JERSEY CITY, N.J., May 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- New Jersey City University (NJCU) will award 1,765 graduate and undergraduate degrees at its commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 15, and present an honorary doctorate to Irene Trowell-Harris '71, R.N., Ed.D., a retired U.S.A.F. N.C. Major General and former Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Women Veterans.
Degrees will be conferred at a commencement ceremony, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford. The ceremony may be viewed live at http://ustream.tv/channel/NJCU-Events.
Undergraduate and graduate degree candidates in NJCU's William J. Maxwell College of Arts and Sciences, Deborah Cannon Partridge Wolfe College of Education, and College of Professional Studies will participate in one commencement ceremony.
Undergraduate degrees will be conferred upon 1,306 students: 556 Bachelor of Arts degrees, 11 Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees, three Bachelor of Music degrees, 532 Bachelor of Science degrees, and 204 Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees.
Graduate degrees will be conferred upon 459 students. Graduates will receive 213 Master of Arts degrees, two masters of Fine Arts degrees, 108 Master of Arts in Teaching degrees, 22 Master of Business Administration degrees, nine Master of Music degrees, 94 Master of Science degrees, and 11 Professional Diplomas in School Psychology.
NJCU's largest graduating class ever will include such outstanding candidates as:
-- 18-year-old graduate Thanuja Ganeshlingam of Sri Lanka who began studies at NJCU as a 16-year-old and after three years of studies will graduate with a bachelor's in business administration with specialization in finance and international business. She was a peer mentor, a tutor in accounting and economics, and an active volunteer on campus and in the community. Ms. Ganeshlingam is interviewing for a position with a top financial firm in the area of wealth management. She will pursue graduate studies in finance after working for the next two years.
-- Yashmine Cooper, who is the latest in a four-generation string of graduates to earn degrees in education from NJCU. Ms. Cooper, a second grade teacher in the Orange Public Schools, will receive her second master's degree from NJCU, a master's in Urban Education—Administration and Supervision. In 2010, she earned an M.A. in Special Education. Ms. Cooper's aunt, Rhonda E. Wilson, the School Superintendent for the New Horizons Community Charter School District in Newark, herself holds two master's degrees in education from NJCU. Ms. Cooper's two great aunts, now deceased, Florence Steele Hunt and Carmen Washington earned bachelor's degrees at the University in 1954 and 1938 respectively. Ms. Hunt completed her teacher training in 1923 at the Jersey City Normal School which six years later became the New Jersey State Normal School at Jersey City, which evolved through the years to become NJCU. In 1997, Ms. Hunt was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from NJCU.
-- Jeremy Sullivan, who majored in political science with a minor in prelaw, will attend New York Law School in fall 2014. Mr. Sullivan is the recipient of the Public Service Scholarship which will award him half of his tuition.
Dr. Trowell-Harris will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree and then deliver remarks. Dr. Trowell-Harris, who triumphed over adversity on many fronts, became a national advocate for women, diversity, and equal opportunity in both the military and civilian life. Her vision and personal commitment to achievement and opportunity for all align absolutely with the mission and work of her alma mater, NJCU – then Jersey City State College, from which she graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in health education and school nursing.
Commencement Order of Exercises
Dr. Sue Henderson, NJCU president, will preside over the commencement ceremony. Rafael Perez, Esq., chair of the NJCU Board of Trustees, will convey greetings from the trustees.
Honored alumni from the Class of 1964 and prior classes will be recognized and presented medallions by President Henderson. A "Welcome from the Alumni" will then be given by John Lahoud '95, managing director of wealth management at Merrill Lynch, The Lahoud Sadaka Group and member of the Board of Directors of the NJCU Foundation, Inc.
Senior Class President Andrea Suarez of Jersey City will then deliver "Student Reflections" on behalf of the graduates.
Student Government President Maria Gomez of West New York will then introduce Carlos Lejnieks, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties, who will receive the Presidential Medallion for his extraordinary contribution to public service in our region and beyond.
The doctor of humane letters degree will then be conferred upon Dr. Trowell-Harris.
Dr. Sue Henderson will then confer degrees.
The deans of the University's three Colleges will present degree candidates: Dr. Barbara Feldman, dean of the William J. Maxwell College of Arts and Sciences; Dr. Allan De Fina, dean of the Deborah Cannon Partridge Wolfe College of Education; and Dr. Sandra Bloomberg, dean of the College of Professional Studies.
President Henderson will then give the "President's Charge to the Graduates."
Biographical Sketch of Honorary Degree Recipient
Dr. Irene Trowell-Harris '71, R.N., Ed.D.
Dr. Trowell-Harris is a retired USAF NC major general and former Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Center for Women Veterans. She was recently named one of the "21 Leaders for the 21st Century" by Women's eNews as one "unstoppable individual committed to bettering women's lives."
Dr. Trowell-Harris was one of 11 children born to a farming family in Aitken, South Carolina. She grew up picking cotton while dreaming of airplanes. She realized her dream years later, after graduating cum laude from NJCU—then Jersey City State College—in 1971 with a B.A. in Health Education and School Nursing. She served as a flight nurse instructor with the Air National Guard, and during her 38 years of service she received the Air Force Distinguished Service and Legion of Merit Awards, was the first nurse to command an Air National Guard medical clinic, and was the first African-American woman to be promoted to general officer.
Dr. Trowell-Harris retired from active duty in 2001. With a master's degree in Public Health from Yale University and a doctorate in Education from Columbia University, she was appointed by the White House to serve as Director of the VA's Center for Women Services. She worked as the primary advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs on programs and issues related to women in the military.
Dr. Trowell-Harris' commitment to excellence and equality has been widely recognized. She is the first African-American female to have a mentoring award named after her and to have a Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. Chapter named in her honor. She is also the recipient of the Dr. James D. Weaver Society Award, named for the distinguished Pennsylvania Congressman and Air National Guard Flight Surgeon.
For her tireless dedication to public service, Dr. Trowell-Harris was inducted into the Columbia University Nursing Hall of Fame and the Yale University School of Medicine Honor Roll. In addition, she received the Eagle Award from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University for her contributions to aviation.
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