Peirce College Celebrates the Class of 2023

Jun 9, 2023, 09:48 AM by Amanda Hill
Peirce College Celebrates the Class of 2023
Pennsylvania’s only college dedicated to adult learners celebrates the accomplishments of 316 graduates at in-person ceremony

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Brimming with determination, tenacity and grit, the members of the Peirce College Class of 2023 have made it. Persevering through a pandemic, and the challenges of remote work, unexpected homeschooling, isolation, and more, the graduating class of 316 adult and nontraditional learners chose to prove what’s possible.

And on Friday, June 9th, they will get their moment on stage to be honored for what they have accomplished.

Peirce College will hold its 158th Commencement at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on South Broad Street to celebrate these dedicated students. Two ceremonies will be held to ensure all students in this large graduating class have their moment to shine.

“The Class of 2023 have faced tremendous adversity to get where they are today,” said Dr. Mary Ellen Caro, Peirce College President & CEO. “While balancing the unexpected demands of the pandemic, they completed a rigorous academic schedule and have earned the credentials that will help them realize their personal and professional goals. We are honored to call them Peirce graduates.”

With an average age of 39, the Peirce Class of 2023 includes 62 graduates over the age of 50. In addition, 74 percent of graduates identify as women, and 53 percent of graduates identify as Black or African American.

Graduates include:

  • Rochelle S. Gordon, who started her college journey more than 30 years ago. After raising three girls and putting the first two through college, she realized it was time to realize her own dreams and finish her degree. Gordon currently serves as the Office Manager and Chief of Staff to Philadelphia Councilmember Sharon Vaughn. She will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies.
  • Victoria Huggins Peurifoy, who persevered through a battle with COVID-19 that was complicated by pneumonia and a virus in her bloodstream. Peurifoy retired from the Internal Revenue Service in 2007 and decided to finally finish the degree she started back in the early 90s. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership & Management.
  • Kahil Hinton, who graduates with his master’s degree in Organizational Leadership & Management. He is a three-time graduate of Peirce, having previously earned his bachelor’s and associate degrees in Information Technology. During his program, he became a caregiver for his mother – a fellow Peirce alum – as she struggled through severe COVID-19 complications. However, through the help of his professors, he managed to stay on track and graduate.

    The Class of 2023 includes the largest ever cohort of graduate students, the first four graduates of the College’s new Master of Science in Higher Education Leadership, 20 graduates of the College’s innovative Career Bridge program, and 10 graduates from the College’s partnership with JetBlue.

    In addition, nineteen students are graduating with more than one credential, utilizing the College’s stackable program model to build out their resumes and demonstrate their skillsets.

    Sheila Ireland, president & CEO of Philadelphia OIC will serve as keynote speaker at each ceremony. With more than 25 years of experience leading human resources, training and workforce development in the non-profit, healthcare, consulting, government, and manufacturing fields, Ms. Ireland is well known for developing programs that improve organizational performance and achieve bottom-line results. Previously, Ms. Ireland served as the Deputy Secretary, Workforce Development at the Department of Labor and Industry for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where she oversaw Pennsylvania’s public workforce development system. Her purview included oversight of a staff of 600+ employees and management of a $270M+ annual budget that was utilized to grow Pennsylvania’s workforce and increase workers’ access to well-paying jobs.

    She previously served as the Executive Director of Workforce Development for the City of Philadelphia, where she managed Philadelphia’s first citywide workforce strategy, “Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine.” In this position, she coordinated strategy and communication between local government, education, and training programs, along with employers and service providers to create opportunities for vulnerable populations. She was also the founding director of the University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative and launched UCD’s first social venture, Green City Works.

    Student keynote addresses will be given at each ceremony by the following graduates:

  • 12 p.m. Ceremony: Frances Leggareta, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management, has spent decades working in the financial service industry in training and development, compliance, and regulatory analysis. As a lifelong advocate for philanthropic giving, Frances has spent more than 25 years utilizing her bilingual skills in Spanish and English while volunteering with faith-based and non-profit organizations. She was able to apply her years of experience and previously earned college credits to earn her bachelor’s degree in less than two years.
  • 3:30 p.m. Ceremony: Shaneice A. Blake, graduating with a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership and Management with a concentration in Non-Profit Leadership, works as a fulltime school safety officer for the School District of Philadelphia School and is the mother of a ten-year-old boy. She is the first person in her family to attend college, having previously earned an Associate in Science degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Studies from Peirce College. She also serves as the president of the Graduate Student Association. She believes that her life’s purpose is to promote the success of others, and plans to use that philosophy in her career after graduation

While many of the 316 graduates will attend in person, those unable to celebrate at the theater are invited to join the livestream on the College’s YouTube channel, as slides with all graduate names will be shown. Graduates will be sharing photos and videos of their watch parties using the hashtags #PoweredbyPeirce and #PeirceCommencement2023.

Additionally, graduates were encouraged to submit photos of their decorated Commencement caps and congrats videos in advance of the ceremony. 

“We are extremely proud of Rochelle, Victoria, Kahil, Frances, and Shaneice, and all of the graduates who came to Peirce to advance their education and their careers,” said Dr. Caro. “I am also thankful to Ms. Ireland for helping us celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of the Class of 2023.”

Media contact:

Amanda Hill

Request Information Image

Looking For Program-
Specific Information?