he university hosted a virtual Commencement ceremony on Tuesday, August 25 to celebrate graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences, Schools of Communications and Education. The university hosted additional ceremonies on Thursday, August 27 for the Schools of Business, Engineering, Health Sciences and Nursing. Coverage of each of those ceremonies are below.

Congratulations to each graduate for all you have and continue to accomplish!

Arts & Sciences, Communications and Education Ceremony

Marta Tellado

Marta Tellado

President and CEO of Consumer Reports

Graduates urged to seize the opportunity to better the world

Graduates of Quinnipiac’s College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Communications and School of Education were urged to use the disruption that is shaping the world to write new rules and imagine new possibilities during the virtual Commencement ceremony on August 25.

“Today, amid all the destruction and pain, the upside is that the slate is being wiped clean for you, just as it was for me when I landed in this new place [from Cuba)] with a new language and new possibilities,” Marta L. Tellado, president and CEO and Consumer Reports, told the graduates. “You’re being liberated from any nostalgia you may be forced to feel about the way things have been done in the past.”

Tellado, the ceremony’s keynote speaker, described “yesterday’s world” as slow to advance and riddled with countless failures — from ignoring climate change to systemic racism to the proliferation of misinformation. 

“You’re now the ones who have the opportunity — the obligation — to replace those things with better things, more just things,” she said. “Our world has screeched to a halt, and that’s frightening — but it also gives us finally a chance to open the doors and kick those things out before we get moving again.”

The graduates were told that they are part of a generation that can have an enormous impact on our collective future.

“In the story of progress, in America and around the world, it has always, always been younger generations rising out of challenging moments like this who have brought about the most extraordinary periods of change — and that’s going to be true for you, if you make it true,” Tellado said. “Whatever it is you do, you have a role to play in making those generational changes. You are powerful together in ways you can’t even imagine.”

She told the graduates that they need the courage and agility to navigate this course because there is no prescribed path.

“You have a rare opportunity to shape a new world — one built on truth and science, on universal dignity and respect, equity and opportunity, and sustainability and mutual care,” Tellado said. “Your job is to be the hope. How are you going to do that and use the incredible tools you’ve picked up?”

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Kailee Heffler

Kailee Heffler '20, MS '21

Bachelor of Arts, School of Communications

Kailee Heffler ’20, MS ’21, a journalism graduate from the School of Communications, urged her fellow graduates to not allow fear to prevent them from changing the world for the better.

“Quinnipiac taught us to take the fear we felt and make opportunities out of it,” she said. “Quinnipiac taught us fear should be used as a motivation to step outside of our comfort zones — and to take risks. But, most importantly, Quinnipiac taught us to take the fear we have felt and turn it into fearlessness.”

She urged her fellow grads to transform the fear they feel now into action.

“Use it to apply for a job you think you won’t get, or use it to move across the country to chase your dreams,” she implored. “Remember all that Quinnipiac has taught us and remember to be fearless as we take on the next chapter in our lives.”



Elyssa Wrubel '20

Bachelor of Arts, College of Arts and Sciences


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Elyssa Wrubel ’20, an English graduate from the College of Arts and Sciences, credited Quinnipiac with building the foundations from which she and her fellow graduates will make the world a better place.

“We are now able to recognize inequalities — be they mathematical or social — and to articulate injustices within our own society,” she said. “We have delved into conversations and observations and hands-on work that have provided us the space to engage in experiential learning within and across disciplines. And this is precisely what has allowed us to flourish.”

She assured members of the class that success will come once they have invested in something that excites them.

“Before you can give the world what it needs, you must first figure out what you need,” Wrubel said. “And don’t settle.”

Cynthia Clement

Cynthia Clement, MAT ’20

Master of Arts in Teaching, School of Education

Cynthia Clemente, MAT ’20, assured her fellow graduates they were well down the path toward success.

“Take pride in your little successes, but do not dwell on the minor inconveniences,” she said. “We have shown that we can persevere through the toughest obstacles life has a dealt. Through adversity and hardship, we showcase our ability to adapt at moment’s notice. May you continue to lead by example and serve as an inspiration to all those around you.”

