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Kean University

Kean Celebrates Graduate Class of 2024

Kean University celebrated Graduate Commencement on Tuesday, May 14, recognizing the Class of 2024 in a spirited ceremony at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. A total of 627 students earned master's or doctoral degrees, or professional diplomas, from Kean this year.

Browse downloadable photos of Kean's Graduate Commencement ceremony.

Scottish family celebrating graduation

Crowds began gathering well before the ceremony, and graduates posed for pictures with family members or classmates as they prepared for the Commencement ceremony.

"I'm very happy! I've been at Kean for five years," said Zobia Afzal, who earned her master's degree in biotechnology, after getting her Kean bachelor's degree in molecular biology last year. The future doctor, who lives in Parsippany, was accompanied by seven proud family members: her parents, two siblings, and visiting from Scotland, her aunt, uncle and cousin. "We had to come over," said her uncle, Asim Afzal. "She's the first of her generation."

Three friends at graduate commencement

Pride was evident in the smiles of friends, family members and the graduates themselves. Matthew Flores of Old Bridge, who earned his master's degree in math education, and Brandon Barbieri of Freehold, who received his in instruction and curriculum, were part of a group of eight friends – all graduating – who have been at Kean together since 2019.

"We couldn't have done it without each other. We had each other to help with study sessions. We felt like a family," Flores said. "So the accomplishment feels greater knowing that we all went through it together. "


Happy graduates wave in procession

As the stirring sounds of Pomp and Circumstance began to play, graduates marched in to take their seats in the NJPAC auditorium.

President Repollet speaking at podium

Kean President Lamont O. Repollet, Ed.D., addressed the gathering, following a welcome by Kean University Board of Trustees Chair Steve Fastook ’06H.

"You will change the world," Repollet told the graduates. "Whether in laboratories, boardrooms, healthcare settings or communities, you are equipped not only to succeed in your fields, but to transform them, in ways large and small. As you step into new beginnings, lead with courage, uphold your values, and strive to make meaningful changes wherever you go."


Abby Phillip at podium

CNN News Anchor Abby Phillip gave the Graduate Commencement Address. The anchor of CNN's NewsNight, Phillip urged the graduates to always put integrity first in their lives and careers.

"It’s not about how to be successful. It’s not about how to get the career of your dreams. It’s about the kinds of people we need more of in the world, and how you can be one of them," she said. "For most of human history, power and brute force have been the driving force of human interactions. Each one of us has an opportunity to build a better world, a world that is based on kindness. Lead with integrity. Lead with smarts. And you’ll leave the world a lot better place than you found it."

Martha Julemis graduate student government president

Graduate Student of Distinction Kristal Miller, who earned her doctoral degree in counseling and supervision, and Graduate Student Government President Martha Julemis, who earned a master's degree in biotechnology, both addressed the graduates.

"Never lose your sense of hunger for being a lifelong learner," Julemis said to her peers. "Always have empathy. Anyone can do anything, but it takes a special person to harness their unique gifts."

Handshake at graduation

And then came the main event. Graduate students' names were called one by one, and each crossed the stage to receive their degree. 

Graduate at NJPAC

The road to Commencement took students through the classroom, library or laboratory, and they spent long hours studying, doing research, or writing dissertations. Many graduates also raised families and juggled jobs while going to graduate school. Marina Nezius of Columbus, who earned her doctoral degree in educational leadership, works as a world language French teacher in Willingboro. She also received her master's degree from Kean in 2008.

"I feel so accomplished," said Nezius, who is originally from Haiti. "It was one of the most challenging tasks I have ever taken on in my life, and I can tell you, it's worth it. I'm very happy today."


A group of Kean graduates from the Graduate Class of 2024.

Kean's newest alumni will now use their advanced degrees to pursue their professional goals and build careers. The University will hold its Undergraduate Commencement on Thursday, May 16, at Prudential Center in Newark.