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Widener Awards Diplomas to 600+ Graduates at Commencement Ceremony

Widener 2018 Graduate Commencement

Widener celebrated 600+ students at the graduate commencement on May 18.

Chester, Pa. – In his graduate commencement address on Friday, May 18, Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, highlighted the importance of continuing to learn, a philosophy embraced by the American founders.

“The best thing about lifelong learning is that it’s the most satisfying thing you can do,” Rosen said. “Every day you learn something new is a day you rise higher toward enlightenment and fulfillment. It’s my honor to welcome you to the company of lifelong learners. The American founders expected no less.”

Rosen addressed 695 students who received master’s and doctoral degrees from seven Widener schools and colleges on Memorial Field.

As president and CEO, Rosen developed the center’s acclaimed Interactive Constitution, which brings together top conservative and liberal legal scholars to discuss areas of agreement and disagreement about every clause of the Constitution. Last November, he partnered with Widener to launch its Common Ground Initiative and moderated a successful panel discussion between President Julie E. Wollman and Delaware Law School Dean Rodney A. Smolla.

“President Wollman’s path-breaking Common Ground Initiative seeks to bring together students and citizens of different perspectives to learn from each other so you can take part in the respectful, reasoned discourse the framers thought was necessary for the success of the republic,” Rosen said.

Rosen received an honorary doctor of law degree to recognize his accomplishments and records of service, in addition to his efforts to exemplify the Widener mission.

The graduating class hailed from 16 states and 11 countries including Kazakhstan, St. Lucia, Morocco, Netherlands and United Arab Emirates. The oldest graduate is 66 years old and the youngest is 22 years old.

Christine Aiello, RN, was chosen to speak at commencement as the Graduate Student Leader. In her remarks, Aiello, a resident of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania who received a Master’s of Science in Nursing degree, shared a personal experience from which she drew three lessons that she learned during her time at Widener: leadership, tolerance and teamwork.

One January afternoon, Aiello and her husband were in their home when an elderly man collapsed outside while taking a stroll with his wife. Despite the frantic nature of the situation, Aiello recalled that thanks to the leadership, tolerance and teamwork of a group of nearby good Samaritans that responded, the man received timely and proper care.

“A group of diverse strangers came together to save the life of another stranger and to make a difference for that man and his family,” Aiello said. “I then wondered if we all utilized these concepts of leadership, tolerance, and teamwork more, then we too could promote positive change.”

Aiello used her experience to underscore the importance and adaptability of the lessons learned at Widener. She encouraged her classmates to take those lessons and others with them as they continue in their careers and lives.

Following her graduation, Christine will continue in her current role as a clinical practice leader in the surgical intensive care unit at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, but will add the MSN and CNS credentials to her professional status.

President Wollman congratulated the graduates on their tireless work and effort over the years. From their contributions to innovative research and their work in the various on-campus clinics, to their international experiences, Wollman praised them for their achievements and posed one final assignment.

“Challenge yourself,” Wollman said. “Ask the hard questions and continue showing the same grit and determination you’ve already demonstrated. There’s always more to do, more to learn, more to achieve.”

Wollman encouraged the graduates to be leaders in the community and for the next generation. 

“The world needs leaders with the knowledge, strengths, and compassion you honed here at Widener,” Wollman said. “Be ambitious, keep your aspirations alive, and keep working toward them.”


Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises seven schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Visit the university website,