At 9:30 a.m. on May 13, 2021, SC&I launched its graduation website, specially designed to celebrate and honor the 1,300 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students who earned degrees from SC&I this year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, SC&I’s convocation ceremony was held virtually, as were other Rutgers University graduation ceremonies held this month.
SC&I’s dedicated website hosts four separate graduation videos, or "ceremonies" created for undergraduate Communication majors, Information Technology and Informatics majors, Journalism and Media Studies majors, and graduate students. Each video includes prerecorded greetings and congratulatory messages from Associate Dean of Administration Karen Novick; Dean Jonathan Potter; Katrina Zwaaf, president of the SC&I Alumni Association; remarks from six student speakers; and Assistant Dean of Student Services Kevin Ewell.
The website also hosts individual images for every graduating student which includes their names and degree information. Audio was embedded for each image that “calls out” their names individually.
Each video also includes special greetings from each department. The video for Communication majors includes messages from Professor and Chair of the Communication Department Lea Stewart; Director of Undergraduate Studies in Communication and Associate Teaching Professor Brian Householder, and two student speakers, Troy DeSavino ‘21 and Luna Laliberte ’21.
The video for ITI majors includes video greetings from Chair and Professor of Library and Information Science Maria Radford, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Information Technology and Informatics and Assistant Teaching Professor Warren Allen, and student speaker Suraj Verma ‘21.
The video for the JMS majors includes graduation-day messages from Professor and Chair of the Journalism and Media Studies Department Amy Jordan, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Professor of Professional Practice Steven Miller, and student speaker Chloe Tai ‘21.
In addition to these three videos for undergraduates, Director of the Ph.D. Program and Professor of Communication Jennifer Theiss hosts a virtual celebration for graduate students. On this video Director of the Master of Communication and Media and Master of Health Communication and Information Richard Dool and Director of the Master of Information program and Associate Teaching Professor Lilia Pavlovsky send special greetings to graduate students, and two student speakers address the graduates: Master of Communication and Media student Casey Randazzo, ‘21 and Master of Information student Jennifer Coffman ’21.
After the last student’s name is called, SC&I faculty and staff cheer for the graduates and everyone is invited to sing along to Rutgers’ song, or alma mater, “On the Banks of the Old Raritan” while watching scenes of the Rutgers New Brunswick campus.
SC&I also encouraged the students to celebrate along with the school all during May 13 by hosting watch parties with their families and friends and by visiting the virtual convocation photo booth on the graduation website, which enabled students to upload a photo of themselves and place it “on location” at SC&I by choosing from a variety of backgrounds featuring photos of SC&I.
To further personalize the virtual ceremony, SC&I mailed a small gift to each graduate’s home address prior to the launch of the virtual ceremony, the same gift they would have received had the graduation been held in person.
Leading up to May 13 and during the day, SC&I also celebrated graduation through its posts to social media, and the school invited graduates to share their own posts by using the hashtag #SCIConvocation2021.
Faculty and staff members also posted graduation messages to Twitter ahead of May 13, including Teaching Professor of Communication and Information Mary Chayko, Assistant Dean for Development Rob Eccles, Assistant Dean of Student Services, Lauren Gagliardi, Associate Professor Regina Marchi, Professor John Pavlik, and others.
Two SC&I graduates were also featured in the Rutgers University-New Brunswick 2021 Commencement Program Book, posted online for Rutgers University-New Brunswick's graduation held virtually May 16, 2021.
The two, Larissa Valentina Brulato, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Media Studies, and Dmytro Zholobak who earned a Bachelor of Arts in Information Technology and Informatics and minored in Digital Communication, Information and Media Minor (DCIM), were profiled as part of the university’s “Welcome Road to Graduation” opening exercise.