Goodwin University Commencement Ceremony Celebrates Class of 2023

On Saturday, June 3, 2023, the Goodwin University Commencement Ceremony took place at Dunkin’ Park in Hartford, Connecticut. The ceremony celebrated the Class of 2023, who resiliently persevered in their pursuit of higher education.

Attended by staff, faculty, and the friends and families of graduates, the Commencement began at 4 p.m. The ceremony started with an introduction by Faculty Senate president Phillip Fox, who announced the Bell Ceremony— the annual start of the Processional. The bell was rung by valedictorian Damaris Elizabeth Florian, BS in Business Administration.

Following the Goodwin University Board of Trustees and Goodwin Foundation Board of Directors, the Class of 2023 walked the field to “Pomp and Circumstance,” accompanied by the proud cheering of eager attendees. After the Class of 2023 took their seats, Michael Pardales, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, delivered welcoming remarks.

Pardales introduced Clifford Thermer, Dean of the School of Business, Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing, who delivered the ceremony’s invocation, which was followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Goodwin alumni Shane Davis (BS Human Services, ‘17).

Welcoming remarks were then offered by Board of Trustees Chair Maria Ellis, MD, and Goodwin University president Mark E. Scheinberg. In his remarks, Scheinberg emphasized the great potential held by every Goodwin graduate. “Sitting where you are,” Scheinberg stated, “everything in front of you is a canvas. You can make a painting of any sort you care to make.”

Scheinberg stressed the importance of using one’s education not only for personal benefit, but to better the lives of others as well. “You’re considered college graduates now,” he remarked, “which brings you an lot of privilege. Your job is to turn around and make sure you use the privilege in a way that elevates those around you and makes of your community something more because you live there.”

President Scheinberg then introduced Senator Richard Blumenthal, who offered his congratulations to the Class of 2023, extending a special thanks to Goodwin’s student-veterans and Veteran Services Coordinator Craig Jordan.

Blumenthal further commented on the perseverance of the Class of 2023, who pursued higher education in the face of a global pandemic, a national mental health crisis, and other frightening and uncertain times. “You have proven, Class of 2023,” Blumenthal offered, “that you have all the makings of the next Greatest Generation.”

President Scheinberg and Maria Ellis then returned to confer the honorary doctoral degrees of JoAnn H. Price, cofounder of and managing partner of Fairview Capital, and Ben Crump, renowned American jurist and Civil Rights lawyer. Both honorary degree recipients delivered their remarks to the Class of 2023.

Price extended her congratulations to the graduates, reminding them of the importance of maintaining humility throughout their professional journeys. “Be sure to be able to extend to others what you have been able to accomplish,” Price advised.

Ben Crump then addressed the Class of 2023, advising graduates to continue defying adversity as they leave their own unique marks on the world. “It’s not enough to dream at night while you slumber,” Crump offered “You must dream every day with your eyes wide open.”

Following Crump’s address, President Scheinberg introduced student speaker Leslie Argueta Linares, BS in Human Services. Speaking of her experiences as a first-generation immigrant, Linares emphasized the importance of remaining resilient.

“Class of 2023,” she offered, “give yourself a round of applause. Getting a degree — whether it’s a certificate, associate, bachelor’s, or master’s — is incredibly hard, and we don’t talk about that enough. A lot of sacrifices are required, especially when you’re a first-generation student, an inner-city student, a traditional age student, a non-traditional student, a veteran student, DACA students, and dreamers.”

Following Linares, Master of Education graduate Margaret Guillory-Allen offered her remarks. “For people like myself and many others,” she recounted, “Goodwin is a school of second chances.” Recalling her journey from struggling with addiction to earning her master’s, Guillory-Allen emphasized how the supportive environment at Goodwin University helps foster student success. Following Guillory-Allen’s remarks, the Awarding of Degrees and Certificates began. The Conferral was led by Michael Pardales, Clifford Thermer, Dean of the School of Applied Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Diana J. LaRocco, and Interim Dean of Nursing and Health Professions Vivienne Friday. Over 300 certificate and degree recipients came forward to the celebratory sound of applause and cheers — proudly accepting the credential they worked so hard to earn.

For more information about Goodwin University’s Commencement ceremony, visit