaker until the recent announcement,” Maria Brucato said. Brucato is also part of the 2017 graduating class and will earn her BA in psychology with two minors in computer science and cognitive science. She expressed her hopes that the commencement ceremony is special and memorable and not as disorganized as the winter graduation seemed to be.
The 2017 winter commencement featured a lot of changes to the usual graduation protocol. Instead of holding convocation ceremonies on the Montclair State campus with graduates attending the ceremony for their respective schools, only one commencement would take place for graduates at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The change of venue was implemented due to the growing number of students in the graduating classes making it harder to hold these large events on campus to accommodate everyone. Also, there were complaints that people left during the ceremony after receiving their diplomas which made it appear very disorganized to those in attendance.
“I wish we had both,” Romano said concerning holding both a commencement and convocation for graduates. “It’s nice to have a ceremony at the school you spent the last four years at and it’s more personal. I know my family would appreciate that.”
Romano also said that since the time between finals and the commencement is over a two week period, holding the convocations during this time frame was a great way to break up the wait for commencement.
However, no matter what the structure of ceremonies is, graduating for these students is a big moment and symbolizes an immense stepping stone in their lives.
“It’s more jarring than exciting,” Bouffard said about graduating from college on Thursday. “The notion of never setting foot in a classroom and having your intellectual worth defined by numbers and letters is wonderful, but it’s also a bit scary since all I have really known is life during school.”
The graduation ceremony is going to be a special moment not only for the graduates but the family and friends as well. For Romano, her graduating from Montclair State is very important to her family.
“My parents didn’t go to college and my special needs brother won’t pursue that kind of education so I know this is a big deal for them,” Romano said. “I’m excited to be done with school and start a new chapter.”
The undergraduates commencement ceremony for the class of 2017 will be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 25 at the Prudential Center. Romano said that since the name of each student in the class of 2017 will be read, they’ve been warned ahead of time that the ceremony will run about three hours. She is taking the necessary precautions to prepare for the long ceremony. “I’m bringing a snack and a fully charged phone,” Romano said.