May 26, 2020

New York Jets Senior Vice President Fred Mangione delivers keynote address during virtual ceremony celebrating the Class of 2020

Hackettstown, N.J., May 11, 2020—Centenary University awarded degrees to 506 graduates on Saturday, May 9, at its 145th Commencement, which was held as a virtual event due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The graduates included recipients of associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees earned through the University’s campuses in Hackettstown and Parsippany.

Referring to the theme of this year’s Commencement, Super Salutem Servetis (Safety Before Tradition), Centenary University President Bruce Murphy told the graduates, “You transitioned to remote learning as you continued to strive for the goals we recognize today. It is important that the University confers its degrees upon you today, the date you have been anticipating for so long. We salute you, Class of 2020, for all that makes you unique and for your hard work and perseverance in meeting all challenges.”

Fred Mangione, senior vice president, sales and marketing, for the New York Jets, delivered the keynote address. A 1993 Centenary University graduate, Mangione said, “The Centenary University Class of 2020 will always be remembered for what it went through. I know because of that, you will be ready for any challenge that lies ahead…Remember that tough times do not last, but tough people do.”

Marissa Conroy of Mine Hill, NJ, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in English: Creative Writing, is valedictorian of the Class of 2020. In her valedictory address, Conroy emphasized that the unique trials endured by this year’s graduates have prepared them to face challenges. “We did not make it to this moment by luck,” she said. “We fought, we cried, we worked, and most importantly, we thrived. We have more strength than we may realize, and we will need to rely on this strength as we move forward into these uncertain times.” Conroy concluded that COVID-19 will not define the Class of 2020: “This (Commencement) is simply the closure of a chapter. We have so many more to write and I see a lot of great events in our future pages. We, after all, are the authors of our own stories.”

Transfer valedictorian for the Class of 2020 is Alexandria N. Costa of Blairstown, NJ. The recipient of a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration: Marketing, she transferred to Centenary after earning an associate degree from Warren County Community College. Describing how financial issues initially caused her to delay completing her bachelor’s degree, Costa said, “It doesn’t matter when you do something. If you work hard, every milestone in your life will have value. There is no set timeframe for accomplishments.”

Jennifer L. Russo of Hackettstown, NJ, also shared a reflection with the Class of 2020. “As you go forth and begin your career, remind yourself of not only the knowledge you have attained at Centenary University, but your life experience,” said Russo, the recipient of a Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling from Centenary. “Compassion and being present are essential. And remember, as Carl Jung once put it, ‘We are not what has happened to us, but what we choose to become.’”

The ceremony also included greetings from local and national officials, winners of the Decorate Your Cap contest, and virtual photos with Dr. Murphy. In organizing this year’s commencement, a priority was placed on ensuring that the Class of 2020 graduated on the date originally selected for the ceremony, according to Dr. Murphy. When it is safe for groups to gather, he has pledged to host the graduates on campus to celebrate their new status as Centenary University alumni. In addition, members of the class have also been invited to participate in the 2021 commencement ceremony.


Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township. The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs at two locations, Parsippany and Edison, as well as online and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey.

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