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Widener Awards Diplomas to Over 500 at Graduate Commencement Ceremony

Sonalee Rashatwar, who was selected to address the Widener University Graduate Commencement Ceremony on Friday as the Graduate Student Leader, challenged the Class of 2016 to step outside of themselves, to imagine the value and richness of life.

Rashatwar, a resident of Voorhees, New Jersey, who graduated with both a Master of Social Work and a Master of Education in Human Sexuality, offered advice of an activist therapist: get better at trusting yourself and learn to be bold. Commit to helping others more.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said not everyone can be famous, but everyone can be great, because greatness is determined by service,” Rashatwar said. “We owe a debt, not just to the student loan gods, but also to the unlucky. We must find a way to serve. And sometimes the message isn't even about what you do for the world but how you view it.”

Rashatwar joined over 500 of her classmates who received master’s and doctoral degrees from seven Widener schools and colleges in the Bown Garden behind Old Main.grads

The commencement address was delivered by Marty Moss-Coane, host and executive producer of WHYY’s “Radio Times,” one of the most respected interview programs on regional radio. Moss-Coane is known as being a thought provoking and balanced radio host. Her work at WHYY reflects great dedication, as she started as a volunteer at the station and continued for more than 25 years as an associate producer, producer, executive producer and local and national host, in which she has received many accolades of excellence.

“What an honor to be a member of Widener University class of 2016,” Moss-Coane said. “I am not as well educated as you are and I clearly didn’t have to write the papers, take the exams and defend a thesis the way you did to get my diploma today.”

Moss-Coane shared with the graduating class that it is important to not only be proud of what you accomplish, but also to know who you are and what you inspire to be, as it takes courage, compassion, and a willingness to risk conflict and disappointment. “It’s important to know the difference between a strategy, what you have to do to accomplish something and an identity, the kind of person you are,” she said. “What you do flows from who you are. In fact once you know who you are, what you do becomes even clearer.”

Chair of the Widener University Board of Trustees Nicholas Trainer received an honorary degree of public service A 1964 graduate of Pennsylvania Military College (now Widener University) with a degree in chemistry, Trainer launched his career working in sales for Hercules, Inc., a chemical manufacturing company based in Wilmington, Del. He joined Sartomer Company, Inc. as a technical sales representative and worked his way up to president of the company. Under his leadership, Sartomer’s annual sales revenue grew from about $2 million in the late 1960s to more than $450 million when he retired in 2006.

In addition to being a Widener trustee, Trainer served on the School of Business Administration Advisory Council. For his service to the university, Trainer received the Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1985 and the Alumni Service Award in 1996.

The event also marked the first Graduate Commencement Ceremony for Widener President Julie E. Wollman who began her tenure in January. Wollman previously served as president of Edinboro University.

“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. Your Widener education gave you the tools to be a game changer not only in your profession, but in your community, across the country, and around the world. I know you will put these tools to work in ways that will continue to make us all exceptionally proud!”

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 is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del. are proud to be a tobacco-free. Visit the university website,