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.