NEWPORT — Salve Regina University recently celebrated not one, but three commencement ceremonies — one each for the Graduate and Undergraduate Classes of 2021, as well as a special ceremony for members of the Class of 2020 who were unable to walk in-person last year. All three ceremonies took place in the customary Salve fashion: on the Cliff Walk, beneath the shade of a lofty white tent. This long-standing tradition had been interrupted last year when the pandemic forced Salve to temporarily pivot to a virtual ceremony.
This year’s commencement exercises began on May 6 with the Graduate members of Salve Regina’s Class of 2021: 264 students, including 13 doctoral candidates. Among the new Ph.D.s and D.N.P.s was Olivia Krampen, who also served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony. This was not Krampen’s first trip across the Salve stage; she received both her B.S. and M.S. in Nursing from the school, and used her address to reflect upon the decade she had spent with the university.
“I often get asked why I decided to stay at the same university for all three of my degrees,” Krampen said. “Why not? I love Salve, and all of you sitting before me know exactly what I mean. Salve is a hidden gem that thrives on the ability to pay specialized attention to the needs of its unique and diverse student population.”
The Undergraduate Ceremony began on May 8 with a “Car Parade” along Bellevue Avenue and its environs. Later that afternoon, Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans celebrated the Baccalaureate Mass with the 546 members of the Class of 2021 and their families. The Commencement Ceremony itself took place the next day; the theme of Seahawk loyalty introduced by Krampen was echoed by Valedictorian Samantha Rivera, who will follow up the B.S. in Marketing awarded to her in this ceremony with an M.B.A. from Salve next year.
The final ceremony of the week, held May 16, was perhaps the most poignant — not the least because it was a year in the making. Although a virtual ceremony was conducted last year, this Sunday afforded graduates of the Class of 2020 the opportunity to finally physically walk across the stage. Abby Wasylean (a Newport native and member of St. Joseph’s Parish) had her choice of graduation ceremonies: after receiving her Bachelor’s Degree as a member of the Class of 2020, she earned her Master’s in Administration of Justice and Homeland Security in 2021.
“Although I could have gone to either ceremony, this felt like a makeup for last year,” Wasylean said. “In some ways, it felt more like a reunion than a graduation, probably because we hadn’t seen each other in the past year.”
In true Salve fashion, Wasylean will be returning to Salve for another Master’s, the Newport M.F.A. in Creative Writing.