New York Times and New Yorker: “Reflecting on War and Its Tentacles – ‘Soldier Songs’ at Pace University”

The New York premiere of “Soldier Songs” will be at the Schimmel Center this week as reported by the New York Times and the New Yorker. (Zac Ballard, left, and Christopher Burchett in “Soldier Songs” at Pace University’s Schimmel Center.)

The New York premiere of “Soldier Songs” will be at the Schimmel Center this week as reported by the New York Times and the New Yorker.

From the New York Times:

“Shock and awe” entered the mainstream vocabulary in 2003, when the term denoted the military doctrine of an overwhelming display of force that would be used in the invasion of Iraq. That the designation can have a markedly different meaning to the men and women who serve in the armed forces is a central point of “Soldier Songs,” a musical theater piece by the composer David T. Little. When the work had its New York premiere on Friday night at Pace University’s Schimmel Center for the Arts, shock and awe took on a new meaning: that of staging aesthetic.

Mr. Little completed “Soldier Songs” in 2006, basing its libretto on interviews he conducted with family members and schoolmates who served in World War II, Vietnam, the gulf wars and Afghanistan. In just under an hour the work depicts episodes from a nameless protagonist’s lifetime involvement with military conflict, from boyhood sandbox skirmishes and first-person-shooter video games to the terror of actual battle and the anguished loss that comes in its wake.

Mr. Little also alludes to mass-media saturation; a virtual-reality distancing between a soldier’s actions and their results; and jingoistic longing for military dominance. At several points he uses the actual recorded voices of veterans: notably, both female and male.

Nursed through several earlier incarnations by a loyal producer, Beth Morrison, “Soldier Songs” had its formal premiere in a staging directed by Yuval Sharon, introduced in 2011 at the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven and jointly mounted in New York by Pace Presents and Prototype, the ambitious new festival Ms. Morrison helped to found.

Mr. Little’s gifts for setting text comfortably and effectively, and for writing music informed by Minimalism and rock but slavishly indebted to neither, are evident throughout the briskly paced work. But the concerns he conveys in “Soldier Songs” are seldom comfortable or pleasant, and Mr. Sharon’s production detonates them in vivid, sometimes harrowing ways.

Nearly all the action is concentrated in a patch of center stage, a sandbox with a seesaw, hidden at times by fabric walls that rise and fall. Monitors strewed around the set flash video-game images and patriotic slogans. An overhead screen and bare lighting rigs frame the stage, at one point producing blinding flashes and deafening outbursts that convey precisely shock and awe.

As the Soldier, the sole vocalist apart from isolated shouts from the instrumentalists, Christopher Burchett marched, paced and caromed around the set, producing a robust baritone, a childish falsetto and a power-mad bark by turns. As a stage presence he was fearless; stripped to his underwear for a scene of rabid battle preparation, he evoked superheroic posturing and vulnerability simultaneously.

Zac Ballard, a child actor, was a haunting foil as the Boy, serving as the Soldier’s playmate and mirror. Upstage in plain view, Todd Reynolds conducted Newspeak, Mr. Little’s instrumental ensemble, in a performance that aptly balanced precision, nuance and impact.

In program notes distributed on Friday, Mr. Little — who wrote about mixing politics and art for The New York Times — claimed that “Soldier Songs” was not meant to convey a specific point or message. Maybe so, but Mr. Sharon’s confrontational staging emphatically underscored implicit antiwar sentiments. At once seductive and repulsive, the presentation provided further evidence of Mr. Little’s fast-rising stock as a vital theatrical creator.

“Soldier Songs” is repeated Wednesday through Friday at the Schimmel Center for the Arts, Pace University; (212)352-3101, prototypefestival.org.

(A version of this review appeared in print on January 15, 2013, on page C4 of the New York edition with the headline: Reflecting on War and Its Tentacles.)

Read the New York Times Music Review.

