Oh Happy Day

Rutgers University–Camden classes of 2020 and 2021 honored in graduation celebration

Nov. 11, 2021

By Sam Starnes

Rutgers University–Camden graduates enjoyed a festive Wednesday evening marked by enthusiastic rounds of applause, bouquets of flowers and heartfelt cheers from friends and family members at the first in-person celebration held to commemorate degrees earned in 2020 and 2021.

“For the classes of 2020 and 2021, I have very high hopes,” Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway told the graduates before they were honored on the stage of the BB&T Pavilion. “You have been tested by hardship and you have shown compassion for those who have suffered the most. I wish you great success and fulfillment as you continue in the next phase of your lives and careers. I’m so very happy that you returned to mark this important milestone and to share this moment.”

Holloway, who was inaugurated last week as Rutgers’ 21st president in its 255-year history, echoed the theme of his inauguration ceremony in his address to students. “You are what excellence looks like, and we couldn’t be more proud to call you Rutgers graduates.”

Rutgers–Camden officially conferred degrees for graduates in virtual commencement ceremonies held in May 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.

“While the world struggled with the pandemic, while our families confronted unprecedented challenges, you did it all, all of it, and completed your Rutgers–Camden degrees,” Rutgers University–Camden Chancellor Antonio D. Tillis told the graduates. “In the very best of circumstances, achieving a Rutgers degree requires tremendous focus and grit. You did so in conditions that no one would choose and still emerged triumphant.”

The celebration drew a crowd of about 3,000 and honored more than 500 undergraduate and graduate degree recipients in attendance from the Camden College of Arts and Sciences, University College–Camden, The Graduate School–Camden, Rutgers School of Business–Camden and Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden.

Monica Adya, dean of the School of Business, asked graduates to remember their first days at Rutgers–Camden, before the pandemic. “Little did we know then how different the world would be on this date,” Adya said. “But here you are, at the end of that journey with a bright future ahead. We are proud of how you managed learning and work, dealt with personal and professional challenges, supported families and navigated uncertainties through a very unusual time.”

After the ceremony, the excitement of graduates hugging and posing with friends and family members in the lobby and the street was palpable. Tahmina Putul, who finished her coursework for her Bachelor of Science in biology in 2020, clutched two big bouquets of flowers and posed for numerous photos with friends and family. “After almost two years, to come back and walk on the stage, it was amazing,” Putul said.

For photos of the celebration, view the slideshow below.

Learn more about commencement ceremonies at Rutgers University–Camden.

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