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Drew University’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies Celebrates the Class of 2024

“We are not just educated, but specialized and prepared to participate in our fields as advanced professionals”

May 2024 – A rainy Friday did not put a damper on the Drew University’s Caspersen School of Graduate Studies’ 156th Commencement ceremony, which took place on Mead Lawn.

Drew conferred more than 80 students at the ceremony, which was also live streamed for those unable to attend.

Celebrating her first commencement since joining Drew in 2023, University President Hilary L. Link, PhD, recognized the achievements of the graduating class.

“Today is about celebrating each and every one of you, for your hard work, your successes in the classroom, in internships or service, or on the athletic field, and your successful completion of your Drew degree,” she said. “But it is really about so much more than that, which is what makes Drew such a special community. I feel blessed and grateful to be leading this special community, today more than ever.”

Laura Winters C’79, G’87,’90, affiliate professor of literary studies, writing, and studies in religion in the Arts & Letters program, reflected on her 50-year relationship with Drew as a three-time graduate and professor during her Commencement address. 

She asked the graduates to ponder their own experiences at Drew as she acknowledged her mentors and legacy.

“My mentors and wisdom figures taught me what to pay attention to and what to ignore,” she said. “They embodied the reality that a life of the mind matters. I have given my life’s energy to my own growth and the growth of my students. My legacy to Drew University, and one I hope that you will now join with me as fellow alums, is to ensure that this intellectual community continues to thrive.”

Student achievement awards were presented to seven outstanding graduating students. Sarah Churchill G’23 was awarded the Reimer Prize, Joshua Roeder G’23 was award the Mary Pennywitt Lester Prize, Kate Zimmerbaum G’24 was awarded the Dean Pain Prize, Kadeem Gayle G’24 was awarded the Dean’s Medical Humanities Dissertation Prize, Anthi Panayides C’23, G’24 was awarded the Dean’s Master of Arts in Teaching Prize, Zhihao Chen G’24 was awarded the Dean’s Prize in Finance, and Mehek Agrawal C’23, G’24 was awarded the Dean’s Prize in Data Science. 

Agrawal, who received her Master of Science in Data Science degree during the ceremony, spoke to her fellow classmates on her journey and at Drew and her experiences as an international student.

She asked her peers to remember their “why” or their “whom.”

“I am constantly amazed by the resilience of students I have met here at Drew, who laugh in the face of failure and have the persistence to triumph against all odds,” she said. “No matter how the world makes us feel, we are remarkable, and we carry with us our resilience, adaptability, and diverse perspectives everywhere we go.”

“We are not just educated, but specialized and prepared to participate in our fields as advanced professionals. Having been a student all my life, to me, that is incredibly exciting.”

President Link presented Christina McGrath G’21 with the student-nominated Thomas H. Kean Mentor of the Year Award, recognized for her guidance and mentorship offered to Caspersen students crafting dissertations. 

“You are prepared to give with not just the knowledge you have learned here at Drew, but with a commitment to your community and a desire to engage in lifelong learning,” said Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies Ryan Hinrichs. “As you go forward, I ask that you strive to fulfill our University’s mission to ‘add to the world’s good by responding to the urgent challenges of our time with rigorous, independent, and imaginative thought.’”

“All we can do is go forth and help others with life, and be life for others,” said Bishop Schol during his benediction.

For more photos, click here.

For more Commencement 2024 coverage, click here

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