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      Commencement at Widener

      Widener Awards Diplomas to More Than 1100 This Weekend


      Students celebrate commencement at Widener.

      Excitement filled each of Widener University’s campuses this weekend, as more than a thousand members of the class of 2017 graduated and started their journey as alumni of Widener. 

      Commencement ceremonies were held on Widener's Main Campus on Friday and Saturday for graduate and undergraduate students, respectively. Delaware Law also celebrated commencement on Saturday, and Commonwealth Law’s ceremony was held on Sunday.

      Widener University President Dr. Julie E. Wollman reminded the class of 2017 how much they have done during their time at Widener. “You used your education and leadership skills to address some of the world’s most vexing problems,” she said. “The world needs leaders with the knowledge, strength, and compassion you honed here at Widener.”

      Commencement speakers at each of the ceremonies shared words of wisdom based on personal experiences, reminding the class of 2017 to keep pursuing their goals.

      On Friday, the graduate commencement address was delivered by Dr. Kimberlyn Leary, an associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and an associate professor of health policy and management at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

      According to Leary, graduate school is “the place where you begin to gradually discover what it means to have an impact, by diving deep, and by gradually experiencing yourself as professional. The most important dimension of being a professional is that others know that they can count on you.”

      Leary explained that you cannot always plan certain trajectories, and offered four tips on how to capitalize on opportunities: “Protect your relationships. Expand the circle of those from whom you learn. Accept the mantle of leadership. And manage your time, prioritizing the things you love.”

      Graduate Student Speaker Alarico Barabino, who graduated with his doctorate in clinical psychology and a master’s degree in business administration, discussed the importance of making connections. “If we are willing and committed to making a connection, there will be a way – a way to go beyond a superficial connection to one that is emotional and purposeful,” he said. “The best gift we can give to another is to listen and make that person feel valued; even when what we hear is at first difficult to fathom or understand.”

      An alumnus of the class of 1978 and scholar-in-residence at The History Channel, Steve Gillon delivered the undergraduate commencement address, encouraging the class of 2017 to take risks during this decade of their lives and to step out of their comfort zones 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.” 

      Gillon, who received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, spoke on the importance of self-discovery. He originally wanted to be a baseball player. It was not until he took a medieval history class at Widener that he realized the potential to do something greater, and to that, he said, “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.”

      Jacie Shuman, the President’s Award recipient, told the class of 2017 not to give up on their dream goals. The biology graduate explained that things may not go as planned, but urged students not to get too comfortable or settle for something that makes them unhappy.

       “You will find a way to make it to your 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.”

      Videos of both the graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies were created by Communications Studies student Andrew Proctor ’19. They are excellent examples of experiential learning at work at Widener.

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