From the New Yorker:

The knockout première of “Dog Days” at Montclair’s Peak Performances series last fall made the young composer David T. Little into American opera’s newest star. To follow up, Morrison presents the New York stage première of this earlier, one-hour work, a rock-driven, multimedia one-man opera that follows a typical U.S. warrior from infancy to old age, with songs set to a libretto fashioned from interviews Little did with veterans of five conflicts. Christopher Burchett sings it; Todd Reynolds conducts the Newspeak ensemble. (Michael Schimmel Center, Pace University, 3 Spruce St. Jan. 16-18 at 7:30. For tickets and information about other festival shows, see prototypefestival.org.)

NEWS RELEASE: Pace University Helps Those Hit Hardest by the Storm

Pace University’s commitment to community service, civic engagement and philanthropy has been put into action even as the university community has been struggling to regain normalcy on all campuses and in the homes of students, administration, staff and faculty. On campus, issues with power restoration, Internet connectivity and phone service have recently been resolved. Off campus, the Pace community is turning adversity into a moment to help those hit even harder. (Left: Students help with clean-up at SPCA in Westchester).

Pace University Helps Those Hit Hardest by the Storm

NEW YORK, NY, November 14, 2012 – Pace University’s commitment to community service, civic engagement and philanthropy has been put into action even as the university community has been struggling to regain normalcy on all campuses and in the homes of students, administration, staff and faculty. On campus, issues with power restoration, Internet connectivity and phone service have recently been resolved. Off campus, the Pace community is turning adversity into a moment to help those hit even harder.

Pace University students, faculty and staff have helped others in several ways since Superstorm Sandy. Some Pace students who have helped in recovery efforts have returned with tears in their eyes – realizing how fortunate they really are to have only lost power. Others have lost their homes themselves.

Pace University’s resident students from three dorms in lower Manhattan were relocated after the storm for 6 days to One Pace Plaza where heat, food and shelter were provided. Many of these students, as well as Pace residential life staff, turned an otherwise uncomfortable situation into an opportunity for service.

In total, over 250 Pace students have participated in organized projects –

  • Working with elected officials (including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver).
  • Some coordinated by NYC Council, City Hall and Trinity Church on Wall Street.
  • About 20 students helped deliver meals to homebound elderly in Manhattan.
  • Pace is allocating space for 124 displaced pre-school and Kindergarten students.
  • The Pace Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) hosted a clothing drive at three Pace Volleyball home games to aid local residents.
  • The Pleasantville campus was used as a warming center for local residents still without power. Residents warmed up and charged their electronics. Food was provided.
  • Pace Success Mentors helped with clean-up at the Westchester SPCA Friday, 11/2/12.

The football team was featured on the Red Cross website as “a prime example of a community coming together in the face of a massive tragedy.” For the full articles, click here and here.  “This has been a real learning experience,” said one of the players. “When times get tough, we come together and become one to help the less fortunate.”

Upcoming Pace projects include:

  • Film and Screen Studies major and Paramount Pictures intern, Jordan Hirsch, is coordinating a holiday food drive working with the Food Bank of New York City.
  • Pace students will help in clean-up efforts at individual homes in Staten Island.  This is a joint project with The College of Staten Island and All Hands volunteers.  The trip will take place this Sunday, November 18.  Transportation will be provided for students.  Pace alumni and students from Staten Island affected by the storm available for interviews.
One Pace professor, Diane Cypkin, who was born in a DP camp after WWII – lives in Brooklyn and lost her car which “floated away into the Atlantic.” She has had to take mass transportation from Brooklyn to Pleasantville every day since for work. She had this to say on Facebook: “I thought I’d share what I’ve learned these past two weeks . . . since Sandy . . Hurricanes destroy a lot . . . and build at the same time. During the physical storm your head is in a mental storm. After it, in the midst of whatever your “devastation” is, there comes a quiet . . . and the “real” shows up . . . real friends . . . real “good.” I’ve learned. I’m grateful.”

