University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

President Jem Spectar's 2021 Commencement Address

Watch President Jem Spectar's Commencement Address.

More than 350 proud Pitt-Johnstown graduates of 544 graced the stage at Richland High School to receive their diplomas, now ready for the real world.

President Jem Spectar's Commencement Remarks

Today you join more than 22,000 Pitt-Johnstown alumni who, for nearly a century, have been making a difference in our communities and around the world. Your achievement is even more remarkable against the backdrop of a year filled with so many challenges. Congratulations!

You should feel a sense of great accomplishment, indeed.  Over the past years, you have expanded your ability to think critically and creatively, engage in inquiry and discourse, reason soundly, communicate effectively, solve complex problems, and link theory-to-practice with an eye toward real-world implications. In addition to the knowledge and skills you acquired in the classroom, you were actively engaged on and off-Campus, including internships, clinicals, practical training, athletics, clubs, and organizations, as well as leadership and service   opportunities in our surrounding communities.  

Today, you stand at the finish line. This is a milestone moment, a culmination of excellence, determination, sacrifice, and resilience.   These qualities, especially resilience, were very much required over the past year as you became only the second graduating class in the past century to finish your degree during a global pandemic.  You persisted and powered through enormous challenges from dealing with social distancing and zooming and Canvas, to in some cases, quarantine and isolation! Your resilience paid off, bringing you to this milestone moment for you and your loved ones, a remarkable accomplishment - under unusually trying conditions. Class of 2021, you have demonstrated enormous resilience, adaptability and readiness for the real world!  You have risen to the occasion to meet the challenges of the day, to survive, and yes, to triumph. Congratulations.

Much gratitude is owed to all who supported and encouraged you as you navigated this challenging journey.  Our talented and dedicated faculty and staff, as well as your families, friends, and loved ones, were a vital resource, supporting, encouraging, and occasionally commiserating with you. Let me take a moment to acknowledge the entire ecosystem of support, all those who gave so much in innumerable ways to make this day possible. They are owed an enormous debt of gratitude. Thank you.

In the decades ahead, I also hope the relationships, friendships, and personal connections developed on our beautiful Campus continue to sustain you as you navigate the road ahead with all the challenges and opportunities that life will surely bring.  We hope you stay connected to your alma mater and that you do your part to burnish its history and impact, that you shine like a proud member of the global network of Pitt alumni.

The end that we celebrate today marks another beginning, ushering in a life of consequential engagement and impact. Today, you step forward into the future -- a Pitt-Johnstown graduate, ready for the real world. We trust that you would use your considerable talents in the service of our communities and humankind, that you will get involved and make a positive difference in our world. We hope that you will stay fully and passionately engaged in the challenges facing our communities and the pressing issues of our time. We hope you will continue to maintain a healthy balance between mind, body, and spirit as you embrace and enjoy your world.

It is always bittersweet to say goodbye. But, we are happy to join you in celebration as you set sail to a world of possibilities. We are grateful that you chose Pitt-Johnstown for this phase of your life’s journey. We wish you well as you step forward to create the future.  Godspeed.