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Barry University’s Commencement to Honor Resiliency and Community Heroes

By Meredith Amor
Director of Communications, Barry University

May 3, 2021, Miami, Florida – The events of the past year have brought tremendous challenge and heartbreak, but also innovation, heroism, and a renewed call to fight for equality and social justice. In honor of all Barry University students who have answered the call to serve, who are tireless in their pursuit of social justice, and who have displayed true perseverance in the face of uncertainty brought by the pandemic, this year’s Barry University Commencement theme is “Honoring Resiliency and Community Heroes.”

The physically distanced Commencement ceremony will take place at 10:00 a.m. EDT on Monday, May 10, 2021, at loanDepot Park in Miami. Graduates from the Spring 2021 class, those who earned their degree in 2020 when pandemic conditions prevented in-person ceremonies, and inspirational leaders in the South Florida community will be recognized for their incredible achievements. The Commencement will be live streamed at barry.edu/live.

“Our students have been remarkable throughout the pandemic,” said Dr. Michael Allen, President of Barry University. “We could think of no better way to energize them as they head into the world to achieve professional excellence and serve their communities than to bring together a most accomplished group of community leaders who set the bar for excellence.” 

With a focus on the areas of health care, the arts, education, and equity and inclusion, the following individuals will receive honorary degrees as part of the ceremony:

  • Adrienne Arsht, Business Leader and Impact Philanthropist
    The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, with Ms. Arsht’s support, enabled staff and performers to pivot quickly during the pandemic, hosting free virtual performances and creating the blueprint for safely offering audiences live performances. In the summer of racial reckoning and healing, it was the Adrienne Arsht Center that brought performers to our area who reflect the richness and beauty of a multicultural world. Ms. Arsht’s profound impact extends well beyond the arts, both nationally and globally. The work of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center at the Atlantic Council focused on solutions to climate change, migration, and human security challenges. The Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council was devoted to the advancement of hemispheric prosperity. Ms. Arsht will receive an Honorary Doctor of Arts.

  • Marilyn Holifield, Partner, Holland & Knight
    A trailblazer since childhood, Ms. Holifield became the first Black female partner of a prominent Florida law firm in 1986. Years prior, she made history when she was one of three African American students to desegregate Leon High School in Tallahassee in 1963. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard Law School and is co-founder of the planned Miami Museum of Contemporary Art of the African Diaspora. Ms. Holifield recently co-authored Seven Sisters and a Brother, detailing her student activism during the Civil Rights era. She continues to champion social justice, equity, and inclusion in all areas of her work and has received numerous awards for professionalism and public service. Ms. Holifield will address our graduates as Commencement Speaker and will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. 

  • Carlos A. Migoya, President and CEO of Jackson Health System, and
Peta-Ann Anderson, MSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at Jackson North Medical Center
    Mr. Migoya has been at the helm of Jackson Health System throughout the pandemic, serving as a key outside advisor to the governor and the Miami-Dade mayor while Florida was the epicenter of the crisis. He marshalled Jackson’s forces to become the largest vaccination provider in South Florida. Ms. Anderson has devotedly led a team of 450 nurses at Jackson Health System’s largest suburban campus, including at the height of the pandemic when the facility was caring for nearly as many COVID-19 patients as another in the system more than twice its size. Mr. Migoya and Ms. Anderson represent the harmony between clinical and support teams that is vital for daily success and crisis management. They will each receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

  • Gladys Montes, Group Vice President, United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education
    As the pandemic forced educators and childcare providers to reimagine instruction and care for children, Ms. Montes and her staff at the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Education worked tirelessly to ensure their early childhood programs continued to provide critical services and support. Ms. Montes will receive an Honorary Doctor of Education.

The venue for commencement allows for unique and special graduate recognition and the involvement of friends and family while still practicing physical distancing. In addition to hearing the stories of inspiring speakers and honorary degree recipients, graduates can look forward to seeing their names on a stadium digital board, reading messages of encouragement from loved ones on the park display, and taking part in individual photo opportunities.

The latest updates regarding commencement will be posted to Barry.edu/commencement.

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