Radio City Music Hall, one of the most iconic theaters in the world, turned violet Thursday morning for the annual College of Arts and Science undergraduate commencement ceremony. On one of the busiest avenues in New York City, Radio City Music Hall was packed with graduates sporting the famous NYU violet robes, with friends and family sitting in the audience, eager to see their loved ones cross the stage and graduate.
Following a procession of school representatives, faculty members and special guests to the beat of a bagpipe-drum ensemble, the ceremony began with the Seryl Kushner Dean of CAS Gabrielle Starr welcoming everyone to the ceremony. This ceremony marks Starr’s last NYU baccalaureate ceremony, as it was announced that she will be leaving her position at NYU to become the first female president of Pomona College in Claremont, California. Reciting a poem she wrote to the graduates, she expressed her excitement and enthusiasm to see their progress and success wherever their future takes them, as unplanned as it might be.
Next NYU Provost Katherine Fleming’s speech had the audience rolling with laughter as she compared the instruction students receive at NYU to the instructions she would write on a hand-drying machine.
“First, place hands under nozzle to begin airflow,” Fleming said. “Secondly, rub hands vigorously to dry. Lastly, wipe hands on pants.”
While it might seem as if NYU prepares students on exactly how to succeed after graduation, Fleming expressed that an NYU education is merely a stepping stone — a tool for the graduates to use to the best of their abilities as they move on from the institution.
The Ronald P. Beattie Valedictory Award was given to the valedictorian of this year’s class, John Messinger. A neuroscience major, Messinger balanced his schoolwork with research in various labs, along with being the captain of NYU’s wrestling team. In a short speech, Messinger asked his classmates to reflect on the state of today’s society and said that while everyone should celebrate their achievements in graduating, they should also take time to think about how they can all individually create change within our society.
Following the addresses given by the dean, provost, faculty and valedictorian, the Class of 2017 took to the stage as they heard their names called. The audience applauded for each student as they crossed the stage, shaking the hands of faculty and trustees.
Afterwards, the Banner Ceremony took place, honoring the banner of CAS which was carried to the stage by a CAS graduate selected by the dean who exhibited outstanding all-around qualities as both a student and as a member of the greater NYU community. Finally, the ceremony ended with the singing of “Alma Mater,” a song written by Duncan M. Genns and Dorothy I. Pearce, graduates of NYU in 1900 and 1948, respectively.
The ceremony ended on a bittersweet note as the graduates, along with their friends and family, left the theater of Radio City Music Hall and began flooding the streets, as they officially transitioned from NYU students to NYU alumni.
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