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Global Aspirations and Celebration for Centennial Year Class of 2020

Featured Events , Graduate Undergraduate | May 21, 2020 |

Drive, determination and resilience were on display this week as the Gabelli School’s Class of 2020 celebrated commencement and took part in virtual diploma ceremonies from around the globe.

In all, some 5,500 Fordham undergraduate and graduate students celebrated graduation at home this week due to safety measures surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, but Fordham’s 175th Commencement was a virtual success, shared via video webcast on May 16.

Following the commencement webcast, Gabelli School undergraduate members of the Class of 2020 viewed a special virtual celebration, which included a presentation of personalized slides recognizing each graduate and officially welcoming them to the Fordham University alumni community. 

On Tuesday, May 19, the Gabelli School of Business graduating classes of MS, MBA and DPS students displayed their Gabelli School Zoom backgrounds to be officially celebrated as degree recipients. Several also wore their caps and gowns, which were received by mail.

Though they originally did not expect to be suiting up to graduate from the comfort of their own homes, their achievements were marked with a virtual diploma ceremony in the morning, and Zoom celebrations for each program throughout the day, even as plans for future in-person celebrations still stand for when health and safety regulations allow.

By the numbers, the virtual diploma ceremony was nothing, if not global. Celebrating 998 MS, MBA and DPS degree recipients from 14 programs, students, faculty, staff, families, friends and loved ones from 45 countries, 329 cities, and 6 continents joined virtually to celebrate and wish their graduating students well.

The ceremony was kicked off with an invocation by Fr. Michael McCarthy, SJ, Fordham’s vice president for mission integration and planning, followed by remarks from Dean Donna Rapaccioli, Student Advisory Council President Madeline Jordan, GABELLI ‘20, and guest speaker Dario Werthein, GABELLI ‘91, director of Grupo Werthein.

Dean Donna Rapaccioli urged the Class of 2020 to find the opportunity in a challenge and to see how they might grow and learn during these difficult times. “There are so many illustrations of how adversity helps us to grow and to develop our strengths.” Dean Rapaccioli encouraged graduating students to enjoy their moment, and to celebrate their hard work and accomplishments.

The program celebrations continued throughout the day, honoring graduates, including those receiving academic area awards and Dean’s List recognition in the Full-Time MBA, Executive MBA, Professional MBA, MS in Accounting and MS in Taxation, MS in Global Finance, MS in Management, MS in Media Management, MS in Quantitative Finance, MS in Business Analytics and MS in Information Technology, and MS in Applied Statistics and Decision-Making programs.

During the MS in Management session, hosted by program director Michael Pirson, special guest speakers were Michael Gelb, co-director of the “Leading Innovation: Thinking Creatively for Positive Change” seminar at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business and Jerry White, a Nobel laureate, co-founder of Survivor Corps, Gabelli Fellow, and award-winning activist. Gelb inspired students to go deep into what their visions are for their lives and work to find their true value and purpose during this time of quarantine. While White let students know that, “it is all about resilience and overcoming” the times of shadow, to see the light.

In a message to the graduating class of MS in Quantitative Finance Gabelli School of Business advisory board member, Christopher Cohen, of the Royal Bank of Canada, asked, “What is your role in all of this? How can you make the world a better place than what it was three months ago?” Cohen urged the graduating students of Quantitative Finance to use what they have learned during their time at the Gabelli School, and give back to the communities they work and live in, especially now.

Other program guest speakers included Beverly Connolly, partner with EY, in the MS in Taxation celebration and Adam Pittman, SJ, GABELLI ‘19, in the Executive MBA celebration. In addition to special guest speakers, student speakers were chosen to represent their programs as well by each program’s director.

Graduating students Beth Holub, Emily Flannagan, Swarna Swathi Badekila, Nicholas Clark, Yifei Zhang, Andrea Acquaviva, Jay McGill, and Audrey McBrien, all GABELLI ‘20, were provided the opportunity to address their peers and provide well wishes before they parted ways.

Swarna Swathi Badekila, GABELLI ‘20, may have said it best, “My experiences at the Gabelli School went beyond my expectations. It is truly a compassionate community made up of benevolent people. Our dean, Donna Rapaccioli and several others I met here at the Gabelli School are a true inspiration.”

Congratulations to the class of 2020!

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