About Commencement 2023

Ceremonies celebrating the Class of 2023 of Fairleigh Dickinson University were held on May 17, 2023, at MetLife Stadium.

2023 Commencement Honorees

Sarita Brown and Deborah Santiago are the co-founders of Excelencia in Education, America’s premier authority on efforts accelerating Latino student success in higher education. They founded this national non-profit organization in 2004 to inform policy, compel action and collaborate with individuals and institutions to advance this critical cause. They also recognize outstanding programs with evidence of effectiveness in accelerating Latino student success, and FDU has been fortunate enough to have been cited as an “Example of Excelencia” for our Latino Promise and HACER programs.

At Commencement on May 17, they will deliver the commencement address and will be conferred the honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters and hooded in Fairleigh Dickinson’s burgundy and blue colors.


headshot of lady

Sarita E. Brown
Co-Founder and President

Sarita Brown serves as the organization’s president and is responsible for the vision and governance of the organization. A recognized leader and advocate for equity in higher education, she began her career at the University of Texas at Austin, where she built a national model for increasing the number of students of color in graduate education and in the academy. Once in Washington, D.C., Sarita served in leadership roles in higher-education associations, at American University and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Institute. She also was appointed as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans during the Clinton Administration. 




headshot of Deborah A. Santiago
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer

Deborah A. Santiago
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer

Deborah Santiago is the chief executive officer of Excelencia in Education. An innovator, thought leader, and educational visionary, she has led research and advanced evidence-based practices and strategies for more than 20 years at national levels to improve educational opportunities and success to better serve Latino — and all — students. Among her many contributions, Deborah has addressed federal legislative issues in higher education at the Congressional Research Service and informed program and policy implementation at the U.S. Department of Education. She also improved awareness and education opportunities for Latinos with federal agencies as the deputy director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.



Student Pinnacle Award Recipients for 2023

The Pinnacle Award is the highest honor the University bestows on a graduating student. One student from each campus who has demonstrated academic excellence, public service and commitment to the University is honored. Recipients will address their fellow graduates and the assembled audience.

Joseph Anthony Nigro

Joseph Anthony Nigro, of South River, N.J., will graduate magna cum laude with a bachelor of science in business administration. He started for the Devils men’s basketball team, was a student assistant coach and served on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee. After his sophomore season, Joseph was diagnosed with Stage 2B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After a six-month battle with cancer, filled with chemotherapy and radiation treatments, he was declared cancer free! Just a year after he found out he was diagnosed with cancer, Joseph and his family founded the Fightstrong Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to improve the quality of life for those who are currently battling or who have battled any form of cancer. Following graduation, he will return to FDU in pursuit of an MBA.

Nanakua Aboagye-Addo

Nanakua Aboagye-Addo, known as Nana, of Wood Ridge, N.J., will graduate magna cum laude with a bachelor of science in nursing. Nana enjoys mentoring high school and college students. She is a member of two honors programs at FDU, Global Scholars and the Honors Academy. These programs gave her the opportunity to work with students across majors on creative projects, academic research and writing assignments. Nana is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing and the National Black Nurses Association. In addition to her studies, she works at Englewood Hospital as a patient care associate and at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, N.J., as a patient care technician. After graduation, Nana plans to work as a nurse this coming fall. Her long-term career goals include becoming a nurse researcher and educator, and she has a particular interest in public health.

Divya Kanabar

Divya Kanabar, from Hyderabad, India, moved to Vancouver to attend FDU. She will graduate cum laude with a bachelor of science in information technology with a minor in business technology. During the past four years, Divya has maintained her status on the academic honors list every semester, completed an internship in software engineer at Intellyon Inc. and worked as a student IT assistant on campus. In Vancouver, she spent much of her time exploring the nearby trails and parks. As a wildlife enthusiast, she believes that her true passion lies in wildlife conservation. While she enjoys programming, she hopes to start her journey as a wildlife conservationist. After graduation, Divya plans to work as a backend software engineer.

2023 Commencement Ceremony Programs

The programs for the Commencement exercises of FDU’s New Jersey and Vancouver campuses are available for download.

2023 Commencement Program