Their moment to shine: The Class of 2018 graduates

By Kenna Caprio

May 15, 2018 — Caps and gowns shone brightly, as 2,991 graduates marched confidently across the stage and into their futures. Fairleigh Dickinson University’s 75th Commencement ceremony was held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

“The last four years have been leading up to this one day and I’m just really excited,” said Margaly Monelus. She attended the Florham Campus and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology. “I don’t think the Margaly from before FDU would have been able to change her major halfway through her college career or take on leadership positions at orientation.”

procession of graduates
Graduates line up at Commencement 2018, held in MetLife Stadium. (Photo by: Justin Solleder)

Alumna Marta Tellado, BA'81 (Flor), the president and CEO of Consumer Reports and a University trustee, delivered the commencement address, urging kindness and action. She also received a Presidential Citation.

“The power of choices is something I spend a lot of time thinking about. The choices we make as individuals — no matter how large or small — can have an impact, not only on our lives, but also on the world,” she said. “You are the first generation for whom nothing will be out of reach, no matter who you are, what you look like or where your family comes from. Engage by your choices and your voices. Lean into your kindness, your connections with one another and amplify the power of our common humanity.”

The power of positive connection was on full display as families, friends, alumni, faculty, staff and administrators cheered loudly and proudly for the graduates.

two new graduates

“The friendships I’ve made at FDU are ones that are so genuine, I know they’ll last a lifetime,” said Daniela Negron. She studied at the Metropolitan Campus and completed her Bachelor of Arts in humanities. “FDU gave me another family, one I never knew I needed, and for that I am forever grateful,” added Tim Black. He attended the Florham Campus and received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.

For Eric Munive, the day was all about his parents and the realization of their dream. “My parents came from Mexico to the United States to give me a better life. They both worked tirelessly to get me to where I am now. The most exciting moment of graduation was seeing the look of absolute happiness in their eyes,” he said. Munive went to the Metropolitan Campus and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice.

Two student speakers, this year’s Pinnacle Award recipients, Marialaina Nissenbaum and Sedona Hill, represented the Florham and Metropolitan campuses. The women received their degrees in psychology and business administration, respectively.

“In a world full of division, bigotry and fake news, FDU has been a place of diversity, acceptance and unity for students from every walk of life,” said Sedona Hill, as she addressed the crowd. “Never let anyone define what you know you are capable of. My fellow graduates, I wish you all the best.”

Peter Mate, the Vancouver Campus honoree who graduated with a BAIS, spoke previously at the Vancouver graduation ceremony held on May 2.

“Hold on to the memories from your FDU home and live our motto, ‘Fortiter et Suaviter,’ pleasantly in manner and powerfully in deed, in all you do. There’s just no telling how far you’ll go,” said Marialaina Nissenbaum in her speech. “Congratulations to the Class of 2018!”

a graduate celebrates

The Class of 2018 received a total of 3,038 degrees, with students hailing from 44 countries and 34 states plus Washington, DC, Guam and the Virgin Islands.

The ceremony also included an honorary degree presentation to Allan Goodman, president of the Institute of International Education. A moment of silence honored the contributions and life of the late Ann Petrocelli, a member of the Board of Trustees. The Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies is named for her husband, an alumnus, the late Anthony J. Petrocelli, BS‘69 (Metro). “Their spirit lives on in the work of everything we do,” noted FDU President Christopher Capuano.