With smiles ear to ear, undergraduates walked, jumped and danced across the stage at Jefferson’s 195th Commencement. Hailing from 47 programs, over 750 students—from coast to coast and around the world—received their degrees at the joyous May 10 ceremony.
Jefferson President Dr. Stephen K. Klasko welcomed the students “who will be leaving as colleagues” and stressed to not get hung up on the inevitable stumbles in life, but rather, learn from mistakes and move on. “I believe you can do the impossible,” he says.
Following, Dr. Mark L. Tykocinski, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, reflected on the special timing of the ceremony at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts.
“You were here during a truly historic phase of this 200-year-old institution,” says Dr. Tykocinski, the Anthony F. and Gertrude M. DePalma Dean of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College. “You witnessed firsthand the out-of-the-box union of a health sciences university with one known worldwide for textile, fashion, design and architecture. A merger that called for breaking new ground and breaking down old conceptual boundaries.”
Student body president Vanessa Fath, who recently showed her work at New York Fashion Week, also noted the special significance of being one of the many faces of the unprecedented combination of Thomas Jefferson University and Philadelphia University.
“We’re graduating stronger and more successful than we imagined,” the fashion design student told the class of 2019 and their cheering friends and family. “As a result of this growth, we’re redefining what it means to be Jefferson alumni. As we enter our industries, we will be the ones using our undergraduate foundation to change the standards.”
In receiving the honorary doctor of science degree, human-centered inclusive design strategist Elise Roy described the importance of embracing the differences in ourselves and others. Roy, deaf from age 10, implemented design thinking early in life, needing to adapt her environment and its tools to her serve extraordinary abilities.
She established Elise Roy and Associates in 2016 to help companies analyze problems and create solutions from the vantage point of people with disabilities.
“Exposing yourself to difference and deviating from the traditional path makes you versatile,” Roy says. “Adaptability is going to be one of the most valuable skills for the next generation. Why? Our world is changing at an unprecedented pace, and you must be able to accommodate that change.”
Closing the ceremony, alumna Wendy Santana ’83 urged the newly minted alumni to be disruptive and wake up every morning with the question, “How can I do it differently today?”
“Don’t worry how long the path is from today to your ultimate goal,” says the executive vice president of sales for Li and Fung. “No one knows the twists and turns it will take. Just know you will end up where you are meant to be.”