New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) conferred 2,885 bachelor’s and doctoral degrees at the 102nd commencement ceremony May 15 at the Prudential Center in Newark.

Dr. Leah Hope Jamieson, Ransburg Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Professor of Engineering Education, and John A. Edwardson Dean Emerita of Engineering at Purdue University, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Science and delivered the commencement address in which she shared her perspective as a first-generation college student from Trenton, N.J. who attended graduate school at Princeton University at a time when there were only a small number of women students. 

Dr. Leah Hope Jamieson delivered the 2018 Commencement address on May 15.

Jamieson distinctly recalled the first time when she heard someone in an academic setting use the expression “he or she” and asked herself the question, “Do I belong here?”

“Most of us are in some dimension a minority in our communities,” she said. “Ultimately, the answer was yes.”  

Quoting Nelson Mandela, who famously said that “Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world,” Jamieson said that it should challenge us to take on the most pressing issues including sustainability, natural disasters and threats in cyberspace.

“We have something important in common – we’re all the NJIT class of 2018, but each of us is unique...You are the NJIT Class of 2018 and you will do great things,” she said.

During the main ceremony, the university also awarded honorary degrees to Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka and Richard P. Sweeney ’81, a vice president at Keurig and a co-founder of the K-Cup single coffee brewing system, who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and an honorary Doctor of Science, respectively.

Mayor Baraka, whose strong relationships with Newark’s clergy and higher education leaders have allowed him to foster new collaborations on downtown and neighborhood redevelopment, education initiatives and fighting crime, urged the Class of 2018 to remain in the city to lend their talents and expertise.

“We need your brilliance, creativity and problem-solving to make this city the best in this country,” he said.

Presiding over the ceremony was NJIT President Joel S. Bloom, who told the graduates that our global knowledge base is expanding exponentially and technology is changing every industry in the world in ways that could not have been imagined as recently as a few years ago.

“You are the ones prepared to drive these changes in the years ahead,” he said. “You will do it with hard work and passion.”

In his address, Bloom discussed the three qualities that many graduates have developed: hard work, passion for one’s developing profession, and kindness toward one’s fellow students, NJIT community members, and others with whom they have come in contact.

“We have great confidence that you will continue to develop these qualities and succeed, because you already have demonstrated the hard work it takes to become extraordinary in any walk of life,” he said.

Mark Neubauer '18 was the student speaker at the Commencement ceremony.


Student speaker Mark Neubauer, who received a B.S. in biomedical engineering and served as Student Senate President this past year at NJIT, advised the Class of 2018 to be resilient.

“Being passionate about what you do is amazing,” he said. “Being excited to change the world is fantastic. But passion alone will only get you so far.  You can’t be passionate about all the dull, exhausting, and unpleasant things life will throw your way. But you can be resilient and keep on moving forward despite them. With enough grit, with enough determination, you can overcome these obstacles and achieve the success you’ve always wanted.”

For the first time in its history, NJIT will confer master’s degrees at the new Wellness and Events Center on the NJIT campus May 17 (College of Architecture and Design, College of Science and Liberal Arts, Martin Tuchman School of Management and Ying Wu College of Computing) and May 18 (Newark College of Engineering).

For more information about NJIT’s 102nd Commencement ceremony, please visit commencement.njit.edu.