St. Francis College awarded 392 students undergraduate and graduate degrees this spring, capping off an unprecedented academic year that started with an exceptionally large cohort of new students enrolling and ended with period of remote instruction to help safeguard the College community against the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I could not be prouder of our class of 2020. They persevered with grace and flexibility through circumstances no college class has ever endured," said Miguel Martinez-Saenz, Ph.D., President of St. Francis College. "Our graduates may not have wrapped up their final semester with the usual pomp and circumstance, but they're completing with every bit of camaraderie and sense of accomplishment that any class experiences. It's an honor and privilege to grant this class their hard-earned degrees."
In fall 2019, St. Francis College welcomed 613 students into its freshman class and another 209 as transfer students, a record for the College. This group represented the largest number of new students joining in any semester in at least six years.
Thirty-five students earned degrees in psychology (including 12 earning combined BA/MA degrees and one earning an MA). The College conferred 28 degrees in communication arts and biology each, rounding out the top five.
"I thought St. Francis College had a great accounting program," said Nick Nemergut, who earned an MS in Accounting and accepted a full-time position with accounting firm Alter Domas in Connecticut beginning in July. "The professors were all amazing to interact with. It was a very personal experience. The amount of support the professors give definitely makes a difference. They're there to answer your questions any time of the day and they want you to succeed."
The academic honors bestowed on the spring Class of 2020 underscores the high achievement of this year's graduates. Forty-six earned summa cum laude, the highest academic honor. Magna cum laude and cum laude honors were awarded to 64 and 69 students respectively. Twenty-three of the honors recipients are transfer students, illustrating the success students find at SFC when completing their education there. Twenty students earning degrees completed the College's rigorous Honors program.
The spring graduates also include nine McGuire scholars, the second such cohort to earn St. Francis College degrees. The McGuire Scholarship program launched in 2015, thanks to the generosity of Fred and Judy Wilpon and other benefactors, to ensure that students with academic promise and financial need receive financial support to cover tuition all the years they attend the College.
"I knew that St. Francis was small, but having this scholarship meant I had an even smaller group of people, the other scholars, to be part of," said Merna Abdelhalem, a biology major McGuire scholar now applying to medical school. "I knew I would be doing events with them. I think that's what pushed me [to St. Francis College] at the end of the day."
Assuming government health guidelines permit, St. Francis College plans to hold its spring 2020 commencement ceremony on August 27th at Ford Amphitheater on Coney Island, Brooklyn. On June 20th, the College is hosting an online celebration of its graduating class.