“Commencement is the culmination of our hopes, our plans and our work; from the first day that you came to campus until today.” “Knowledge is never wasted. When you least expect it . . . suddenly an idea will come to you, and you can trace it back to the intense effort you put into one of your courses.” “You will continue to be part of the Pace family, even after you graduate, and we hope to see you often.”
These were just a few of the things that were said by Dyson College of Arts and Sciences’ dean Nina Hermann to graduating Dyson undergraduate and graduate students during the virtual commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 20.
In addition to Hermann, the ceremony featured three student speakers: Heather Farley, an undergraduate student from Pace University’s New York Campus, Brent Cameron, an undergraduate student from Pace’s Pleasantville campus and Tandeika Stephens-DeClemente, a Pace graduate student from Guyana.
In her address, Farley emphasized the importance of staying positive and kind to one another, especially during this time.
“Even if the world is crashing around you, every day will have happy moments, and even if it is just for a second, it makes the day worth it,” she said. “I see so much goodness within a time filled with so much sadness that it actually makes me hopeful for the class of 2020.”
Cameron made references to the Lord of the Rings, Dante’s Inferno and King Arthur’s Knights at the Round Table to make the points in his speech more effective.
“Today, we are like [the knights at the round table]. Now we need the will to do the work, to earn the courage to be able to stand at that darkest starting point, to forge a path to our very own bliss,” he said.
In her speech to graduates, Stephens-DeClemente spoke about her experience of being an international student and what she learned from that experience. She also spoke about what Pace’s motto of Opportunitas meant to her.
“Opportunitas meant that a girl from one of the smallest countries in South America had the chance to sit on a panel and speak to an audience . . .about the international student experience,” she said. “Opportunitas also meant I had the ability to speak freely even when it was for the difficult things.”
Once the addresses from students and Dean Hermann concluded and the Dyson achievement awards were announced, University Provost Vanya Quinones and President Marvin Krislov imparted their words of wisdom to the graduates, while their names were scrolling on the right-hand side of the screen.
In her speech, Provost Quinones highlighted her admiration of the resilience and persistence of the entire Pace community during this pandemic.
“You are graduating today because of your resilience, perseverance and your ability to succeed through these extraordinary times,” she said. “I am proud of you for remaining focused and finishing strong, and I know that [your persistence] will continue to pay off.”
Towards the end of her address, she also gave students a homework assignment; to reflect on everything they learned and accomplished during their time at the university, especially during this pandemic.
“Remember opportunitas, which is the essence of your education at Pace,” she told graduates. “You are opportunitas in action. You are Pace.”
In his address to graduates, President Krislov emphasized and reiterated how much students have accomplished within their tenure and within these last few months specifically. He also congratulated the parents and families of the graduates.
“[Your parents and families] have been your biggest boosters your entire lives. They have supported you through your time at Pace and, even more than anyone would have expected, through these last few months,” he said.
Krislov urged graduates to not let these last few months define their experience at Pace, but to look back on the totality of their college experience and the endless connections and memories that they made.
The last person to “see” the Class of 2020 off was New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who usually joins the class at their in-person ceremonies. However, he was unable to do so this year, due to obvious circumstances. Despite this, he encouraged the graduates to celebrate the fantastic occasion and achievement, and to remain hopeful for the future.
“All of your hard work has earned you a degree from a fine institution of higher learning, and nothing can take that away from you,” he said. “It’s natural to fear the unknown, but do not let the harshness of this current moment prevent you from seizing opportunities . . . our society will overcome this pandemic and so will you.”
With that, Pace’s newest alumni group were sent on their way into the real world. The Pace Chronicle would like to congratulate all the members of the Class of 2020 and wishes them the best of luck in their future endeavors.