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NJIT Presents Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks with Honorary Doctorate; Graduates Encouraged to ‘Dream Big’ at 101st Commencement

Rochelle Hendricks

Newark, NJ, May 22, 2017 — New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) conferred more than 2,300 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees — the largest graduating class in the university’s history — at the 101st commencement ceremony May 16 at the Prudential Center in Newark.

Rochelle Hendricks, New Jersey’s first Secretary of Higher Education, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and delivered the commencement address in which she encouraged graduates to “dream big” and to “pay it forward” by becoming involved in the community.

“I confess that I am expecting great things from you and for you,” Hendricks said. “We are all meant to shine, and I am confident that the NJIT experience releases you from your fears.”

The university also awarded honorary degrees to J. Robert Hillier, architect, principal and co-founder of Studio Hillier, and Philip L. Rinaldi, founder of Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES), who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and an honorary Doctor of Science, respectively.

NJIT President Joel S. Bloom urged the graduates to embrace the opportunity to follow NJIT alumni who throughout the university’s history have established a legacy of making significant contributions that improve the quality of life for people around the globe.

“By virtue of earning a degree from NJIT, you have demonstrated the capacity to make significant contributions to your communities and to society as a whole,” he said. “In your chosen fields and professions, endeavor to create and innovate in ways that enhance the greater good, not simply the profit margin.”

A highlight of the ceremony included the presentation of the award for “most senior alumnus” to Herman Blackman, Class of 1938, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday.

In another first, Sina Nassim, who received his bachelor’s degree in biology, proposed to his girlfriend, Zainoishi, on the arena’s Jumbotron moments before the ceremony concluded.

“Judging by her gesture, I think she said ‘yes,’” said NJIT Provost and Senior Executive Vice President Fadi P. Deek.

For more information about NJIT’s 101st Commencement ceremony, please visit www.commencement.njit.edu.