Kean University holds in-person commencement week

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UNION, NJ — Kean University celebrated its 2020 graduates for the entire week of July 27 with in-person commencement ceremonies at Alumni Field on the university’s main campus.

University President Lamont Repollet, in his first commencement address since becoming president earlier in July, saluted members of the “remarkable” graduating class for their resilience and determination throughout a senior year marked by a global pandemic, remote learning and other challenges.

“The year 2020 will be remembered for many things in the years to come, including some difficult times and some extraordinary accomplishments. For you and me, I believe what we will remember are the victories we are celebrating right here, today, in Alumni Stadium,” Repollet said. “When we reflect on 2020, we will remember together how we learned to persevere. We will remember that life challenged us in so many ways, and we rose to the occasion. We will remember that in our disappointments, we also found joy.”

After celebrating in a virtual commencement in May, hundreds of graduates returned to campus during the last week of July for a series of in-person ceremonies that gave the graduates the chance to hear their names called, walk across the stage and celebrate their accomplishments.

Graduates of the College of Business and Public Management started things off on Monday, July 27, in two separate ceremonies. Everyone in attendance wore masks and maintained distance from others throughout the event.

“To be able to be in person makes you feel like you actually graduated,” said Ashley Bufis, of Lyndhurst, who received her MBA as her mother and cousin watched. “I didn’t feel like I graduated till now.”

The ceremonies included brief remarks by Board of Trustees Chairperson Ada Morell, Repollet and CBPM Associate Dean Tobin Porterfield. After all graduates had the chance to cross the stage, Repollet led the class in the traditional tassel turn.

Repollet, who is also a Kean alumnus, welcomed the graduates as fellow Kean alumni.

Andrew Pena, of Edison, whose parents, Yanetta and Armando were born in Colombia, said he felt good about graduating.

“It was a long road, kind of difficult for everyone, but I feel the road ahead is paved for me now,” he said.

Pena’s mother said the Class of 2020 will never forget this day.

“There were so many things they had to come through, I’m very gratified they can graduate now,” she said. “The feeling of hearing their name called is something they’ll never feel again. They need to walk for what they worked for.”

Five additional ceremonies were scheduled throughout the week.