Health Sciences and Nursing Ceremony

Graduates urged to ‘meet fear with courage’

Quinnipiac School of Health Sciences and School of Nursing graduates were urged to not just restore patients’ health, but to treat the full patient at their August 27 virtual Commencement ceremony.

James E. Shmerling, president and CEO of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, addressed the graduates as the keynote speaker. He told the newest health care providers that the COVID-19 pandemic is showcasing what it means to truly offer patient-centered care.

“We must not only restore our patients to health, but do what we can to preserve it,” said Shmerling. “That means stepping out of our traditional medical model and challenging the status quo.”


James E. Shmerling

President and CEO of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center

“We are hearing countless stories about the amazing support being provided by hospital staffs all over the country — who are risking their own safety to take care of others,” Shmerling said. “In many cases, because of the limitations of visitors, the care team is providing not only clinical care but also becoming an extended family member. In some cases, they become the confidant of the patients and their families, often carrying messages to and from the patient. In some cases, they hold the hand of the patient who is taking their last breath so the patient won’t die alone. They put aside their own personal fears and courageously support the patient and their family.”

COVID-19 is “a magnifier of inequality,” Shmerling said. “This pandemic is amplifying preexisting social inequities that are tied to race, class and access to our health care system.”

He urged everyone in the health care arena to have the courage to continue learning and improving upon their skills so they could improve the industry as a whole.

“It’s your turn now to accept the challenges in front of you, meet fear with courage, and, above all, remain hopeful,” Shmerling said. “Create a new normal. You’re ready. You have a degree from Quinnipiac. You are now armed with the tools you need to make a difference. We are all counting on you.”

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Judy D. Olian, PhD

President of Quinnipiac University

President Judy D. Olian reminded the graduates that they are starting the next chapter of their lives with a set of skills, perspectives and leadership qualities not taught in the classroom, but instead born out of adversity with bonds that connect them as a graduating class.

“While COVID will certainly not define your years here at Quinnipiac, it has taught you something about resilience, about changing course when needed, about controlling what you can control and building ‘what if’ scenarios for the parts that you don’t control, about leaning on others for support when needed, and offering strength to others when they need it,” she said. “Those are important building blocks toward becoming a leader.”

She said some people go through their entire careers without developing those qualities.

“So, yes, there’s a silver lining in this crisis — in what it has taught us about ourselves, forced us to uncover within ourselves, and brought us closer in giving each other support and strength,” she said. “Let’s not lose those qualities or lessons. Let’s use them to help improve the lives of the people and communities around you.”

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Briana Stockdale, MHS ’20

MHS in Physician Assistant, School of Health Sciences

Briana Nicole Stockdale, MHS ’20, a physician assistant graduate and president of the graduate student council, said many of the most rewarding experiences in college came from stepping out of her comfort zone.

“Class of 2020: I challenge you to use all the skills, knowledge, and experience you have gained to become comfortable with being uncomfortable,” she told her fellow graduates. “If I have learned anything at all, it is opportunities will quickly pass us by if we sit where we feel safe, in that place we call our comfort zone. There is so much personal growth that will come from going beyond our comfort zone, from doing the things that may seem terrifying at first.”

She told her peers that they are all much more capable than they realize, but they won’t come to realizing their true potential if they don’t challenge themselves.

“Life would be boring without challenges and, if everything were easy, then everyone would be doing the same thing. Here is another way to think of it — our comfort zones are the training wheels and we have proven that we can ride a bike without them,” she said. “So push yourself to take on the unknown, lean into things that are uncomfortable, and don’t hold yourself back and rip off those training wheels!”

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Meghan Coakley ’20, a nursing graduate, told her fellow graduates that Quinnipiac has given them a passion to never give up their dreams.

“A piece of my heart will always be at QU,” she said. “How lucky I am to make saying ‘I’ll see you later,’ so hard. Because it is not good-bye; we will be back. We are always a part of Bobcat Nation.”

