1,065 Degrees Awarded at 39th Commencement for New York School of Career and Applied Studies at Touro College
New York, N.Y. – June 21, 2013 – Never stop learning. That was the core message of the keynote speeches at each of two Touro College New York School of Career and Applied Studies’ (NYSCAS) 39thCommencement Ceremonies. Former New York Gov. David Paterson delivered the keynote speech at the NYSCAS Brooklyn graduation ceremony, and Dr. Jeffrey Gardere, a psychologist, author and popular media personality, addressed graduates in NYSCAS Manhattan’s commencement.
In this year’s ceremonies, 644 baccalaureate degrees, 421 associate degrees and 54 certificates in digital media arts were awarded to students from a wide-variety of New York communities and backgrounds. A division of Touro College, NYSCAS maintains sites in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan neighborhoods, and offers courses in human services, business, computing, elementary education and other career-track majors, leading to associate and baccalaureate degrees of arts and science.
Alan Kadish, president and CEO of Touro College, conferred the degrees and introduced the former governor at the Brooklyn ceremony. Eva Spinelli-Sexter, vice president and executive administrative dean of NYSCAS, presided over both graduation ceremonies. Stanley Boylan, vice president and dean of faculties of Touro College, conferred the degrees and introduced Dr. Gardere at the Manhattan ceremony.
The Brooklyn commencement took place on June 10 in the Walt Whitman Theater at Brooklyn College’s School of Performing Arts. Paterson, currently a visiting Distinguished Professor of Health Care and Public Policy at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM), spoke about challenges he overcame as a blind student at Columbia University, so as to inspire students to continue learning in the face of adversity.
“We face a lot of obstacles in life. Sometimes they are unexpected, sometimes they are tragic, sometimes they enrage us, but you distract yourself from these obstacles and are here to graduate today,” said Paterson, who continues to advocate for the visually and physically impaired and manages DAP Strategies LLC, a company he founded and owns. “You can engage. You can win. You just won here tonight.”
Gardere, an assistant professor of behavioral medicine at TouroCOM, endorsed similar values at the Manhattan ceremony on June 12, which took place in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. He advised the graduates to follow his “Five Life Strategies,” which consist of the following: never stop learning, whether from children, elders or teachers; “flip the script” through positive thinking; improve social intelligence by seeking diversity; learn from mistakes; and always believe in one’s self.
“Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not capable. Write your own script, dream your dreams and follow your imagination,” Gardere said, “and as you graduate tonight, go out into the world and make it a better place.”
Because NYSCAS has historically comprised two entities that were later combined into one school, a valedictorian and salutatorian were chosen for each graduation ceremony. Brooklyn’s valedictory address was given by Eugenia Sava, who hails from Moldova and now lives in Brooklyn. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the Honors Program in biology and plans to apply to dental school. Alla Lesnov, who emigrated four years ago from Russia and who also now lives in Brooklyn, gave the salutatory address. She will begin a dual-degree program in occupational therapy at Long Island University in the fall.
Dena “Tira” Bluestone of Manhattan presented the valedictory address at the Manhattan graduation. She intends to work toward a master’s degree and, eventually, a doctoral degree in special education to enhance a multimedia program that she created for children with special needs. The salutatory address was given by associate degree candidate Naomi Rivera of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Rivera, a minister, plans to earn a B.A. and obtain a doctorate in social work and hopes to open a family resource center in her neighborhood.
The college also presented several awards for exemplary service and academic excellence in the face of difficult circumstances. The Lilka and Tuvia Bielski Memorial Award for Personal Achievement was presented to Marie Williams, Wioletta Swietch, Yolanda Wright and Italo Martinez. The Mira Wolf Special Award was presented to Brunilda Almonte and Toshua Courtham. Bluestone, Rivera and Maria Picardi-Cortese received the Lester Eckman Prize for Academic Achievement, and Keturah Mazyk was awarded the Lester Eckman Prize for Community Leadership and Services. The Dr. Jacob Lieberman Memorial Award was given to Nyeesha Archer.