The Director of Student Development and Campus Activities at Pace, Rachel Carpenter, said, “We received two phone calls from an emotionally thankful mother of one of our student staff members.”  Pace sophomore AJ Fazio’s family lost their home and are currently living in temporary housing.  He has three step brothers and his two parents.  Most of their belongings were lost.  Within days Pace staff had donated clothing, bedding, kitchenware, and more.  AJ’s mother said she felt blessed that her son went to a school with such caring staff/faculty.  “It was sometimes difficult to understand her through her tears and powerful emotions,” Carpenter said.  “It really touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes.”

Pace’s Center for Community Action and Research continues to email updates to students with detailed information on how they can help in the recovery efforts of the area.

Media contact: Cara Cea, ccea@pace.edu, 914-906-9680.

Patch.com: Pace Students Talk Presidential Debate

Patch.com reporter Sarah Studley came to Pace’s Pleasantville campus to watch the second 2012 Presidential debate with Pace students and faculty.

Patch.com reporter Sarah Studley came to Pace’s Pleasantville campus to watch the second 2012 Presidential debate with Pace students and faculty.

Her interviews with students as well as commentary from political science professor Greg Julian can be found here:

http://tarrytown.patch.com/articles/pace-students-talk-pres-debate-video#video-11753067

From Patch.com:

There was Big Bird. Then there was “malarky.” And now there are “binders full of women.”

While these comical word choices for the presidential and vice presidential candidates have been making headlines over the past few weeks leading up to the November debate, Pace University students in Pleasantville were more concerned with divisive issues Tuesday night.

While tuning into the Hofstra University Town Hall style presidential debate, students and faculty at the campus laughed at some of President Barack Obama’s retorts, “Ooohed” at Mitt Romney’s attacks and took a critical look at the debate as a whole.

Following the just over hour-and-a-half long exchange, moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley, Pace students dissected the candidates’ responses and strategies.

The two candidates will meet a final time before the November 6 election on Monday, Oct. 22.

The last Presidential debate watch party was covered by Scott Salotto from WABC news radio/Imus in the Morning.

Westchester.com: When Carnivores Become Neighbors Discussion

Westchester.com posted a story on Pace’s upcoming roundtable discussion, “When Carnivores Become Neighbors.”

Westchester.com listed information on the upcoming roundtable discussion, “When Carnivores Become Neighbors.”

From Westchester.com:

With bobcat, coyote and mountain lion sightings around Westchester County making headlines, the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies will hold a public roundtable discussion at Pace University in Pleasantville Thursday, Oct. 11 at 6:30p.m. on carnivore movement, impacts, and policy.

Environmental experts will discuss ways to balance carnivore and suburban human populations, exploring the ecological and social implications of “re-wilding” Westchester that has come about with changing landscapes and the adaptation of carnivores. The panel will consist of Conrad Reining, the Eastern Program Director of the Wildlands Network, and Pace professors Melissa Grigione, professor of biology and director of the environmental science graduate program; David Cassuto, environmental and animal law professor; and Michelle Land, professor of environmental policy and director of the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies.

Carnivores play an essential role in a balanced ecosystem and they provide us with an opportunity to preserve many of the remaining intact forests and open lands in North America. Carnivores also regulate “pest” species, such as rodents and help keep deer populations in check thereby reducing car collisions and Lyme Disease. Grigione and her students research and track carnivores to determine numbers and their migration patterns. She has been called upon by news media in recent years after sightings to share expertise gleaned from years of field research, often reassuring that humans are not in danger. Grigione adds, “In addition to their importance in the ecosystem, carnivores allow us to appreciate true wildness because many of the carnivore species will never fully cohabitate with humans.”

DETAILS:

WHAT: “When Carnivores Become Neighbors,” a roundtable discussion on living near carnivores

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 6:30p.m. – 8:30p.m.

