Marywood celebrates 103rd commencement on campus


Photo credit/ Thomas Kerrigan

Students wait to receive their diplomas at the first of four commencement ceremonies.

Emma Rushworth

Students from 10 different countries and 30 different states graduated at Marywood’s 103rd commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 15. But this year, the 2021 graduation ceremony looked significantly different than previous years. 


Normally, graduates from all four colleges congregate at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre to end their time at Marywood. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, Marywood adapted its commencement ceremony.


This year, each college had its own ceremony on campus, the first commencement on campus in 15 years.  The College of Health and Human Services ceremony was split in half, with undergraduates receiving their diplomas at the 9 a.m. ceremony and graduates crossing the stage at the 1 p.m. ceremony. Both of those ceremonies were held in the McGowan Center parking lot under a temporary white tent.


The College of Arts and Sciences commencement ceremony was held at 11 a.m. in the campus green in front of the Insalaco Center for the Arts. The final ceremony at 3 p.m. was held at the same location for the College of Professional Studies. A similar temporary white tent was constructed to accommodate for the ceremonies on the campus green. 


Protocols for the ceremonies included mandatory mask wearing and social distancing within the seating arrangements. Each student was permitted to bring two guests. There was also no traditional student procession to avoid extraneous movement and interaction. 


“I thought it was very effective, generally it went over well. It was quick and only included what it had to, but it was a good time overall,” said graduate Richard Andrus. Andrus received his diploma, a bachelor of arts in multimedia communication, during the second ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences.


The liturgy was completely virtual on Friday, May 14, and there was no hooding ceremony like in previous years. A prerecorded video of The Most Reverend Joseph Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., led the invocation at each ceremony. 


Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM, led the greetings at each ceremony. 


“The class of 2021 will not be defined by what was lost to the virus but how you steadfastly responded to it,” said Maroney. 


The honorary speaker at this year’s ceremony was Stephen Karam, a Tony award winning playwright who is a native of Scranton. Karam emphasized making time for the things you love, stepping outside of yourself, and facing your fears as paths in life to take. 


“If your narrative doesn’t unfold neatly, that’s not an ominous sign; that’s not even failure, that’s life,” said Karam. 


Sister Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D, president of the university, spoke at each ceremony about the impact today’s young people will have on the world. Persico named famous youth activists such as Malala Yousafzi, David Hogg, Greta Thunberg, and tennis star Naomi Osaka.


Quoting young poet Amanda Gorman, Persico left the graduates with this message: “For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it; if only we are brave enough to be it.” 


Persico also acknowledged the staff and faculty who would have earned their years of service awards in a ceremony that has been pushed back to the fall due to the pandemic. Two board members, Mary Ann Conaboy Abrahamsen and Mary Ellen McDonough, are retiring and were also recognized during the ceremony.


During the ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences, an honorary induction into the Alumni Association was presented to the family of Robert Falletta. Falletta was a non-traditional student pursuing a bachelor in fine arts degree. He passed away in November of 2020 in a car accident. Falletta’s family accepted the posthumous induction on his behalf.


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