A Night for Graduates to Shine

Rutgers University–Camden 2020 and 2021 graduates express excitement for long awaited, in-person commencement ceremony Wednesday night

Comfort Martin Briscoe with the Rutgers–Camden Scarlet Raptor mascot.

Nov. 9, 2021

By Sam Starnes

Comfort Martin Briscoe — who lived through 14 years of civil war and an Ebola virus outbreak in her native Liberia before immigrating to the United States in 2014 — says it will be a great thrill when she crosses the stage at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden in recognition of her master of accounting degree. “I am very excited and in tears,” she says. “It is important for me to attend this ceremony because it is a very big milestone of my life.”

Briscoe is one of more than 600 graduates who are expected to participate in the commencement celebration that begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10.  Rutgers University–Camden officially conferred degrees for graduates in virtual commencement celebrations held in May of 2020 and 2021. Those ceremonies were conducted online out of concern for spreading COVID-19, but the university remained committed to holding in-person ceremonies when it was safe to do so.

“We have long awaited safely celebrating these two courageous graduating classes in person,” says Rutgers University–Camden Chancellor Antonio D. Tillis. “We cherish this opportunity to call the names of our graduates. COVID-19 posed a monumental and historic challenge, but our graduates persevered to finish their degrees with flying colors. We are tremendously proud of every single graduate.”

Briscoe, who previously earned an undergraduate degree and an M.B.A. in Liberia before immigrating to the United States, says she would not miss this opportunity to celebrate with fellow graduates, faculty and family, even though it comes six months after she earned her master’s degree in May from the Rutgers School of Business–Camden. “It is important that I attend and walk the stage,” she says, adding that eight family members, including her 6-year-old son Zion and her husband, Michael Briscoe, plan to attend. “I love that I will get the opportunity to celebrate this great accomplishment despite the many challenges I had.”

Briscoe, a resident of Delran, says her master’s degree landed her a position as senior audit and assurance assistant at Deloitte & Touche USA, LLP in Philadelphia. “At Rutgers–Camden, I received more than my education,” she says. “I learned how to network and work as a team member, and I also learned that understanding and embracing diversity gave me exposure to things not only in the classroom but the real world as well. Best of all, it was through a campus hiring program that I now have the dream job I always wanted.”

Danelle Angela Torio

Danelle Angela Torio, an honors graduate who earned bachelor’s degrees in childhood studies and psychology in 2020, says the delay did not dampen her enthusiasm to celebrate in person with her peers. “We worked so hard, we deserve to walk at graduation,” says Torio, who lives in Cherry Hill and is now working on a master’s degree in school psychology. “Because Rutgers–Camden is so close-knit, I’ve built a camaraderie with these people. It will be super cool to actually be with them in person versus online.”

Ryan Philip Brown

Ryan Philip Brown of Pennsauken, who graduated in May with a double major in finance and accounting, says his mother and aunt will attend. His father, who has been dealing with some health issues, will watch the live video stream of the ceremony. “I am more than thrilled to finally walk across that stage,” says Brown, who recently joined the audit team at Kreischer Miller in Horsham, Pennsylvania. “As a first-generation college graduate, I have been waiting for this moment my entire life to finally say I made it. It has been a rough year for my family, and celebrating a moment like this means everything.”

Chelsea Amoako-Duodu

Chelsea Amoako-Duodu of Williamstown, a Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden graduate, says she will have eight family members in attendance on Wednesday. “It is so important to me because I feel like it’s the final step to close this chapter of my life,” she says. “Not being able to walk on stage didn’t make me feel complete, especially after losing a year and a half of in-person school due to COVID-19. I want my family and friends to be able to celebrate with me the proper way and see me walk across the stage.”

Although the ceremony will close a chapter in her life, she says she will never forget her alma mater. “I absolutely loved my experience at Rutgers–Camden,” says Amoako-Duodu, who is working as a registered nurse at Inspira Medical Center in Mullica Hill, and one day hopes to earn a doctor of nursing practice degree. “I’m so sad that my experience got cut short due to the pandemic, but I will be glad for everything I gained while I was here. I came into Rutgers–Camden as a shy person and now I’m leaving with a sense of confidence in myself and my abilities.”

 

In preparation for the celebration at the BB&T Pavilion on Wednesday, attendees are asked to please note the venue’s COVID-19 testing or vaccination policies.

For more details, visit www.camden.rutgers.edu/commencement.

 

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