WHERE: Pace University, 861 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY, entrance 3, Kessel Student Center, Gottesman Room.

WHO: Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies www.pace.edu/paaes/wildlife-westchester.

This event is free and open to the public. RSVP paceacademy@pace.edu.

View the press release on the event here.

NEWS RELEASE: Pace University Presents a Public Forum on Living with Carnivore Wildlife in Westchester

With bobcat, coyote and mountain lion sightings around Westchester County making headlines, the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies will hold a public roundtable discussion at Pace University in Pleasantville Thursday, Oct. 11 at 6:30p.m. on carnivore movement, impacts, and policy.

Pace University Presents a Public Forum on Living with Carnivore Wildlife in Westchester

Environmental experts will discuss the ecological and social implications of the “re-wilding” of Westchester in a roundtable discussion, “When Carnivores Become Neighbors”

PLEASANTVILLE, NY, Oct. 5, 2012 – With bobcat, coyote and mountain lion sightings around Westchester County making headlines, the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies will hold a public roundtable discussion at Pace University in Pleasantville Thursday, Oct. 11 at 6:30p.m. on carnivore movement, impacts, and policy.

Environmental experts will discuss ways to balance carnivore and suburban human populations, exploring the ecological and social implications of “re-wilding” Westchester that has come about with changing landscapes and the adaptation of carnivores. The panel will consist of Conrad Reining, the Eastern Program Director of the Wildlands Network, and Pace professors Melissa Grigione, professor of biology and director of the environmental science graduate program; David Cassuto, environmental and animal law professor; and Michelle Land, professor of environmental policy and director of the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies.

Carnivores play an essential role in a balanced ecosystem and they provide us with an opportunity to preserve many of the remaining intact forests and open lands in North America.  Carnivores also regulate “pest” species, such as rodents and help keep deer populations in check thereby reducing car collisions and Lyme Disease.  Grigione and her students research and track carnivores to determine numbers and their migration patterns. She has been called upon by news media in recent years after sightings to share expertise gleaned from years of field research, often reassuring that humans are not in danger.  Grigione adds, “In addition to their importance in the ecosystem, carnivores allow us to appreciate true wildness because many of the carnivore species will never fully cohabitate with humans.”

WHAT: “When Carnivores Become Neighbors,” a roundtable discussion on living near carnivores

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 6:30p.m. – 8:30p.m.

WHERE: Pace University, 861 Bedford Road, Pleasantville, NY, entrance 3, Kessel Student Center, Gottesman Room

WHO: Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies  www.pace.edu/paaes/wildlife-westchester

This event is free and open to the public. Media admission by press pass. RSVP paceacademy@pace.edu.

Media Contact: Cara Cea, ccea@pace.edu, 914-906-9680.

The Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies: The Academy is the first of several centers for excellence envisioned by Pace University’s President, Stephen Friedman, to promote high-level collaborative and interdisciplinary programming in key thematic, academic areas throughout the University. The Academy is a freestanding institute that renews and deepens the University’s long-standing commitment to environmental research, scholarship, and service.

Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies is dedicated to enhancing a mutually beneficial relationship between nature and society by harnessing the unique knowledge, talents and skills intrinsic to university life. www.pace.edu/paaes/

About Pace University: For 106 years, Pace has produced thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu

Visit Pace on the web: Pace.edu | Facebook | Twitter | Flickr | YouTube.

NEWS RELEASE: Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger to Speak at Pace University on September 5

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger will be speaking to Pace’s student athletes about his inspirational life story on Wednesday, September 5 at 7 pm at the Goldstein Health, Fitness and Recreation Center. This event is free and open to the public.

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y.- The Pace University Athletics Department is will welcome Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger to Pace’s Pleasantville campus on Wednesday, September 5 at 7 pm at the Goldstein Health, Fitness and Recreation Center. He will be speak to Pace’s student athletes about his inspirational life story. This event is free and open to the public. Rudy will also do a book signing following his talk.

