EAST RUTHERFORD — There may have been pouring rain outside, but the future looked bright inside the Izod Center Tuesday morning at the Meadowlands as years of hard work paid off for 3,100 Fairleigh Dickinson University students who finally donned their caps and gowns and made the transition to college graduates.
“It’s a rite of transition and rites of transition are so rare because a rite of transition is when one moment you view yourself one way and the next moment you have changed,” said FDU President J. Michael Adams. “When students walk across the stage, and move that tassel, they are different people and they view the world differently.”
In his remarks, Adams set the tone of the ceremonies telling students, “you have inherited a complex world, one that is rapidly changing and growing more interconnected. To succeed today, you must be aware of global issues.”
The Class of 2011 was represented by 47 countries, 28 states, and all 21 counties in New Jersey who earned doctoral, masters, bachelors and associate degrees. The ceremony was an integrated affair, bringing together graduates from the school's university's College at Florham (Madison), Metropolitan (Teaneck), and Vancouver, Canada, campuses.
The school bestowed one of three Pinnacle Awards—its highest honor for graduate students—Beatrice Markiewicz, attended classes at the Florham campus. Markiewicz received her bachelors of science in chemistry. Pinnacle recipients must demonstrate academic excellence, public service and commitment to the university to be honored.
When asked if the road to her award was a difficult one she didn't hesitate to say, "Yes!" Regardless of major area of study, “It takes a lot of dedication and consistency to achieve something,” Markiewicz said. “You definitely have to stay with what you do. I was in the honors program also and it took a lot of my time.”
The school awarded an honorary degree in Humane Letters to New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
“Right now I see another great generation developing,” Lautenberg said via a pre-recorded video message. “The future of America looks very good. The leadership we have now in our presidency suggests that we are rebuilding. I say step forward with confidence and know that there is opportunity out there, and that it’s up to you to maximize that opportunity with your education.”
One student who was already apparently listening to that advice was Blaire Darby Lorenz, who graduated summa cum laude in the University Honors Program.
“If you really have a passion coming into college, you can achieve it as long as you put your mind to it," Lorenz said.
Lorenz, who attended the Florham Park campus, earned her bachelors degree in science with a major in biology. She said she enrolled in the dentistry program at the University of Maryland for the fall.
Mateleine Morales, who also attended classes in Florham Park and received her bachelors in accounting, said that she hopes to complete the CPA exam in the next year and then go on to her masters as part of her bachelors/masters combined program.
Interestingly, Morales chose Florham Park over the Metropolitan campus in Teaneck, despite living next door in Bergenfield. “I went to Madison to get the complete experience— living in a dorm and away from home and all that,” she said.