Manor College Celebrates 73rd Annual Commencement Ceremony

More than 100 Blue Jays received their diplomas on May 16, 2024.

Manor College graduate Jocelyn Garcia receives her diploma.

Neysha Medina didn’t need a fancy quote to encourage her fellow graduates to be the best version of themselves. They only need to look around at Manor College’s Commencement ceremony. 

“We’ve seen these examples every day here at Manor,” Medina said. “I am confident when I say that these past years at Manor College molded us into community-driven people and sharpened our intellectual abilities. They have also taught us the importance of expressing and embracing our basic human attributes such as passion, hard work, and the greatest commandment of all, love. These attributes and many more are proudly demonstrated in all aspects of our beautiful little campus…. We’ve all in our own ways learned valuable lessons here at Manor.”

Medina was one of several speakers at Manor College’s annual Commencement ceremony on May 16, 2024. Medina, who graduated with her Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene, spoke on behalf of all Associate degree graduates. 

Edward Fortescue, Jr. joined Medina at the podium, speaking on behalf of all Bachelor degree graduates. Fortescue stressed the importance of striving for your passion. 

“What Manor allowed me to do is to follow my love and passion,” Fortescue said. “Do not let anyone tell you that you can’t. This world is full of opportunities. Find that passion that makes you love what you do.” 

During the Commencement ceremony, Manor College honored Gregory E. Deavens with a Doctorate of Humane Letters. Deavens, the President and CEO of Independence Blue Cross, was lauded for his work to effect change on a systemic scale, with focused attention on areas of equity. He joins Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and NBC10, Emmy award winning journalist Tracy Davidson as the only recipients of an honorary degree from Manor College. 

“What I admire most about Greg is his resolute determination to ensure equitable, whole-person health care and his focus on reducing racial and economic health inequities in healthcare,” Dr. Jonathan Peri, Manor College President, said. 

Independence Blue Cross President and CEO Gregory Deavens (right) receives an honorary doctorate from Manor College President Dr. Jonathan Peri.

In addition to receiving the honorary degree, Deavens served as the Commencement Orator. He spoke about the “uniquely daunting experience” that comes with being a First-Generation college graduate like the majority of Manor’s graduates are. 

“What you achieved will likely change the trajectory of your families for generations to come,” Deavens said. “My parents were the first in their families to attend and graduate from college. Their commitment and dedication to finish their education made a massive difference in their lives and in the lives of the two generations that have followed.”

He encouraged graduates that, despite feelings of excitement, anxiety and hope, that they are not alone. 

“(These feelings) are signs of your potential and your promise,” Deavens said. “They demonstrate that you are ready to take on new challenges and opportunities, to learn from your experiences and to grow as individuals and as professionals.”

It was announced at graduation that Deavens and his wife Beverly, in conjunction with Manor College Board of Trustees Treasurer James Nevels and his wife Lourene, will commit $50,000 per couple for the Deavens-Nevels Summer Scholars program. Starting this summer and continuing to 2025, eligible students will be able to take summer classes at no tuition cost. 

The ceremony concluded with Manor College Alumni speakers and sisters Vera ‘15 and Marta Penkalskyj ‘18. 

“Today marks the beginning of your newfound independence,” Marta Penkalskyj said. “Education is the liberator of minds. It releases you from the shackles of limitations. This milestone is not merely about acquiring knowledge, but about gaining the tools to break free from the confines of preconceived notions and societal expectations… I urge you to remember the advantage you hold by graduating from Manor College.”

Vera added, “As you leave here today, don’t forget to come back and visit. I guarantee that Manor will welcome you with open arms and will look forward to hearing about your achievements. I hope that Manor leaves a positive mark on you, one which will always be with you wherever your dreams send you.”

WATCH: View the ceremony in its entirety here.

Meet our Graduates

Diego Peralta

Brooke Strassle

Eddie Fortesque

Neysha Medina

Yelyzaveta Mazepa

Wandell Scott

Keith Donofrio

Hailey Ramirez

Tamara Ellerbe

More about the 2024 Commencement

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2024 Commencement Speaker Gregory E. Deavens

Meet the Alumni Speakers

Meet the Student Speakers

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