For the first time, read Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger’s real life story in Rudy: My Story revealing the man behind the beloved movie Rudy, and his continued determination to make his dreams come true. Rudy describes growing up in Joliet, Ill., becoming one of only a few players in Notre Dame history to be carried off the field, struggling to get a movie made about his life, and losing sight of his own dreams, nearly derailing him. Rudy details the failures and hard lessons he’s learned and shows how hitting the reset button was the best thing that happened him.

“I fell into the same obvious trap that the rest of the country had fallen into in all of those boom years: I shouldn’t have been chasing the money,” says Rudy. “I should have been chasing the dream. It was one of the most profound, simple, important lessons I would ever learn – and the consequences of that lesson would haunt me for years.”

Rudy doesn’t just represent some far-fetched Hollywood story that most people can never attain—its message is that Rudy is an “Average Joe,” and anyone with a dream can make that dream a reality by being willing to put in the hard work, and heart, it takes to get there.

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger is the subject of the blockbuster film Rudy and one of the most popular motivational speakers in the United States. His humble background and determination to pursue his dreams, no matter the challenge, has made him legendary and an inspiration to everyone from school children to businessmen and athletes, even presidents. He established the Rudy Foundation to help children around the world and the Rudy Awards for high school and university level athletes.

NY1 News: Cuomo Administration Holds Small Business Workshop At Pace

The Cuomo administration held a workshop for small business owners at Pace that was covered by NY1.

The Cuomo administration held a workshop for small business owners at Pace.

From NY1 News:

“The Cuomo administration is fanning out across the state to help small businesses and create jobs.

Members of the administration were at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Wednesday for a workshop.

The state offers assistance to startup businesses and the gatherings are a way to let entrepreneurs know what is available.

“If someone is interested in starting a new business and they really just don’t know where to start, this forum helps them and gives them a road map as where to start where to get the resources and where to get the financial assistance and technical assistance that the state offers,” said Alphonso David, the New York State Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights.”

View the video here.

The Harrison Daily Voice: Pace Professor Discusses Novel at Harrison Library

Joan Katen, a professor of political science and Middle East politics at Pace, discussed her novel “Love at the Edge” Wednesday night at the Harrison Public Library. (Left: Pace University Professor Joan Katen discussed her novel “Love on the Edge,” which deals with the relationship between an Israeli man and a Palestinian woman, Wednesday night at the Harrison Public Library. Photo credit: Greg Maker).

The Harrison Daily Voice (formerly The Daily Harrison) featured a recent appearance by Pace professor Joan Katen to promote her book.

From the Harrison Daily Voice:

Joan Katen, a professor of political science and Middle East politics at Pace University, discussed her novel “Love at the Edge” Wednesday night at the Harrison Public Library.

The novel tells the story of an Israeli man and Palestinian woman who fall in love despite the conflict between their cultures.

“I kept learning and teaching about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and it hurt my heart to the point where I couldn’t do it anymore,” Katen said. “I didn’t want to teach about sadness anymore. I’m trying to get people to make a move to the leaders of these people and international organizations so this problem can be solved in a fair, equitable way.”

“Love on the Edge” tells the story of David, an Israeli man, who keeps coming in contact with Yasmeen, a Palestinian woman in Paris. In the novel, David has lost his best friend to a suicide bomber while Yasmeen’s sister was killed by a stray Israeli bullet. Once the two find out about where the other is from, their preconceived notions take over. However, try as they might they keep running into each other until fate throws them a curve ball and they have to work together to survive.

“They have to learn how to trust each other,” Katen said. “What happens develops from the Corsican liberation movement, which wants to separate from France. It is a parallel thing that happens in the book where the characters can see their own position in their own conflict.’

