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Rutgers SPAA Celebrates the Class of 2022

Dean Charles E. Menifield addresses the 2022 graduates at Rutgers University–Newark’s Commencement held in person at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ on May 16.

Rutgers SPAA is proud to honor our 2022 graduates!

On May 16, more than 250 School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) graduates were honored and recognized as part of Rutgers University–Newark’s Commencement held in person at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.

SPAA Assistant Teaching Professor Dr. Lois Warner (PhD'07) carried the gonfalon for the school in the faculty procession. Remarks were made by Rutgers University–Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway, RU-N Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ashwani Monga, Senior Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Corlisse Thomas, student speaker SASN graduate Rachel Hodge, SPAA graduate Arlene Warner (BA'22), and Executive Director of the Institute of Jazz Studies Wayne Winborne.

Award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa delivered the keynote address and was given an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. An honorary Doctor of Humane Letters was also given to Wayne T. Meyer. SPAA graduate Diane Nieves (BA'22) was featured prior to Dean Charles E. Menifield awarding the degrees for the School of Public Affairs and Administration.

Preceding the university commencement ceremony, SPAA held a virtual 2022 Graduation Celebration on May 12, during which graduates, Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society inductees, 2022 SPAA Award Winners, and SPAA scholarship winners were honored. A PhD Hooding Ceremony was hosted by the RU-N Graduate School on May 17 at the Paul Robeson Campus Center.

At SPAA's graduation celebration, Dean Menifield remarked on the resilience of graduates and the unique life experiences they bring to the school. "These experiences ultimately dictate the type of role that you will play in public service," said Dr. Menifield. He went on to talk about the importance of staying engaged with SPAA as an alumnus of the school, and noted, "As a graduate of SPAA, you are one of many members of the SPAA family. Know that just as we have asked you to be here for those who come behind you, we will always be here for you as well."

Natasha Hemmings (MPA'16)

The celebration's keynote speaker was Natasha Hemmings (MPA'16), the chief executive officer for the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey. She credits SPAA with helping her to advance in her career. "My life has been forever changed because of my experience at SPAA," said Hemmings.

Dr. Warner managed the induction of 58 graduates into Pi Alpha Alpha, the global honor society for public affairs and administration. Pi Alpha Alpha encourages and recognizes outstanding scholarship and accomplishment in public affairs and administration and membership identifies students with the highest academic performance levels in educational programs. SPAA Assistant Professor Dr. Miyeon Song was inducted as an honorary member.

Following the acknowledgement of 2022 SPAA award and scholarship recipients, SPAA Director of Public Engagement Sharon Stroye (MPA'06) spoke about the achievements of the 2021-2022 SPAA Ambassadors and the graduating ambassadors were acknowledged. Dr. Menifield then closed out the celebration by extending congratulations and well wishes to the graduates.

SPAA Grads 2022

As part of our celebration of our 2022 graduating students, we are pleased to share some of their personal stories.