If one word could describe Wilmington University’s Classes of 2020 and 2021, it would be passion.
Passion to excel, reach a dream, work through adversity, and make a difference in the community.
On October 3, 2021, Wilmington University awarded over 2,000 academic degrees during its 49th and 50th Commencement ceremonies at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. It was the first time the university held its graduation ceremonies since January 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the excitement in the building was palpable.
The Classes of 2020 and 2021 include more than 6,600 graduates from 80 different countries, representing Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe. The most distant graduates live in Japan and South Korea. The youngest was 18 years old; the oldest, 82. More than 1,700 completed their degrees entirely online. They join the WilmU Alumni Association, which celebrates over 56,000 members.
The theme of passion was evident in commencement addresses given throughout the day. The speakers shared their WilmU experiences and reflected on how faculty and staff guided them towards pursuing their dreams.
Dr. Lemar T. White, who completed his Master of Science in Accounting in January 2021, has a devoted history with WilmU. His Accounting degree is the third master’s he has earned through the University, and he has taught as a WilmU adjunct professor for more than ten years.
The Barbados native currently works at Google as its diversity, equity and inclusion learning strategist and emphasized how actions speak louder than words. “We all had dreams of someday graduating with our degrees,” White reflected. “But we didn’t just dream. We put in the work, the hard work, to be here today … You didn’t just say you are going to earn your degree, you did it.”
Samuel Kmiec, a May 2020 graduate of the Bachelor of Science in Video and Film Production program, shared how his major league baseball career was cut short due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, and how this life-changing event revealed his passion for visual art and storytelling. “WilmU offered a chance to learn again, to speak with professors who are out in the field doing the work we all want to do,” Kmiec explained. “We all strive to make a difference and WilmU has provided a strong foundation for us to realize our potential.”
Commencement speakers also included:
- Tamra Fostock Baurys, Doctor of Educational Leadership in the College of Education
- Jacqueline Cameron, Master of Science in Management in the College of Business
- Krysta Memis, Bachelor of Science in Law, Policy, and Political Science in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
- Nokwamkele Sibanda, Bachelor of Science in Health Science in the College of Health Professions
Supporting students’ passion to make a difference is just one of the ways WilmU has worked for these graduates, and many more like them.
“Wilmington University offered support, guidance and accommodations to each of us during a time of tremendous uncertainty,” Jacqueline Cameron reflected in her address. “This institution provided a platform for us to receive valuable instruction in our chosen fields and laid the foundation for the many achievements we celebrate here today. The administrators, advisors, professors, and countless others worked tirelessly to be the leading advocates for our success, and encouraged us to reach our greatest potential.”
Congratulations, Classes of 2020 and 2021!