78th Commencement Ceremonies Celebrate Unique Journey of Class of 2024

Bryan Terry, Assistant Director of Content Marketing & Communications


May 21, 2024 — Marist’s riverfront campus buzzed with energy this weekend as the 78th Commencement ceremonies celebrated 1,600 graduates from the Class of 2024. On Saturday, traditional undergraduates received their Bachelor’s degrees, while Friday evening honored adult undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students.

This year’s graduates entered Marist under circumstances like no other class before them, as the global pandemic of 2020 marked the beginning of their academic experience. Yet, faced with this challenge, optimism prevailed as students persevered, making their mark on the Marist community and the wider world around them.

Addressing the graduates, President Kevin Weinman said: “You’ve shown you can be engaged with the world around you while still showing care and concern for each other and for the Marist community as a whole.

“For all you’ve been through, I say ‘live it up’ today! You, more than anyone, have earned it.”

Image of President Weinman addressing graduates.
President Weinman addresses graduates at the 78th Commencement ceremonies. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.

Award-winning sports columnist and author Christine Brennan addressed the graduating class and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. She passed along life lessons she received from her parents to the graduating class.

“Working harder than the person next to you will never go out of style,” Brennan said. “Hard work, dedication to the task, cooperation, kindness, and respect for others—what worked in 1964 worked in 1994 works in 2024 and will work in 2054.”

Brennan’s trailblazing career has spanned over four decades and included authorship of seven books, including national best-seller Inside Edge: A Revealing Journey into the Secret World of Figure Skating, named by Sports Illustrated as one of the 100 best sports books of all time.

Image of Christine Brennan addressing graduates.
Sports writer Christine Brennan addresses graduates at 78th Commencement ceremonies. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.

Brennan began her career as the first woman sportswriter for the Miami Herald, and soon after joined the Washington Post, where she covered the National Football League, again the first woman to hold that position. The Associated Press has named her one of the nation’s top 10 sports columnists three times.

“There will always be naysayers out there, always someone telling you that someone who looks like you can’t do this, someone from your hometown or your native country can’t do that,” Brennan said. “Ignore, block, mute. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. You’re in control of your wonderful life, not them.”




Class Valedictorian Emma Spiro, who earned her degree in psychology with a minor in social work, delivered an inspiring speech highlighting the unique nature of the journey she and her classmates went through over the last four years.

“How cool is it, though, that we were able to adjust our lives in such dramatic ways—even as new pandemic-related restrictions were put in place,” she said. “Our college story might have begun in an unconventional way but now that story is ours—only ours—and I think we turned out alright.”

Image of Valedictorian Emma Spiro addressing graduates.
Valedictorian Emma Spiro addresses graduates at the 78th Commencement ceremonies.

The Academic Achievement Award Ceremony took place on Friday, honoring student recipients of Baccalaureate Awards and Honors Medals. Dr. Catherine Gunther Kodat, Provost and Dean of Faculty, led the ceremony where students from each school as well as the Office for Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, and Alumni Association, were recognized.

Faculty and staff were also awarded for excellence in research, pedagogy, academic enrichment, and advising.

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A Special Photo Op

Image of Class of 2024.

Each academic year on move-in day, incoming first-year students take a class photo, showing their excitement about becoming the newest Red Foxes. The Class of 2024 was unable to have this moment in 2020 due to the pandemic. It’s rare for the entire class to be in one place, so we took advantage of the opportunity, taking a photo of the Class of 2024 from a drone above. Photo by Bobby Oliver/Marist College.

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