Despite unforeseen obstacles, Manor College students reach ‘finish line’ with 2021 Commencement ceremony

The Manor College 2021 Commencement featured a Drive In format, allowing students to watch and participate in the ceremony while adhering to COVID protocols. Madelyn Rivera thought she found balance in her life. The mother of three managed a job as a healthcare worker while attending a full slate of classes at Manor College.  Then the COVID-19 pandemic took over her life.  “This only added more challenges because I had to move all my classes online along with my two other children,” said Rivera, a student speaker at the 2021 Manor College Commencement ceremony. “Not only was I a full-time student, healthcare worker and mom, but now I’m a full-time teacher to a 7th and 3rd grader.” Due to COVID-19 regulations, Manor College held the 2021 Commencement ceremony as a drive-in event, with students and their families watching the festivities from their vehicles. In total, 124 Manor College students received their diplomas on May 13.  Like her classmates, Rivera persevered through the pandemic’s challenges. She completed her Associate’s degree at Manor as a member of the college’s honor society, graduating with a 3.9 GPA. “To my classmates who turned into forever friends, thank you for sticking with me,” Rivera said. “I don’t know how I would have made it through exams, projects, midterms and finals without you.” The 2021 Commencement speaker was Noe Ortega, Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Education. While he didn’t have a pandemic to push through, Ortega recalled a large senior project that forced him to grind out his final semester of his own college days. “I tell this story to make sure that everyone knows that the finish line is a hard one to get to and you deserve to be applauded for the work that you did,” Ortega said. “Earning these credentials is hard work for everyone, not just yourself, including someone who has the honor of being the Secretary of Education. I struggled to finish my work as well.” In the years since graduating, Ortega noted that there were plenty of moments where life was a grind and he fought the convenient option of quitting. In those moments, he said, is when one’s true character sticks out.  “What will define you is how you respond to these moments in your life and you have to make them count,” Ortega said. “You can persist and you can succeed.” William Rodebaugh, a Philadelphia native, delivered the class speech for Manor College’s Bachelor degree graduates. Rodebaugh came to Manor College as a home-schooled student diagnosed with Autism, but soon found a home at the institution. Rodebaugh started his time at Manor College as the quiet kid listening to Pandora in his earbuds, but after seeing the College’s tagline, “You Belong Here,” the institution became his second home. He began running cross country and track at Manor College, and served as a member of the college’s Student Senate and Campus Activities Board.  He completes his Manor journey as a recipient of the Mother Josaphat Medal. The medal is awarded to one student per year who exhibits a responsible lifestyle, evidenced through reverence, respect and service to the community at Manor College and beyond. While GPA is not the primary contributor to the award, Rodebaugh graduated with a 4.0 GPA from the college.  “Manor College is not just a College, it is so much more than that,” he said. “It is a home and everyone here — students, staff and professors — are family to me. I get so proud every time I walk into the doors of Manor knowing that I found a place I belong and that I have so many people that care for me.” Congratulations to all 124 graduating students from the Manor College Class of 2021!  

Manor College announces 2021 Commencement Speaker – Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Education, Noe Ortega

The Manor College 2021 Commencement is set for Thursday, May 13, 2021 at 1:00pm in Manor’s Parking Lot as a Drive In formatted ceremony  On Thursday, May 13, 2021, the graduating class of 2021 will drive into campus and attend a uniquely styled and meaningful Drive In Commencement ceremony at Manor College, surrounded by family, friends, faculty, staff and alumni. 100+ students, who have demonstrated their competence and excellence through hard work, dedication and resilience, will receive their long-awaited Bachelor degrees in Arts and Sciences, and Associate degrees in Arts and Sciences. Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Education, Noe Ortega, is this year’s commencement speaker. Raised in Robstown, Texas, Secretary Ortega is a lifelong educator, higher education professional and colleague to Manor College. Prior to his appointment, he served as the Deputy Secretary and Commissioner for the Office of Postsecondary and Higher Education at the Pennsylvania Department of Education. As Deputy Secretary and Commissioner, he led the work of the agency aimed at closing the postsecondary attainment gaps that have persisted among historically underrepresented populations and communities of color in Pennsylvania. “Secretary Ortega understands how higher education and its challenges, such as access and affordability, impact students disparately” said Manor College’s President Jonathan Peri, “Thanks to his research, his action and his leadership, Pennsylvania’s schools across the board are becoming more equitable every day.  We are blessed that he will be our commencement speaker for 2021.” Prior to his work as Deputy Secretary and Commissioner for Higher Education, Secretary Ortega spent eight years at the University of Michigan, where he held several academic and administrative roles. During his tenure he worked as the Assistant Director and Senior Research Associate at the National Center for Institutional Diversity and as the Managing Director for the National Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good. Though most of his research focused on postsecondary access and success for all students, his most recent publications examine how public investment in higher education influences decision-making at colleges and universities. Additionally, Secretary Ortega spent nearly a decade working in the areas of financial aid and enrollment management at both public and private universities in Texas, and he also served as a P-16 Specialist for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Secretary Ortega also spent nearly seven years as director of a language institute in Japan where he trained teachers in the area of early childhood language acquisition. “I am honored for the opportunity to address Manor College’s class of 2021 as the commencement speaker and to help celebrate this incredible milestone,” said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “Each student has worked very hard to get to this day, and they have a lot to be proud of as they pursue their unique paths ahead. I look forward to joining them, their families, and the campus community in recognition of this special occasion.” Manor College welcomes Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of Education, Noe Ortega, as its 2021 Commencement speaker, and is looking forward to hearing his thoughtful remarks to the Manor graduates. For more information about the 2021 Manor College Commencement ceremony please visit: