Thomas Edison State University celebrated 50 years of innovation and transforming students’ lives at its 50th Annual Commencement on Saturday, Oct. 1, at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, NJ.

This year the university was honored to have Elizabeth ‘Bette’ Ewing, from the Class of 1973, who was the first graduate to cross the stage at the inaugural Commencement on June 15, 1973. Ewing addressed the graduates, noting, “As an adult student with a small child to care for, I was fortunate to find Thomas Edison – a school that had just been established and created to serve adults. This school that began 50 years ago still offers everything it did when I was a student – flexibility, access, and hope. My degree gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams of becoming a teacher…a meaningful career that I will cherish forever. This is a big day for all of you…I hope all of you will continue to chase your dreams, continue learning and support others along the way.”

The TESU’s Class of 2022 included 2,098 graduates and approximately 450 attended the ceremony. The graduates came from 37 US states including California and Wyoming and from as far away as Chili, St. Lucia, and United Arab Emirates.

Dr. Merodie A. Hancock, president of TESU, acknowledged the hard work of the graduates, affirming, “Your alma mater is named after someone who refused to quit. How fitting is that? Thomas Edison’s spirit of innovation and dogged pursuit of success is at the forefront of our University’s mission and in our actions every day. Some people may say I’m biased, but the proof is sitting in this arena, right in front of me. We have rocked it for 50 years and we have only just begun.”

Student speaker Erin Rybicki, Esq., of West Wildwood, N.J., gave the response for graduates. Rybicki, who is a 2022 recipient of a Doctor of Business Administration degree, told the Class of 2022, “Every graduate in this room set big goals and overcame the challenges presented on the way to meet their goals. In traveling the path towards your goal of graduation, you became stronger, more resilient, and better prepared for the challenges of tomorrow.”

During the ceremony, the university recognized New Jersey State Sen. Shirley K. Turner with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Thomas Edison State University has awarded approximately 71,998 degrees to more than 64,923 graduates since it began providing distinctive undergraduate and graduate education for self-directed adults through flexible, high-quality collegiate learning and assessment opportunities in 1972.