April 29, 2022
Olympic gold medalist and World Cup soccer champion Heather O’Reilly will address the graduates at the University’s 146th commencement
Hackettstown, N.J., April 29, 2022—Centenary University will hold its 147th commencement in a series of outdoor ceremonies to celebrate the Class of 2022. Three in-person ceremonies are scheduled on campus:
- , May 4, 6 pm—Hooding ceremony and commencement for master and doctoral students
- , May 7, 9 am—Bachelor of Science and Associate of Science degree recipients
- , May 7, 1 pm—Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Social Work, and Associate of Arts degree recipients
Valedictorian of the Class of 2022 is Alissa Brianna Mor of West Milford, NJ, who will deliver the valedictory address at both May 7 undergraduate commencement ceremonies. Mor will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in chemistry. Marisa Wilson of Succasunna, will be recognized with the University’s prestigious Alyce Hunter Dissertation Award at the May 4 hooding ceremony/commencement for master’s and doctoral graduates.
Three-time Olympic gold medalist and former US Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) member Heather O’Reilly will deliver the commencement address at the two ceremonies on May 7. A three-time Olympian, O’Reilly won gold with Team USA in 2004, 2008, and 2012. She was also a member of the USWNT that captured the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015. She ended her playing career with the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), winning the 2019 NWSL championship with her team. Today, O’Reilly is the mother of two young boys, an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina, and an analyst for Fox Sports.
The University will present O’Reilly with a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to international sport and her leadership in championing equal pay for the USWNT. O’Reilly has been an advocate for the USWNT class action equal pay lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. Filed in 2016, the lawsuit challenged the existing pay scale for the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams, shining a light on the consistently lower wages earned by the women’s team, despite their superior results on the field. In a settlement reached earlier this year, the U.S. Soccer Federation agreed to pay $22 million in back pay to the players, as well as $2 million to establish a fund for USWNT players’ post-career goals and charitable efforts.
In her commencement address at Centenary, she plans to discuss the lawsuit within the context of standing up for things you believe in: “If you want to make things right and change history, you have to be willing to fight for it. We’re all very proud of our team and our legacy. We stood our ground and got people to think differently. Besides the wins on the field, I think this is something our team will be remembered for and I’m thrilled to be part of that group.”
O’Reilly’s address will cap an Olympic-themed academic year at Centenary. Guest speakers have included athletes and coaches who have won Olympic and Paralympic gold, as well as sport professionals who have worked behind the scenes to plan international sporting events, including the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
ABOUT CENTENARY UNIVERSITY
Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix provides an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world. The University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township.