From Students to Alumni: Alumni Board Welcomes Newest Members During Delaney Reception

May 16 was a day unlike any other that has taken place within Saint Peter’s more than 140-year history. During the annual John J. Delaney ’50 Alumni Reception in The Duncan Family Sky Room, senior students were welcomed into the ranks of more than 30,000 living alumni who graduated from The Jesuit University of New Jersey. But this year, the Class of 2013 has one distinction no other alumni share thus far – they are the first graduating class of Saint Peter’s University.

“Four years of hard work and I’m right here at the end – it’s bittersweet,” said Katherine Henriquez ’13, who said the Delaney Reception was a time for her to relax and reflect on her journey throughout her time at Saint Peter’s. “It’s really sad to leave the University, but it’s a happy moment.”

In addition to providing the first opportunity for alumni to welcome the Class of 2013 as its newest members, the event also honored two members of the graduating class and a member of the faculty with awards to commemorate their outstanding contributions to the University community.

The James J. Damiano ’53 Award – named after a dedicated member of the Alumni Board from the Class of 1953 – was presented to two members of the graduating class who have demonstrated leadership and scholarship during their time at the University. Damaris Medina ’13 received the award for the day session and Ibn Shakoor ’13 garnered the honor for the evening session. Professor of Mathematics Larry Thomas, Ph.D., was chosen by his peers to receive the George F. Johnson, S.J., Faculty Award due to his excellence in teaching and success in leading students to greater knowledge and understanding of mathematics.

In receiving the award, Dr. Thomas said, “The first George F. Johnson, S.J., Faculty Award was given to Rev. George J. Hilsdorf, S.J. I recently took a look back at the 42 people who received this award since then, and it’s quite a list. I’m really proud, honored and somewhat amazed to be included in their company.”

He added, “Tradition, of course, is a backward looking kind of thing. By contrast, look at where we are now – this brand new place [the Mac Mahon Student Center], which is not just a building, but a symbol of a forward looking Saint Peter’s University. So I am pleased and honored to accept this award tonight as a kind of mark to a happy union between the College’s distinguished past and the University’s bright future.”

As a cap-off to the night’s festivities, Senior Class Gift Advancement Ambassadors and presented University President Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., with a check of $3,659 for the Senior Class Gift. The amount was raised from 254 contributions, including an annual Senior Class Gift commitment from Anne Butler ’69. Due to this generosity, last year’s total of 198 donors and $3,183 was surpassed, making the Class of 2013 the largest contributors to the Senior Class Gift in Saint Peter’s history.

The Delaney Reception, hosted by the Saint Peter’s University Office of Alumni Engagement and the Alumni Board – a committee that develops a liaison between Saint Peter’s University and its graduates to maintain and foster relationships with alumni through social, professional, spiritual and community service related activities – serves as a starting point for every member of the graduating class in remaining an integral part of the University family. During the event, the Class of 2013 discovered that commencement doesn’t mark the end of their relationship with Saint Peter’s. It is only the beginning of a lifelong connection to the Peacock family.

“All of you have many titles in life – son, daughter, friend,” said President of the Alumni Board Stephen P. Ellerman ’74. “But tonight, you have a different title. Tonight marks a change in your relationship with the University. You go from being a student into very proud alumni.”

On Monday, May 20, at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., each graduate will be conferred their degree. The tassel that dangles from their cap will be switched from the right side to the left – a symbol of their official transition from students to alumni. But after the Delaney Reception, each graduate knows Saint Peter’s University is a place they can always call home.