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York College Recognizes Students in First Hybrid Graduation Event

June 07, 2021
A Spring 2021 graduate smiling at the camera that was filming the hybrid commencement event.

In a year that required students to adapt and find opportunities for resilience, the 2021 York College of Pennsylvania graduates are embarking on their futures with new energy.

The class of 2021 experienced a year full of unpredictable changes. They met each challenge together, with compassion and community to unify them.

On May 7, 2021, York College of Pennsylvania recognized the multicultural representation of students during its Kente Ceremony. On May 15, 2021, students walked across the stage to be recognized for their accomplishments, and on May 22, 2021, their families tuned in to celebrate their hard work in a virtual ceremony.

“You have demonstrated courage, perseverance, and resilience. What I call, my brand of CPR,” said Dr. Pamela Gunter-Smith, President at York College, as she addressed students. “In doing so, you have proven that you have everything you need to be successful.”

Commencement welcomed Zac Clark ’06, who founded Release Recovery in New York and was on the most recent season of The Bachelorette. His celebrity status gave him access to a wider audience and a chance to share his own story of addiction and recovery.

“I thought about this group of graduates, and I couldn’t help but think about the ways you all have been robbed of that traditional college experience,” he said. “But then, I realized this group of graduates is more prepared to go out into the real world than any class that has really come before them.”

Clark recognized students for maintaining community and connection in ways that no one could have imagined. It was those two things that helped him recover as an addict and forced him to rebuild his life.

“My challenge to you is to try to find some hope in my story, and to understand that much like you, at one point in my life, I was feeling very sorry for myself,” he says. “My challenge is to wear this COVID-19 existence like a badge of honor…Know that you’ve been through something together. You have this common bond.”

Graduates say goodbye

Molly Thate ’21 Human Services: “York College taught me how to be a leader and helped me find my voice. I learned many things, but most importantly, how to advocate for myself and others.”

Ben Sheibley ’21 Integrated Marketing Communication: “I will definitely miss being able to always have a massive support system surrounding me 24/7. But, I'm looking forward to being able to move to a different place. I went to York from Massachusetts because I love the idea of going to new locations, and now I am looking for jobs all over the country.”

Jonathan Mack ’21 Criminal Justice: “York College showed me the amount of grit and determination that I have within me to overcome the biggest obstacles. I am excited to attend University of Maryland Law School in the fall and use everything that I have learned at York College to excel in my future.”