If you were in the vicinity of Fox Chase Road on October 10, you likely heard the roaring cheers and loud car horns of the graduating class of Manor College. The College held its annual 2020 commencement ceremony in a different way this year. Typically, the entire campus community, including the graduating class along with their families, join together in the gymnasium. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the College held the 69th Commencement ceremony in the parking lot for a drive-in style, on Saturday, October 10 at 1 p.m. While the new, socially distanced format did change the amount of hugs and handshakes that were able to be shared, this shift in modality did not at all take away from the accomplishments of the graduating class.
Serving as Master of Ceremonies was Danielle Preston, a Philadelphia Market Audit Leader at RSM US LLP and Manor College Board of Trustees member. Student speakers included Jamal Utqi, Manor’s first-ever Bachelor degree graduate and Privish Sadaqat, a top-notch student who immigrated to the United States from Pakistan just two years ago. Both speakers mentioned how grateful they were for their experiences at Manor and how their fellow graduates should be so proud for accomplishing so much during a pandemic.
Leslie Turner, Business Leader and former executive for the Hershey Company, Coca Cola Company and Clinton Administration, addressed the crowd, lined up in cars, tuning in through an FM radio station. A common theme in Turner’s speech was the importance of memories. She stressed the significance of always remembering this special occasion as it is one of the most meaningful days in a student’s life. A standout quote worthy of noting was, “Don’t stop here. Keep dreaming; keep defying the odds”. The majority of Manor’s students and therefore graduates are first-generation—so, graduating from college is an especially notable achievement.
Faculty and staff were among the crowd, as well. Fran Stevenson, Public Safety Officer received the Board of Trustees Staff Award. Jaime Simpson, Director of EFDA Program, won the Board of Trustees Faculty Award. Rabiya Dharsi, an adjunct faculty member, won the Seminak Award. Stevenson stated, “It was both a gratifying surprise and an honor to receive this award. I feel so blessed to have the continuous support of the Manor College community.”
Danielle Preston, Board of Trustee member and Master of Ceremonies stated, “I am very blessed to have been a part of such a joyous occasion. There was such a great energy as we were able to celebrate the successes of our 2020 graduates. I’m proud to be part of an institution that continues to be innovative while navigating the recent challenges.”
The College community is immensely proud of the graduates.