A Time to Celebrate the Graduates: GCU’s 2021 Commencement

2021 Commencement
On May 19-20, Georgian Court University will hold Commencement 2021 exercises on its Lakewood campus for students from the classes of May 2021, December 2020, and August 2020.

Four ceremonies will allow an in-person experience for each graduate and limited guests, while observing New Jersey COVID-19 requirements for social distancing and masks. The ceremonies will be livestreamed, as will a virtual Baccalaureate Service on May 18. Information on how to view the virtual and livestream events will be available on the commencement website.

The graduates represent 11 states, a territory, and eight countries, and range in age from 18 to 90. Marion Thomas, believed to be the oldest graduate in Georgian Court history, was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies last December, and plans to attend the May ceremony.

In addition, the university will award a posthumous degree to late GCU nursing student Britani Kramer, who would have graduated with the nearly 100 B.S.N. students who will get their degrees this month. The class includes several men, underscoring the continued growth of male nurses in the profession.

Two speakers will address graduates, faculty, and guests: Alicia Cook ’08, best-selling poet, award-winning activist, and songwriter, during the Wednesday, May 19, morning ceremony; and Judith M. Persichilli, RN, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, at the May 19 afternoon ceremony.

Honorary degrees will be awarded on Thursday, May 20, to two people who are both outstanding in their chosen fields and in community service, who will also serve as Commencement speakers for their respective ceremonies. They are Annie Hanna Cestra ’73, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, and Marlene Laó-Collins, executive director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton.

To read more about our graduates, speakers, and award recipients please click here.

Join the Alumni Board of Directors

Alumni Board of Directors

The Georgian Court University Alumni Association is accepting nominations for and from alumni who are interested in joining the Alumni Board of Directors (ABoD) for the new term beginning July 1, 2021.

The Alumni Board of Directors guides the university on alumni engagement activities, carries out the mission and strategic plan of the association, and assists the university in its endeavors. The ABoD meets twice a year for a full-day meeting, with touch points in between. It is not necessary that an alum be located within proximity to the Lakewood campus. Information regarding the ABoD can be found on the GCU alumni website. If you are interested in running for the ABoD, or if you would like to nominate an alum for this position, please send an e-mail indicating your interest to alumni@georgian.edu. You will be contacted by the chairs of our Nominations Committee, Marylu Dalton, Ed.D., ’82, ’93 and Keri Tarantino Carlton ’99.

Call for Nominations: Alumni Awards

Alumni Awards

Georgian Court has always been proud of their alumni, graduating seniors, and others who continue to demonstrate the Mercy core values and leadership through their volunteer efforts to the university and the Alumni Association. Many GCU graduates go on to attain outstanding achievements in their chosen careers and personal lives.

Do you know someone that has made an impact? We welcome your nominations to continue our tradition of recognizing these individuals during our Reunion and Homecoming Weekend. To nominate an alum, please visit our website and complete your submission by May 15, 2021.

“Receiving the Georgian Court University Alumni Service Award in 2020 was the greatest honor of my life, even more so during a pandemic with a virtual celebration. As memory serves me, I was on a zoom call with my dear college friends when Joanne Huelsman ‘77 (Awards Chair) announced that I would be receiving this most prestigious award. To say I was emotional was an understatement, that I had been recognized for all my work and dedication to my Alma Mater. I knew my mom and dad were looking from heaven with joy on this accomplishment. I thank them, as well as my family, friends, fellow Courtiers, and Sisters of Mercy for their unconditional support.” Constance Anne Reymann ’77,’00 2020 Award Recipient


Poet Patricia Smith

To celebrate the start of National Poetry Month, Georgian Court University’s Department of English will host award-winning Visiting Poet Patricia Smith for a free virtual reading on Thursday, April 1 from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. on Zoom. The event will include a reading, student-led interview, and audience Q&A.

Ms. Smith is nationally recognized and especially loved in New Jersey, so the Department of English is proud to be hosting Ms. Smith, according to Kristen Park Wedlock, assistant professor of writing. She notes that the department has been hard at work since last year to make this happen after a delay due to COVID-19.

“The department rallied together, made the call to go virtual, and we are so pleased, honored, and excited to be hosting Patricia Smith,” says Ms. Wedlock.

Through her poetry, Patricia Smith delivers truth, demands justice, witnesses grief, and celebrates living in lines that carry, cut, and carve out space for attention. There is always a body living in the lines to be inhabited, visited, or mourned. Some of Patricia Smith’s work includes personifying weather as Hurricane Katrina in Blood Dazzler, embodying the experience of migration in Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, or investigating suffering through the elements of fire, water, and air in Incendiary Art. Ms. Smith composes voices that speak out, call in, and carry you to a place of radical compassion.

“Patricia Smith follows the lead; she listens between newsprint clips and shared stories and life experiences to find the emotional, intellectual, and visceral truth that her poetry creates,” says Ms. Wedlock.

Patricia Smith is a professor for the City University of New York as well as an instructor in the Master of Fine Arts program at Sierra Nevada University and Vermont College of Fine Arts Post-Graduate Residency Program. She is the author of eight volumes of poetry and has an impressive list of wins, including the 2013 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of Poets, a 2013 Phillis Wheatley Book Award, the 2014 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize from the Library of Congress, 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, a 2008 National Book Award Finalist, and a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize. She is a Guggenheim fellow, a Civitellian, a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient, a finalist for the Neustadt Prize, a former fellow at both Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and a record-setting four-time national poetry slam champion as well as a feature on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and the film Slamnation. In 2018, Ms. Smith was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work appeared in places such as Poetry, The Paris Review, The Baffler, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Patricia Smith’s virtual reading and interview is a free, public virtual event on Zoom, and requires registration at https://georgian.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMkdOmqqj8sEtKNYFEyBuRd0kQKMt_u1jtN.

GCU School of Education Club Makes a Difference at Local Elementary School

Georgian Court Raymond Hall

In an effort to support and recognize teachers and schools, the newly established Georgian Court University School of Education Club set up a school supply drive with the help of Cassandra Lo, Ed.D., assistant professor of education and director of the School of Education’s pre-education program. In February, three of the club’s officers—Jennifer Tregillies, president; Jenna Yascur, vice president; and Kelsi Sanfilippo-Crennan, secretary, presented the collected school supplies to Spruce Street School in Lakewood, New Jersey. The donated supplies included books, pencils, glue sticks, and sensory toys.

Jenna, a mathematics and education major, is aspiring to become a special education teacher at an elementary school, and says that the visit to Spruce Street School was a rewarding experience for both her and the club.

“This was something we really wanted to do, and we are so happy we did,” says Jenna. “It means a lot to be able to help out and support the schools in our own community.”

To read more, click here.

Supporting our Students Through the Angel Fund

Georgian Court Students

As we all are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that has touched all of our lives. In the face of such unprecedented times, we are looking to the greater GCU community to help students who are increasingly affected. GCU students are currently being asked to adjust and prevail against the backdrop of this tragedy, and our resourcefulness is vital to their success.

The university has responded by shifting coursework and degree requirements online, utilizing various resources to provide a steady remote learning environment. These adjustments, however, present challenges for many of our students. For this reason, we have launched a campaign to strengthen The Angel Fund.

The Angel Fund deploys resources including food supplies for the Student Food Pantry, subsidizes costs for working laptops or cell phone chargers, and addresses other primary needs. These critical funds will hopefully help bridge the gap, providing a safety net for those in need until life slowly returns to normal.