Katen said part of the reason she decided to write this novel is because she is constantly irritated by the fact the two groups fighting each other are so similar. Katen said when Muhammad founded Islam, he took a lot of Jewish traditions.

“They are not very popular around the world because of this conflict,” Katen said. “But they are so similar. They should be working together for a good future to get rid of the conflict which is all about land. If you read this book you will feel the humanity involved in the conflict but the rest of the world still sees it as turmoil going on.”

Pace Professor Discusses Novel at Harrison Library | The Harrison Daily Voice (formerly The Daily Harrison).

The Journal News: Pace University graduation Photo Gallery, classmates honor Danroy Henry

Several media outlets in Westchester covered Pace’s undergraduate commencement ceremony in Pleasantville and the Law School commencement in White Plains. The Journal News, The Examiner, News 12, The Daily Pleasantville and Patch.com were on hand to celebrate the 2012 graduations.

Several media outlets in Westchester covered Pace’s undergraduate commencement ceremony in Pleasantville and the Law School commencement in White Plains. The Journal News, The Examiner, News 12, The Daily Pleasantville and Patch.com were on hand to celebrate the 2012 graduations.

Patch.com‘s coverage included photos and video:

“Stories are not static, but dynamic. They continue to evolve in ways we can anticipate and in ways we can’t.”

In his commencement speech to the Pace University Class of 2012, Jacob Burns Film Center Executive Director Stephen Apkon (a Pace alumnus) encouraged the graduates to use their knowledge and experience to shape their own stories as they continue their journeys, yet be open to “uncommon sense.”

“So, what will your story be?” he asked.

For Alison Lee Goshgarian—a Dyson College of Arts and Sciences undergraduate and one of the 433 students who walked across the Goldstein Fitness Center stage in Pleasantville Friday—her story started off with an unexpected turn of events.

“When I was a senior in high school, I was rejected from every college I applied to,” she revealed to the crowd of 3,200 attendees. “That damper on my self-esteem is what turned my life into a complete different direction.”

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) also shared a personal anecdote that changed his life. As a young man, he was offered an all-expenses paid opportunity to travel around the world, but chose to stay home with a girl he loved…who ended up leaving him shortly after.

“There I was—no scholarship, no trip around the world…no girl,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘What a loser you are.'”

After moping around “for several months” and then attending law school, Schumer decided to change courses again and run for office.

“Don’t forget—go for it!” he told the graduates.

From the Pleasantville Examiner:

Stephen Apkon, founder and executive director of the Jacob Burns Film Center, was awarded an honorary degree and delivered the commencement address at Pace University’s May 11 graduation at its Pleasantville campus.

The ceremonies, which also featured U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, drew more than 3,000 people who watched the 443 graduates receive their degrees.

“Today is not just a marking of classes taken or credits earned, of tests passed or majors fulfilled, it is neither beginning nor end, but rather a place to stop, to celebrate your accomplishments and to look toward the future,” Apkon said. “It is a turning of the page.”

Apkon spoke to graduates about the importance of stories in their lives and how that has evolved over the years.

“I have pinned above my desk a quote from the great American documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles who said, ‘The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away when they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other’s memory. This is how people care for themselves.”

Despite the steep challenges facing graduates, Apkon pointed out how the world is more interconnected than it has ever been and how much easier it is to bring stories and information to the masses.

“Over four billion videos are viewed [on youtube] by more than 800 million people,” Apkon said. “More video is uploaded each month than our networks produced collectively, in their more than 60 years of existence. Videos can be created and shared by each of us as a result of hitting send.”

In his parting words to the Class of 2012, Apkon told them to write their own story, occupy their life and listen deeply.

“Foster the seeds that have been planted in your time here at Pace University,” Apkon said. “I congratulate you and wish you continued success. I wish you happiness, fulfillment and deep connection. And I wish you uncommon sense.”

Schumer congratulated the graduates and told them and their families to cherish a special moment such as this.

