Commencement 2018 - Congratulations, Graduates!

Commencement 2018 - Congratulations, Graduates!

Corey Clement flanked by Provost Jim Newell (left) and President Ali Houshmand. Below, Distinguished Alumnus Christopher Lukach and President Houshmand. Bottom of page: Commencement joy!

Notwithstanding heavy cloud cover and a daylong threat of rain, the main ceremony for Rowan University’s Commencement 2018 was super May 6, as was the keynote speaker – Super Bowl champion and Glassboro High School alumnus Corey Clement.

The program was held, appropriately, in Coach Richard Wackar Stadium, where Clement as a high school senior in 2013 helped his team win the South Jersey Group I state football championship.

“There’s no place like home,” Clement said to heavy applause. “And Glassboro is my home.”

Clement noted that a year ago this week he was just like many of the roughly 2,000 students gathered in flowing black gowns and flat graduation caps before him – excited about his future but somewhat uncertain.

Despite strong play as a running back with the University of Wisconsin Badgers, he went undrafted prior to the 2017-18 season but ultimately was signed by the Eagles as a free agent and helped drive the team to its storybook, first-ever Super Bowl win.

“As you graduate today I hope you’ll tackle your own dream at full speed,” he said.

Following his address, Clement was recognized for his service to Glassboro’s youth, particularly through the borough’s popular Boys & Girls Club, with the presentation of a Rowan University Medal of Excellence for Community Engagement.

In addition to honoring Clement and this year’s graduates, the program honored Christopher J. Lukach, president of Anne Klein Communications Group (AKCG), in Mount Laurel, as a Rowan University Distinguished Alumnus.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the impact Rowan University had on me,” said Lukach ’04, who today is a recognized leader in developing issue and crisis communications plans and advising clients facing crises in numerous industries including healthcare, education and chemical manufacturing.

On Thursday, Rowan will also honor Dr. Lisa J. Hou, a 1996 graduate of the School of Osteopathic Medicine, as a Distinguished Alumna during that school’s Commencement ceremony. Hou, a colonel in the New Jersey Army National Guard, serves as the Guard’s state surgeon and is commander of the Medical Command, a position in which she is responsible for the medical and dental readiness of more than 6,000 soldiers.

In addition to Sunday’s main ceremony, Rowan will host nine college- and school-specific Commencement ceremonies through Friday.


Among most selective universities

Addressing the beribboned and tasseled graduates before him, Rowan President Ali Houshmand urged them to take pride in their alma mater and to remember that, as the University grows, so does the value of their degree.

Rowan, he noted, has expanded tremendously since he joined the University 12 years ago, adding programs and buildings and continually striving to open up access to high quality, affordable four-year college degrees. Rowan in 2012 opened Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden, acquired the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford in 2013 and in 2017 was designated a Carnegie doctoral research university.

“Today we are one of the most selective universities in the Delaware Valley,” he said.

Beaming with pride, Houshmand said he’s proud of the graduates not just as a university president, but as a father.

“I wish you all a long and happy life. Congratulations to you all!”


Get the party started

Houshmand joked that the ceremony, which included an up tempto version of the traditional Pomp and Circumstance march that segued into a Stevie Wonder medley was intentionally somewhat untraditional so it could lead to a party on the grounds outside Wilson and Engineering halls immediately afterward.

But first, there was a surprise. Students who “signed in” beforehand were entered into a drawing courtesy of Rowan’s food provider, Gourmet Dining, and, as the program concluded, a lucky name was drawn.

Provost Jim Newell explained that the winner would receive $5,000 from the vendor with “no strings attached.”

Moments later, Matthew Dieterle, a mechanical engineering major from Somerdale, heard his name called.

“I was shocked, speechless for a second, kind of like, ‘did they just call my name?’ ” he said.

And how will he spend the unexpected windfall?

“Friends would love for me to take them out and buy everyone’s drinks but I think I’ll probably pay my student loans down a bit,” he said.

Streaming from the gates around Wackar Stadium to the after-party, students said they were thrilled for their classmate but felt like winners even without the lucky ticket.

“I’m just so happy to be graduating,” said Taisha Minier, who earned her Masters in Counseling and Education.

Minier, who seeks a position as a high school counselor, said she already advises young people at a salon and barber shop she owns on Westfield Avenue in Camden.

“I try to counsel them on career choices,” Minier said. “I tell my customers, when they come to my salon they get good benefits.”


View a gallery of photos from all of Commencement 2018.