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Thomas Jefferson University issues apology for mispronouncing graduates' names

At last week's graduation, a speaker struggled with pronouncing basic names like Thomas, Stephanie, Jessica, and Sarah.
Thomas Jefferson University East Falls campus in Philadelphia
Posted at 4:06 PM, May 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-13 17:06:11-04

Thomas Jefferson University has issued an apology following a speaker's mispronunciation of names during its nursing program's graduation ceremony, which led to a viral and embarrassing video.

At last week’s Jefferson College of Nursing commencement in Philadelphia, the announcer used phonetic spellings from cards to pronounce students' names. While it's a helpful practice for those with challenging names, this led to some very awkward mispronunciations of very basic names, like pronouncing the name of a student "Thomas," which is also the name of the university, as "Tom-mu-may.”

In the video below, which has garnered over 7 million views, you can see the student's frustrated response as he interjects, "It's Thomas!"

Other names the speaker mispronounced included Stephanie, Jessica and Sarah as "Eff-uni," "Jay-sic-u," and "Sayer." The video went so viral that even Jimmy Fallon poked fun at the announcer, saying "Honestly, good for her. She did the impossible; she made a graduation entertaining."

However, the university quickly took to social media to offer its apologies to not just the students, but also their families for the misunderstanding.

"The leadership and faculty of Thomas Jefferson University extend our sincerest apologies for the mispronunciations of the names of several of our graduating nursing students during our recent commencement ceremony," the university's statement read. "This ceremony is a celebration of the significant achievements of our students, and each graduate deserves to have their name honored correctly on this pivotal day."

The university continued to explain that "the mispronunciations occurred due to the way phonetic spellings were presented on the speaker's cards, which was noted when the presenter apologized during the ceremony," adding that the mistake is not a reflection of their respect for each student or the value they place on their hard work.