Commencement is always one of the most memorable days within the Ursinus community for graduates, students, families, professors and alumni. Each year, over 1,000 people attend the ceremony on the beautiful Berman lawn under the large white tent to celebrate the graduating class and welcome them into a broader spectrum of adulthood. The 146th graduating class of Ursinus College, comprised of roughly 320 students, was greeted by a gorgeous day and immense love and pride. The ceremony began at 9:30 a.m. with the traditional air-piercing bagpipes leading a procession across campus, through the middle aisle of the white tent and into their seats. This year, the Class of 2019 were intermingled, now seated by last name only, rather than by last name and type of degree.
In conjunction to the newer tradition of intermingling the arts and sciences degree recipients, this year’s ceremony was slightly out of the norm for those of us who have been to multiple Ursinus graduations. Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Mark Schneider presided over graduation this year in the absence of President Brock Blomberg, who was away at his own daughter’s graduation. However, nothing about the structure of graduation changed. The Class of 2019 was graciously given the opportunity to hear from both Dr. Aidsand F. Wright-Riggins, Mayor of Collegeville and notably ordained American Baptist minister at Baccalaureate and Grammy Award-winning folk musician Rhiannon Giddens at Commencement. Both speakers received honorary doctorate degrees from Ursinus alongside alumna and former trustee Nancy Conger, who was not in attendance due to a battle with cancer. Degrees were then conferred, including to the first group of students graduating with an official education studies major. Other notable moments included the class-nominated speaker Katarina Gereda’s moving speech about what made Ursinus special to her and the brilliance of the community surrounding her that helped her grow in academia and life as well as the powerful benediction by Rev. Betty Wright-Wriggins, Spiritual Director and Adjunct Professor at Princeton University and First Lady of Collegeville.
At the end of Commencement, professors, students and alumni lined the traditional “gauntlet” as new graduates processed down the aisle and towards campus buildings for the last time. Hugs and high-fives showered the lawn as graduates recognized friends from past years and family that came in specially to see them at this momentous occasion. Tears were shed as friends said goodbye and graduates walked to their dorms to move the rest of their belongings out.
Congratulations to the 146th graduating class of Ursinus College—we have watched you grow from bright and inquisitive fist-years with a lot to offer to Ursinus into ready and capable new alumni with successful futures ahead. Welcome to the alumni network!
By: Emily Cooper ’15