Pearls of Wisdom as Convocation Launches Rutgers' Graduation Season

Chuck O'Donnell | Tap into New Brunswick, May 3, 2023

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Jacqueline Giz’s graduation from the Rutgers Honors College represents more than a milestone in her academic career. It’s another step forward in a personal path toward a graduate in art history – the same degree her mom, Kimberly, was working toward when she died in 2014.

When Giz completed a paper, when she volunteered as an Honors College Ambassador, when she traveled to Italy to study ancient Roman artwork, when she served as a docent at the Rutgers’ Zimmerli Art Museum, she felt an especially close connection to her mom – as if she has set out to complete this journey for the both of them.

For Giz and hundreds of her fellow Honors College classmates, the Tuesday, May 2 convocation ceremony was an opportunity to reflect on how far they had come and how much their lives have been transformed during their time at Rutgers.

“When I came to Rutgers my freshman year, I really wanted to be a lawyer,” Giz said. “I was convinced that was the only path for me. At Rutgers, I became a docent at our museum. I started taking graduate courses in art history. I really like to teach, and I really like to pursue advanced research. It’s something I genuinely love; I don’t know why.”

Tuesday’s convocation kicked off graduation season for thousands of soon-to-be Rutgers grads. Each corner of the university, including fields of study ranging from School of Engineering to the School of Social Work to the School of Public Health, will host a convocation in the coming weeks. The Rutgers-New Brunswick and the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences commencement ceremony will be Sunday, May 14, at SHI Stadium.

Convocations could be best described as the less-celebrated but more personal little siblings to commencements. No pomp and circumstance, but hugs and at least a few tears. No moving tassels from right to left, but moving speeches often delivered by a few of the graduates.

Convocations are when and where individual students are typically recognized for their academic achievements.

So, those students who gathered Tuesday under the President’s Tent on Bishop Place posed for photos with loved ones and collected their Honors College Medals. These are awarded to the students who have completed all requirements to receive the designation of “Honors College Scholar” and are emblazoned with an image of the clock tower that has silently marked time these past few years.

The speeches were often deeply personal, sometimes comical and often sprinkled with inside jokes and references anyone who didn’t spend their formative educational years at 5 Seminary Place just wouldn’t get.

They dropped pearls of wisdom from Steve Jobs, Clara Barton, Bruce Springsteen, Venus Williams, Ben Franklin and Yoda.

They lamented the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the isolation of remote instruction.

They compared their personal growth to seeds breaking through the soil and flourishing into a lush garden.

And they paid tribute to those who helped them on their path.

They were students such as Srujanesh Gunda, who began his time at the Honors College eager to study business, but will be going on to medical school. He has been inspired by the research study work into Parkinson’s Disease he conducted with professor/mentor at Rutgers, Gian Pal.

"Sunny," as his friends call him, is eager to become the first doctor in his family and has dedicated his future to treating patients and one day unlocking the secrets of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses of the brain and central nervous system.

“That’s the goal,” said Gunda, who was also encouraged by another professor he counts as a mentor, Mukesh Patel. “From the beginning it wasn’t about going into medicine for the money, because as a business undergrad, you learn many other ways that you can make money through a career. But I think it will be really rewarding once I finish the path.”

FULL SOURCE: Tap into New Brunswick | Pearls of Wisdom as Convocation Launches Rutgers' Graduation Season