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STHM Commencement Honors Students’ Accomplishments and Potential

By: Alison Rooney
First Published: May 20, 2021
Topics: Alumni, Feature Story, In the News, STHM School, Student Showcase, Student Stories

It has been a year demanding changes and accommodation worldwide. And on this Friday, May 7, 2021, STHM stepped away from this strive and gloom and instead hosted a inspiring in-person commencement ceremony for its graduates—one that was worthy of all they have accomplished as well as all they have overcome. Held at the Liacouras Center, exclusively with students and leadership in attendance while families and STHM community watched online, it was a much-deserved party for the class that triumphed in their last three semesters over lockdown and pandemic restrictions and stress.

Leading the ceremony was Jeremy Jordan, the Associate Dean, Associate Professor and the Millard E. Gladfelter Research Fellow, who opened by musing, “it’s really refreshing to be here with you all today. This feels more normal. It feels right.”

“This is not the traditional commencement speech or the conventional graduation ceremony we long awaited,” said student graduation speaker Jennifer Sierra ’21, “as this was certainly not a traditional four years of college and we…are surely not the traditional group of students. Our desire and drive to succeed amidst it all has never wavered.” She had the distinction of being the student Commencement Speaker for the entire University—not the first time an STHM student has held that honor.

“An STHM experience… truly takes a village,” Sierra noted. “We’ve made it this far because of each other.  Our support for one another—we could not have done this without each other,” Sierra continued. “As classmates, roommates, and… group project members…we pushed each other more than anyone else did, in-person and over Zoom.  Even though we are stepping forward onto our individual paths, we will forever be united by the friendships and memories made during our time here together.”  

Highlighting students who’ve already achieved career success 

In his speech Jordan called out individual students whose drive and academic commitment were a testament to the class overall, and how it has already landed them prestigious positions in their industries. These included Tourism and Hospitality graduate Sarah Salmi, who came to STHM from her native France and will soon be an events coordinator at the prestigious Hill School in Pottstown, Pa.; and Sydney Rosebrough, a Sport and Recreation Management graduate who’s the newest account executive for Organization Business Development with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. 

How the Class championed STHM values amidst the community and culture

Jordan went so far as to assert that “the Classes of 2020 and 2021 might be the most-prepared classes of graduates that we have ever had come out of Temple and STHM.” He pointed out to students, “You have had to contend with increasing incidences of social and racial injustice. He called out how in yet another way the Class is exceptional: “Many of you are committed to change and will do all that you can to help create a more inclusive society. One that values difference and strives to support all individuals.”

“We are a team,” Sierra said, “and as a class we have worked hard…and learned to innovate and adjust when faced with adversity—we are prepared to take charge, to know right from wrong, and to lead and contribute to society with peace and purpose.”  

Looking ahead to an increasingly bright future in resilient industries

“Our class will not be defined by what we have lost,” Sierra said. “Amidst a world of unpredictability, we are being called to step into the unknown and an uncertain future. But we will always have a strong foundation and STHM family standing with and behind us.”  

Jordan, who like many Temple leaders and faculty has the benefit of the long view, was especially reassuring in terms of professional opportunities that await. “Now is the perfect time to be entering the job market with a degree from STHM,” he said. “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how much our experience-focused industries matter. They will be a key driver in our return to feeling reconnected to each other, and that’s to your benefit…Opportunities are everywhere, just waiting to be seized by bright, capable leaders like yourselves.”