Peirce College Celebrates Class of 2020 with Virtual Commencement Ceremony

Jun 23, 2020, 13:39 PM by Amanda Hill

Class of 2020 includes 299 graduates with an average age of 38, most from the Greater Philadelphia Region

PHILADELPHIA, June 23, 2020 — Not even a pandemic can stop the Peirce College Class of 2020. 

The College’s 155th Commencement Ceremony will be held virtually on Tuesday, June 23rd, at 7pm, to honor and recognize the achievements, sacrifices, and sheer tenacity of this graduating class. 

“The Class of 2020 has shown unprecedented grit and determination to get to this point,” said, Dr. Mary Ellen Caro, Peirce’s President & CEO. “As adult students, they had to balance careers, families, and community responsibilities while earning their degree, and were then forced to complete their studies in the middle of a pandemic. They are inspirational, their stories are touching, and their enthusiasm is contagious.” 

With an average age of 38, the Peirce Class of 2020 includes five graduates over the age of 60 and a great-grandmother who recently turned 85 years old. 57% of graduates are Black or African American.

Graduates include:

  • Joye Lavendar, a Pre-Certification and Appeals Manager at Temple Health. Ms. Lavender is also a single mother who gave birth to twins while finishing her master’s degree in less than a year.
  • Naima Qadimi, a Moroccan immigrant who spent 19 years teaching middle school students in her native Arabic before moving to Philadelphia and enrolling at Peirce College.
  • Brian Brennan, a father from Warminster, who works as a Senior Director of Workforce Services Operations in Philadelphia.

The Peirce Class of 2020 also includes two married couples - Solina Phal and Andrew Tong, and Ashley and Thalia Rosario - as well as Denise and Jenna Edeline, sisters from Fishtown. 

Marge Jackson, Senior Vice President of Sales Enablement and Multicultural Symphony for Comcast, will be this year’s keynote speaker. Jackson has more than 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and has been recognized as an industry leader and top woman/minority in business. She is a Peirce College alumnae and a graduate of WICT’s prestigious Betsy Magness Leadership Institute, the Comcast Women in Leadership program at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the CTAM Executive Program at Harvard University.

The student keynote address will be provided by Robin Neary, who is graduating with her Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership. Neary built a successful corporate career, but was dismayed when she learned she could not advance further without a bachelor’s degree. She was able to combine credits from two other colleges to shorten her time to completion. 

Peirce College has launched six new programs in the last two years and the Class of 2020 includes the first graduates of the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, Certificate of Proficiency in Cybersecurity, Certificate of Proficiency in Human Resource Management, and Certificate of Proficiency in Customer Service.

Each of the 299 graduates will hear their name called by their respective faculty chair during the ceremony. Caps, tassels, and commemorative academic medallions were sent to graduates in advance of the ceremony. Graduates will be sharing photos and videos of their watch parties using the hashtags #PowerbyPeirce and #PeirceCommencement2020. The ceremony will be livestreamed on the College’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Graduates were encouraged to submit photos of their decorated Commencement caps and videos about their education journey in advance of the ceremony.  

“We are extremely proud of Robin, Joye, Naima, Brian, and all of our graduates who came to Peirce to advance their education and their careers,” said Dr. Caro. “I am honored that Ms. Jackson could join us this year to celebrate these graduates.”


Amanda Hill 

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