MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – 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 Friday's ceremony.