Rutgers Graduation 2016 with President Obama

Rutgers University enjoyed its first presidential commencement speaker on May 15, at the New Brunswick campus graduation ceremony with President Obama.

President Barack Obama gave an intellectual speech at Rutgers New Brunswick’s Graduation 2016!

Brandon Major and his proud father. Photo courtesy of Brandon Major.

As Rutgers New Brunswick students gathered for another year last September, a different feeling filled the atmosphere. The State School of New Jersey, nestled within a mazy grid of New Jersey highways, was experiencing the start of its 250th year as a school. This makes Rutgers University the eighth oldest learning institution in the United States, even older than the country it is in. That buzz hasn’t left the air all year. These students found ways to be proud of their school. Be it the construction of the beautiful and modern Honors College residence halls or the successes of the various sports teams, Rutgers as a university was smiling.

When the rumors started circulating that President Barack Obama would speak at the 250th Commencement Ceremony, the collective attitude amongst Rutgers students was one of doubt. Why would the President pick our school to speak at, at the very end of his term? Well, he did. A couple of weeks after it was announced that Bill Moyers, a legendary broadcast journalist would be the commencement speaker, Rutgers University was treated to a surprise acceptance to speak at commencement on May 15th by Barack Obama, the President of the United States. If Rutgers wasn’t already alight with historic pride, it was now.

The entire student body felt a surge of honor when this was announced. One proud student, Brandon Major, is a graduating senior at Rutgers, and his experiences at the university define what it means to be part of the Rutgers community. Brandon is from Belleville, NJ, and is graduating with a major in criminal justice. As with many incoming Rutgers students, Brandon said he “was welcomed to the Rutgers family when I went to my overnight orientation in July of 2012”. Over the course of his next few years at Rutgers, Brandon felt the ups and downs that only college can provide.

“Rutgers has pushed me a lot. From my first year finishing with a 2.1 and not wanting to go back to finishing up with 3.0 at the time of graduation”. Brandon added, “My high school wasn’t the best in preparing me for the school, but with tutoring and studying I managed to graduate on time.”

High schools are notorious for being unable to properly prepare their students for the workload and atmosphere of college. While this can be said for many people, high school students looking to Rutgers as the next place on their journey should not fear. This university has a way of including everyone, regardless of how confident or nervous you are going into college. This collective atmosphere gives every student the feeling of being a part of something bigger.

On graduating, Brandon says “I found myself and who I wanted to be at Rutgers. The school will make it easy for you to find yourself and what you want because it promotes individuality. I feel great graduating from Rutgers, I feel like I’m apart of a family that has done great things.”

Photo courtesy of Brandon Major.

Obama’s decision to speak at Rutgers evidence towards that feeling of family. The effort to get Obama to speak at the colleges 250th commencement was a collective one from all at the university. As soon as the student body got wind that it will happen, every student voiced their will and hope that Obama would make this year even more special for them. President of Rutgers, Robert Barchi, said “His decision is a testament to the enthusiastic efforts of Rutgers students, faculty, staff, alumni, and board members.”

Brandon described seeing President Obama speak as “by far, the most surreal moment of my life”.

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