She said it was very fitting that 2020 has been called the year of the nurse.

“When our grandkids ask us about 2020, sure we can say it was the year the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak, but it is also the year which we graduated college and finally became Registered Nurses and health care professionals. And no one can take that away from us,” she said.


Meghan Coakley ’20

Bachelor of Science, School of Nursing

“To the Class of 2020: Strength, diligence and perseverance have delivered you to this graduation day. It has been your character and spirit with the commitment to moving forward despite challenges in the social world and an unprecedented pandemic, that have allowed us today’s congratulations,” Coakley said. “Keep shining Bobcats — forever and always. We are Bobcat Strong.”

Business and Engineering Ceremony

Graduates reminded that their resiliency will be their key to success

The School of Business and School of Engineering Class of 2020 was assured during their virtual Commencement ceremony that their experiences over the past few months will prepare them well for the challenges they will confront throughout their lives.

Don Desiderato ’84, a former Fortune 100 executive, founder of Mantissa Group, LLC, told his fellow alumni that the resiliency that they have developed often takes decades to build.

“As a new Quinnipiac grad, I want to encourage you to have optimism,” said Desiderato, who also serves on the School of Business Advisory Board.  “I promise you that there will be jobs for you, our profession is in a renaissance right now, and you’ve had great training. Sure, you may have to look a little harder, or widen your search, but they are there. Use that great education that you’ve gotten and merge that education with your newly found resilience. Perhaps being an entrepreneur is not such a bad idea, use the resources at the university to help you, call former students who are embedded in their careers, and hey, give me a call as I’m happy to help.”


Don Desiderato '84

Former Fortune 100 executive and founder of Mantissa Group LLC and member of the School of Business Advisory Board

He reassured the graduates that they were ready to begin their journey — while reflecting on the successes and set-backs he has experienced throughout his life.

“Like mine, your life journey will be uniquely yours, with ups and downs — but it's yours,” he said. “Enjoy the journey, and I am deeply optimistic of your success. I believe in you, and I believe in your success.”

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President Judy D. Olian urged the graduates to share their blessings and give back to their communities.

“As you go forth as Quinnipiac alumni, I encourage you to help others as you have been helped along the way, whether mentoring future generations who follow you, becoming leaders in corporations or community organizations, or tending to residents who really need your talents and compassion,” she said. 

She also implored the Class of 2020 to remain curious and open to growing and learning.

“I’ve learned most from people who are very different from me, with dissimilar skills and talents, world views, upbringing, or who were born into very different life circumstances,” she said. “Be open to those differences, and learn from them. In our rapidly changing world, we don’t know what we’ll need to know in 10 years, or even in five years. What we do know is that to be successful and enlightened, we must be lifelong learners.”

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Zachary Cyran ’20 told his fellow graduates that they have flown into a fresh new era with endless possibilities. 

“I was able to meet so many incredible people at my four years at Quinnipiac,” the business major said. “Everyone here can agree that the school has been very supportive of its students and their ambitions.”

He urged his fellow grads to be ambitious and not be afraid of something because it is difficult.

“Quinnipiac has taught us that you can get there by outworking your rivals and being more creative in your approach,” Cyran said.


Zachary Cyran '20

Bachelor of Science, School of Business

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Megan Donnelly '20

Bachelor of Science, School of Engineering

Megan Donnelly said that although she and her fellow grads missed out the many rites of passages that Quinnipiac graduates generally get to celebrate, she said that there were also many silver linings.

She quoted the emperor in the movie "Mulan," who said, "The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all." Donnelly declared that the Class of 2020 is like that flower that bloomed, by overcoming all the difficulties, stress of adapting to life during the pandemic.

"Because of that, we are stronger for it and more dynamic for it, we are more effective for it and we are the best we can be because of it," she said.


“To the Class of 2020: Always remember that there is a great big beautiful tomorrow, and it’s shining at the end of every day,” said Donnelly.

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