“One of the greatest days of the life of my wife and me was seeing our daughter graduate college,” Schumer said. “Congratulations to your moms and dads.”

From The Daily Pleasantville:

Undergraduate students at Pace University‘s Pleasantville campus walked the onto the stage and into a new phase of life during Friday morning’s graduation ceremony.

“Commencement is a beginning; not an end,” said Harriet Feldman, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “We know that this commencement ceremony not only marks great achievement, in your Pace University degree, but it also marks an achievement that will continue throughout your lifetimes.”

Degrees were given to 433 students, who arrived in the Goldstein Fitness Center on a blue carpet, where they were greeted by more than 3,200 cheering friends, relatives and parents.

“Is this really happening?” said Alison Lee Goshgarian, the class speaker. Goshgarian, a graduate of Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, said she was rejected by every college she applied to out of high school.

“As we all know, life isn’t easy. But I chose to overcome adversity,” Goshgarian said. “That morning when I woke up I told myself, ‘You’re going to go to junior college for one year, and one year only. You gotta get straight A’s; you’re going to go to a place where you can start and design your life.’ And I did. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get to your next step. Sometimes you need to take those baby steps in order for you to achieve your goal.”

Goshgarian also paid tribute to a fallen classmate, D.J. Henry, who was fatally shot in 2010. He had been on schedule to graduate in 2012.

“We are not just students; we are a community,” Goshgarian said. “Together we have experienced happiness, stress, tears, laughter, love and tragedy. Tragedy struck our class, and we honor the spirit of those not with us today. And we can safely say that Pace has turned us into a family.”

Stephen Apkon, founder and executive director of the Jacob Burns Film Center, received an honorary degree and addressed the students during the ceremony.

“Each of you, the Pace University class of 2012, stand here today, poised to change the world, to make it a little healthier, a little more just, a little more connected,” Apkon said. “You will no doubt experience unforeseen challenges and unanticipated joys. You will suffer unexpected setbacks and unimagined successes. In short, you will experience life in its fullest.”

Visit The Daily Pleasantville on Facebook for a complete album of pictures from the ceremony.

Pace University graduation Photo Gallery, classmates honor Danroy Henry | The Journal News | LoHud.com | LoHud.com.

The Journal News: Students prove smarts in robots

The winning team from the FIRST Tech Challenge at Pace in January returned from the championships.

The winning team from the FIRST Tech Challenge at Pace in January returned from the championships.

From The Journal News:

The Suffern Syborgs are home from their first major competition with a bittersweet victory under their belts.

The Suffern High School robotics team battled hard and made it to the semi-final round of the annual FIRST Robotics Championship in St. Louis, then lost a tie-breaker match against another team.

“We lost because of a malfunction in our robot,” team adviser George Mugno said Saturday, as the team wound down after the four-day competition and prepared to fly back to New York.

Still, the 11-member team finished among the top 24 in a field of more than 2,000 high school robotics teams from throughout the United States and the world.

That in itself is a major achievement, said Mugno, a mathematics and engineering teacher at Suffern High.

“(The students) take it as a learning experience rather than defeat,” he said. “We’ve only been in existence for three years, so it’s a phenomenal showing.”

Students were challenged to direct robots they built to score points by placing balls in a milk crate and lifting the crates as high as possible — in their case, 12 feet.

Video of the competition is available at http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/robotics.

To qualify for the St. Louis event, the Syborgs competed and won the Hudson Valley championship held at Pace University in January. They also competed at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York last month.

Students raised money to finance most of their trip. The Ramapo Central School District and the PTA also helped with expenses.

Mugno said the team of freshman through seniors is comprised of all types of students — athletes, honor roll students and some with learning disabilities — who work together and learn from each other.

“It’s a complete range, and most of them start off with me, never having even fixed their own bicycle chain, so I’m quite proud of that,” he said.

Students prove smarts in robots | The Journal News | LoHud.com | LoHud.com.