SMLR Celebrates The Class of 2017

Rutgers University SMLR Ceremony


More than 450 SMLR students joined their family, friends, professors, and additional members of the SMLR community at the Louis Brown Athletic Center on May 13, 2017 to celebrate a milestone—the completion of their degrees. The event, which marked the school’s 14th annual Convocation, recognized the 890 total graduates from the school this academic year. 

SMLR Dean James C. Hayton led the ceremony by first acknowledging the more than 3,000 attendees. “I want to thank all of the friends and family members for the love and support you have given our students throughout their careers at the School of Management and Labor Relations,” said Dean Hayton. 

He proceeded to introduce Dr. Aaron Fichtner, Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, who attended the event as this year’s guest speaker. 

“Learning does not end when you walk out of this building today with a diploma in your hand,” said Dr. Fichtner. “To the Class of 2017 of the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations, Congratulations! We are counting on you to help build a new labor market that provides opportunities for all and benefits both employers and workers.”  

Class of 2017 Representatives
"I am sure many of us have similar stories: of experiencing or seeing suffering, and needing to doing something about it - and maybe make a living doing so. We leave here today with the knowledge and know-how to make that happen."
~ Christian Berk, LSER’17 
"Class of 2017, our degree gives us the tools to work to correct injustice and unfairness in this world. We can empower others, and we can love others fully. This is a great privilege." 
~ Mariah Painter, MLER'17
"I have had the privilege of learning from tremendously bright and academic professors, whose continued support and guidance made it possible for me to be standing here in front of you today." ~ Anna Baid, HRM'17
"The program teaches me that we solve the people issue from business standpoint; at the same time, we support business form people side. I believe human capital is one of the very main driving forces of business successes." 
~ Ran Zhang, MHRM'17

Dr. Fichtner’s address was followed by speeches given by student representatives from each of SMLR’s undergraduate and graduate programs. The students each used sage advice and examples from their academic journey to inspire their peers to succeed in the next chapter in their professional careers.

Speakers included: Christian Berk from the bachelor's program in labor studies and employment relations (LSER); Anna Baid from the bachelor's program in human resource management (HRM); Ran Zhang from the master's program in human resource management (MHRM); and Mariah Painter from the master's program in labor and employment relations (MLER).

Amongst the pomp and circumstance, two doctoral students, Sargam Garg and Scott Bentley, graduated with a Ph.D. in Industrial Relations and Human Resources. HRM Professor Joseph McCune was the recipient of the James R. Chelius Teaching Award, which was created in memory of Jim Chelius, a beloved teacher, scholar, and mentor in the Department of Human Resource Management. HRM students nominate an award recipient, and the selection is made with the consent of HRM faculty. 

SMLR would like to thank the event’s distinguished guests, which included:

  • Michael Dragun, MLIR’96, Rutgers University, SMLR State Advisory Council
  • Binod Khadria, Visiting Professor, Indian Council for Cultural Relations Chair
  • Natasha Marchick, Board of Trustees, Student Representative, SAS & SMLR, B.A., 2015
  • Joe Walsh, Assistant Director of Off Campus Programs, Rutgers Division of Continuing Studies

The graduates now join a powerful network of more than 490,000 Rutgers alumni worldwide. 

Congratulations to the class of 2017!

View more photos on SMLR’s Facebook page