In likely the smallest commencement in the University’s long history, three students graduated May 9—the day before Jefferson’s main undergraduate ceremony at the Mann Center.
The reason? The trio will be competing Friday and Saturday in the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta as members of the women’s rowing team.
“The day the commencement date was announced, I knew I would be racing at the Regatta,” says fashion design student Emma Erato, who began rowing her senior year. “Everyone expected me to be upset or disappointed. The thing was, I couldn’t see myself doing anything besides racing the day of my graduation. I fell in love with the sport, and my team became an extended family.”
Pre-medical studies students Sarah Doelp and Martina Saad joined Erato in the intimate ceremony in front of family, friends, crewmates and University leadership at the Crescent Boat Club on Kelly Drive.
“Rowing has been my entire life for the four years that I’ve been here,” Saad says. “Being on this team means so much to me. I wouldn’t give up this Regatta for anything.”
This marks the third time Jefferson has hosted a special commencement ceremony for the rowers due to the Dad Vail Regatta—eight members of the men’s and women’s teams in 2013 and five women in 2016.
The Rams come into the Regatta ranked first in the East Region as a team and for their varsity eight and ranked second for their varsity four. Dad Vail will be the final event for Jefferson before a possible bid to the NCAA Championships on May 31-June 2 in Indianapolis. The NCAA selections will be announced May 20.
“As student-athletes, these young women pride themselves on excellence, both in the classroom and on the water,” says Christopher O’Brien, head coach of the team. “The student in them wants to be a part of graduation. The athlete in them welcomes the opportunity to make the NCAA Championships. I’m grateful that the University helped them achieve both.”