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Peirce College Celebrates Class of 2021 with Virtual Commencement Ceremony

Jun 9, 2021, 14:42 PM by Amanda Hill
Peirce Commencement-2021
Class of 2021 includes 307 graduates with an average age of 39, most from the Greater Philadelphia Region 

PHILADELPHIA, June 9, 2021 — They soldiered through a pandemic and remained focused during a turbulent election season. They balanced children, jobs, and community responsibilities. They advocated for justice and demanded a voice for the oppressed. And through it all, the Peirce College Class of 2021 persevered to become college graduates.

On Thursday, July 10th, at 6:45pm, Peirce will hold its 156th Commencement Ceremony in a virtual format, to honor and recognize the achievements, sacrifices, and sheer tenacity of this graduating class. 

“The Class of 2021 has demonstrated that they have what it takes to succeed despite unprecedented challenges,” said Dr. Mary Ellen Caro, Peirce College President & CEO. “As adult learners, they faced a myriad of challenges as they balanced their busy lives with the rigorous academic demands of their respective programs. They were then forced to complete their studies in the middle of a pandemic. They are truly inspirational.”

With an average age of 39, the Peirce Class of 2021 includes eight graduates over the age of 60. 57% of graduates identify as Black or African American.

Graduates include:

  • Adrienne Holiday-Singletary, a SEPTA employee and mother of two who needed a college degree to advance. After watching her daughters graduate from college, she knew that now it was her turn to complete the degree she wanted.
  • Jinette Cabrera, a single mother of two and essential employee who found a way to balance, work, school, and family during the pandemic.

Renée Byng Yancey ’90, Senior Vice President, External Workforce & Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategies at The American Institute of Architects, will be this year’s keynote speaker. Born and raised in North Philadelphia, Byng Yancey is a Peirce alumna and member of the Board of Trustees. She leads a team spanning the architectural education continuum of K-12-higher education, organizational EDI strategies, Women in Architecture, and the Center for Emerging Professionals. She and her team work to expand career pathways into architecture and design, fostering positive firm and practice culture, and inclusive community engagement. Ms. Byng Yancey partners with colleagues across the AIA and the component system working at the intersections of equitable communities, climate action, brand and engagement, and government advocacy.

Previously, Ms. Byng Yancey was Chief Operating Officer of Equal Measure. She led cradle to career client engagements and oversaw a team of senior leaders and consultants. She also held a joint appointment with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation serving as National Program Director for New Connections—a program for public health faculty and researchers.

The student keynote address will be provided by Carl McKenzie, Sr., who is graduating with his Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies. Mr. McKenzie retired from Philadelphia Gas Works after 33 years of service as a Senior Bankruptcy Representative and hopes to use his degree for a second career. He is a member of the Legal Studies Student Association and a member of the Lambda Epsilon Chi Honor Society. He graduates alongside his sister-in-law, Rhonda Smith, and joins his wife Cheryle (Class of 1998) in the Peirce College Alumni Association.

The Class of 2021 includes the first graduates of the Associate in Science in Leadership Development and Certificate of Proficiency in Customer Service Management programs.

Each of the 307 graduates will be featured on a slide and hear their name called 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 #PeirceCommencement2021. 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 advice videos in advance of the ceremony.  

“We are extremely proud of Carl, Adrienne, Jinette, and all of the graduates who came to Peirce to advance their education and their careers,” said Dr. Caro. “I am thankful that Ms. Byng Yancey could join us this year to celebration the extraordinary accomplishments of the Class of 2021.”


Amanda Hill 

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