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Widener Awards Diplomas to More Than 700 at Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony


Jacie Shuman, who was selected to address the Widener University Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 20 as the President’s Award recipient, reminded the class of 2017 not to give up on their dream goals.

Shuman explained that things may not go as planned, but urged students not to get too comfortable or settle for something that makes them unhappy. “Someday everything will make perfect sense.”

“You will find a way to make it to that goal,” she said. “It’ll be a mess of a path, the craziest journey you will ever take, but with hard work and the ability to put your neck out, you will make it. You’re going to make it because that is what these past four years have trained you to do. Being a college student has shown you how to move with the punches and solve your problems.”

Shuman, who graduated with bachelor’s degrees in biology, joined more than 700 of her classmates who received associate’s and bachelor’s degree from seven Widener schools and colleges.

Following commencement, Shuman will attend University of North Carolina Wilmington for their MSc program in the department of Biology and Marine Biology. 

The commencement address was delivered by Steve Gillon, scholar-in-residence at The History Channel and professor of history at the University of Oklahoma. Gillon, who received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, spoke on the importance of self-discovery, encouraging the class of 2017 to take risks during this decade of their lives and to step out of their comfort zone and not fear failure. “Use your 20s to try new things realizing that you might fail, but then learn from those failures and move on.” group

An alumnus of the class of 1978, Gillon wanted to be a baseball player. It wasn’t until he took a medieval history class at Widener that he realized the potential to do something greater, and to that “I owe a great debt to this university, and its caring and generous faculty, for accepting me when I was lost, and then providing the personal attention that allowed me to grow into a promising student.”

Gillon has written numerous books and articles about modern American politics and culture. In addition to his scholarly work, Gillon hosts shows and serves as an on-air consultant for The History Channel. From 1998-2006, he anchored the network’s Sunday morning current events program, HistoryCENTER. He has also hosted Our Generation, Movies in Time, and History v. Hollywood.

Widener President Dr. Julie E. Wollman also addressed the class of 2017, reflecting on their leadership skills, internship experiences and research projects. “Among your ranks are some of the most talented students I have ever had the pleasure to know.”

“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,” Wollman said. “I know you will put these tools to work in ways that will continue to make us all exceptionally proud!”

Like Shuman, Wollman encouraged the class of 2017 to continue to work towards their goals. “Be ambitious, keep your aspirations alive, and keep working toward them. The world needs leaders with the knowledge, strengths, and compassion you honed here at Widener.”

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 eight 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,