The celebration of the SJC Brooklyn Class of 2020 continues.
St. Joseph’s College held a virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday for the more than 300 graduates, and their families, following months of uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ceremony featured individualized slides for the graduates, highlighting their accomplishments — including special moments in academics, clubs, athletics and community service.
Valedictorian Amarfi Collado said she is honored to lead such an accomplished and hardworking class.
“I am proud to represent a class of scholars and leaders,” she said. “A class of people who raised money for homeless shelters … who created inspiring artwork, performed wonderful plays, and created amazing dance shows.
“I am also proud to be part of a class of people who sat at Evodio’s reading a book and others sat laughing with friends in the Red Room … Every one of you makes up the special class of 2020.”
Watch the full commencement ceremony here:
The College postponed the traditional commencement ceremony in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ongoing threat of the pandemic continues to stand in the way of an in-person ceremony, so SJC honored its Class of 2020 virtually, for now. This year’s graduates may still take part in an in-person SJC commencement ceremony during the next three years. This includes the commencement for the Class of 2021, provided the College can safely hold a ceremony this spring.
SJC President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D., said postponing the commencement ceremony was a difficult decision, and that he hopes to see the Class of 2020 during a future ceremony.
“Today, we are here to celebrate the achievement of our undergraduate and graduate students,” said Dr. Boomgaarden, addressing the Class of 2020 during the virtual presentation. “Not only have you graduated from St. Joseph’s College, which is itself an accomplishment, you have done it during one of the most difficult times in our nation’s history. You deserve special credit for this, and the College is incredibly proud of you.”
Executive Dean Phillip Dehne, Ph.D., also commended the Class of 2020 on the graduate’s strength and perseverance.
“I would like to take the opportunity to express my congratulations to the Class of 2020,” Dr. Dehne said. “Your skillful mastery of learning new pathways in fostering academic engagement speaks to your character, intellect and resilience. The College community applauds your tenacity and commitment and recognizes your families and friends for providing the support, unconditional love and mentoring during such a difficult time.”
Class of 2020 Graduates Persevere
Graduating seniors shared messages of hope and positivity on their individualized slides during the ceremony.
“Never doubting my abilities and believing in myself allowed me to excel in nursing school,” wrote Katelynn Ann Doyle, a nursing graduate. “Now I turned my passion into a career.”
Duvan F. Velasco Alegria, a criminal justice graduate, added to that sentiment.
“As we (embark) on our journey, one must remain positive,” he wrote. “Even if the world starts to crumble around you, we have to keep going.”
Priscila Marmolejos, an accounting graduate, shared a famous Benjamin Franklin quote on her slide.
“‘An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest,'” she wrote. “I have accomplished another milestone in my life. It was a difficult journey, but I made it.”
Collado, who recently wrapped up her first semester at New York University, — where she is pursuing her master’s degree in counseling for mental health and wellness, focusing on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community — shared the most significant thing she learned since the pandemic hit New York City in March: “Life is not about what happens to you, but how you react to it.”
Collado said the perseverance of the Class of 2020 to graduate and move to the next chapter of their lives is reason to celebrate.
“We are a class of resilient individuals,” she said. “We are the class that will show people how to move forward.”