Montclair State University conferred 665 doctoral and master’s degrees, including an honorary Doctor of Laws degree on New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, who delivered the Graduate School Commencement address at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on Friday, January 17.
“Try to enjoy the journey and know that you will find your calling,” Grewal, who was confirmed as New Jersey’s 61st Attorney General in 2018, told the graduates. “But along the way … I ask that you always look to find ways to make that journey easier for others.”
University President Susan A. Cole presided over the Graduate School Commencement exercises, where students who completed their degree requirements between August 2019 and January 2020 received their degrees in science and mathematics, humanities and the social sciences, business, the arts and education.
Attorney General Grewal, a noted champion of the rule of law and a committed advocate for the people of New Jersey, whose address was interrupted many times by applause and cheers, shared with the students that he had found his calling on September 11.
“At that time, I remember watching our country come together. It was like no other moment in my lifetime,” he recalled. “We were united both in grief and in anger. And there was this surge of patriotism … but there was also a darker side. People who looked or believed differently, people like me were targeted by some.” America had always been his home, he said, and “I felt a need and a desire to help make it the best version of itself.”
Since assuming office, he has focused his attention on protecting the interests of state residents by expanding affirmative litigation, strengthening police-community relations, reducing violent crime and fighting the opioid epidemic.
“As you walk off this stage this evening with your degrees in hand, know that your journeys are just beginning – that you, too, may encounter obstacles that you never could have supposed or imagined,” the Attorney General advised. “But when one door closes for you, don’t ever be afraid to change course and to open another one. Don’t ever be afraid to follow a path you never before considered or even thought was possible for you. Always be open to new opportunities and possibilities.”
Over the course of a career that includes more than 15 years of public service, Attorney General Grewal has served as Bergen County Prosecutor, the chief law enforcement officer of the most populous county in the New Jersey. He also has served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, as well as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
“Here’s what else I’m certain of this evening,” he told the graduates in closing. “All of you are going to do exceptional things – whether it is on the front page or out of the limelight. Like President Cole said, I can’t wait to see also what all of you accomplish.”
The celebration marked the first of two Commencement ceremonies for students of The Graduate School in 2020. The second, for those who complete their degree requirements in the spring, will be held on May 19 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The 2020 Commencement ceremony for undergraduate students will take place on May 22 at Prudential Center in Newark.