Graduation ceremonies can feel like the end of an era. It was the culmination of effort and determination that guided the graduates through their classes and late nights, class discussions, and final projects.
But “beginning” is literally the beginning.
Four launch ceremonies for Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) in Manchester, New Hampshire took place over the weekend. On Saturday, April 30, campus students took to the road to SNHU Arena to take the stage in the morning while many online graduate students met their classmates, faculty and support staff for the first face to face that afternoon. Online undergraduates donned their graduation badges on Sunday, May 1 for two ceremonies encompassing all online associate degree and bachelor’s degree programs.
“We are delighted to be back in this arena after a two-year absence,” said Dr. Paul LeBlanc, president of the SNHU. “The last time we got to do a Spring Start was in 2019, and we missed our graduates, we missed that day. It’s the best weekend of the year for all of us. C t is a celebration of your incredible achievement.. We have some amazing people here.
In a few weeks, a fifth ceremony will take place in the form of a virtual reality experience for all those who have not made it to their ceremony in person.
Join the Global Alumni Community
SNHU graduates this spring represent a far-reaching global community. Each US state was taken into account as well as:
- European Armed Forces
- Pacific Armed Forces
- Marshall Islands
- Porto Rico
- Virgin Islands (St. Thomas and Kingshill)
- washington d.c.
There were also graduates from 46 countries around the world.
More than 15,000 SNHU graduates are entering the next chapter of their lives with a degree in hand this spring – more than 11,300 with an undergraduate degree and nearly 3,900 with a graduate degree.
These graduates joined the growing alumni network of more than 185,000 people worldwide.
sergeant. Derek Cataldo ’22, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and member of local law enforcement, was among nearly 4,000 graduates who attended the weekend festivities. Having completed his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, he spoke about the universal importance of education in his student lecture address. “(Our degrees) represent a goal that people around the world work towards every day,” he said.
The class of 2022 has faced many challenges in their pursuit of a college education, one of the biggest being the COVID-19 pandemic. Riley Sood ’22an international student on campus who graduated with a bachelor of science in business administration with a concentration in marketing, congratulated her peers for not only graduating, but for doing so after the pandemic disrupted their college experience.
“We have shown that no obstacle is too high and through that obstacle we have come together and persevered to achieve the unimaginable,” she said in her opening speech. “From adapting to new environments to navigating the unexpected, we’ve proven we can do it all. We showed remarkable resilience, and this promotion will go down in history.
Spotlight on healthcare professionals
Not only have graduates dedicated themselves to their studies during these uncertain times, but some have also served on the frontlines of the pandemic. Others have been inspired to advance their education so that they too can work in a health profession.
Of the graduates this spring, more than 400 earned their nursing degrees and nearly 1,100 others earned their health care degrees online.
Vanessa Vidal-Ramharrack ’22G is one of them. Inspired to return to school on New Year’s Day 2020, she completed her Masters of Science in Health Care Administration despite her long hours booked by hour-long commutes. “As a first-generation immigrant and college graduate, my experiences and academic successes at SNHU have allowed me to reinvent myself,” she says. “With new knowledge and improved skills, I have an increased desire to lead. This experience has taught me to make full use of all the tools available and rely on the right support to achieve my goals.
As her classes progressed, Vidal-Ramharrack realized how strong and resourceful she was and acknowledged the support she received from others to reach this culminating moment. “Embrace every emotion you are feeling right now,” she said. “This moment will never happen again. Take a moment to thank your support system. They have been on this journey with you and will continue to persevere as you continue in your education and career.”
Assistant instructor Dr William Cundiff was one of Commencement’s many supporters. One of his former students, Janet Johnson ’22Ginvited him to sit with his family as she walked across the stage with a master’s degree.
A Distinguished Scholar Award recipient, Johnson managed to achieve a 4.0 grade point average while working at a small hospital. Most recently, she transitioned to a position at an NCI-designated center in California. Johnson also had a baby while preparing for her degree and found time to lead the American College of Healthcare Executives, one of SNHU’s many extracurricular organizations.
“It’s very exciting to say that I have my Masters of Science in Health Care Administration,” Johnson said. “…It’s so rewarding, and I’m honored to graduate from SNHU.”
As she celebrates her achievement, she hopes her two young daughters realize they can achieve anything they want.
Supported through graduation and beyond
From friends and family to faculty members and advisors, a tremendous number of people have supported these graduates throughout their academic journey. Many were seen cheering them on at SNHU Arena over the weekend.
DeMeeta Hulett ’22, a first-generation college graduate with a perfect GPA, acknowledged everyone who rallied around her as she completed her 42-year dream: a Bachelor of Science degree in operations management. “Despite COVID-19 affecting us all directly, including the loss of our loved ones, it is thanks to the grace and support of my family, my friends, my outstanding academic advisor, Rebecca James, and the faculty at Southern New Hampshire University who provided high winds for my sail,” Hulett said. “I stop to say thank you.”
A record number of nominations were made for this year’s Council Excellence Awards. Around 13,000 letters were sent in by students – many of them containing stories of how their advisor helped them achieve their goals.
The winners were:
- Evan Bodi
- Alison Ganon
- Jennifer Langley
- Jackie Trexler
Among those supported were more than 1,600 graduates with a military affiliation. SNHU staff and faculty understand the demands of military life and work closely with this population so that they too can achieve their dreams of a college degree, whether deployed or supporting a loved one. enlisted. Shaquita Callier’22mother of four and recipient of a 2020 Military Spouse Scholarship, drove from North Carolina to New Hampshire with her family to celebrate her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in Child Development and the teenager.
After submitting the final assignment for her bachelor’s degree program, she said, “Honestly, it’s a feeling that’s impossible to explain in words.”
Although each of these students has graduated, that does not mean their journey with SNHU is over. Some then obtain a second or even a third degree. In fact, over the past 20 years, 8.6% of graduates have earned multiple degrees from SNHU. Graduates also have the opportunity to stay connected with the university as members of the alumni community and can avail of career counseling services whenever needed.
Virtual reality launch experience
Kickoff weekend is a highly anticipated event for the entire SNHU community – often referred to as college’s Super Bowl weekend. While all four in-person ceremonies can take place, the celebration is not over.
On May 14, nearly 4,000 additional graduates will participate in SNHU’s inaugural 360-degree virtual reality ceremony. These registered graduates and their loved ones will have the chance to experience the energy of the ceremonies in person from their homes. They’ll hear their name read aloud and displayed on the stage’s big screen as they enjoy the rest of the SNHU Arena – from the packed stage to the seated graduates to the cheering crowd.
As graduates begin the next chapter of their lives with a degree in hand, Sood said, “I urge you all to keep taking risks and never underestimate yourselves. Start each day with an open mind and a willingness to learn. We have the power to decide who we want to be, so soak it all up and you could change the world one day.
In line. On the campus. Choose your program from over 200 SNHU degrees that can take you where you want to go.
Rebecca LeBoeuf ’18 is a writer at Southern New Hampshire University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.