Leonard N. Stern School of Business Commencement ‘17

By Pamela Jew, Staff Writer

On Friday morning, Madison Square Garden, known for hosting the world’s biggest stars, held a new class of stardom — the Stern undergraduate class of 2017. A sea of graduates in violet robes flooded the theater as their friends and family ardently watched them descend the theater staircase.

Following the procession of graduates, NYU’s Pipes and Drums made a grand entrance for faculty, guest speaker and select graduates. The 11th Dean of the Undergraduate College at NYU’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business Geeta Menon welcomed friends and family of the graduating class and congratulated the graduates who sat before her.

“This is it,” Menon said. “You’ve made it. You’re sitting amongst a top notch group of world changers.”

After a warm introduction by Dean Menon, NYU President Andrew Hamilton stepped up to the podium to congratulate the innovative graduating class.

“After my first complete year here, I can look out into the crowd and truly say we have innovators and game changers in the crowd,” Hamilton said.

President and COO of Rally Health David Ko, this year’s keynote speaker, focused his speech on resilience. Ko brought his 1989 NYU rejection letter to read aloud, and told the audience how he went from NYU reject to NYU alumnus and a Stern board member.

“I really wanted to come [to NYU] and couldn’t accept rejection,” Ko said. “I hopped on a bus from Jersey and came to New York City where I somehow found my way to Stern. I waited for hours until someone came to me. A few weeks later I received a letter. ‘Congratulations David!’ Someone took a chance on me.”

Ko said in life and in business you have to take chances. As a past employee of Zynga — the company that brought us Words with Friends — Ko never thought he’d even be in tech, but now as the president and COO of Rally Health, he is using technology to improve healthcare.

Student speaker Nadim Muzayyin, who earned the honor of addressing his fellow Sternies through a competition, spoke to the strength and vigor of his classmates.

“We’ve been through the ringer,” Muzayyin said. “But we’ve made it because I know Sternies are resilient and passionate about what we do.”

Following Muzayyin’s speech, a video compiled by a graduate showcased fellow graduates reminiscing on their four years at Stern. The video was a bittersweet end to the inspiring ceremony.

Afterwards, students anxiously rose from their seats to grace the stage and officially graduate. Audience members applauded and cheered as the graduates shook hands with esteemed faculty.

Menon closed the ceremony with a final congratulations as the graduates and their guests cheered. The graduates turned their tassels and their pages to a new chapter in their lives as NYU alumni.

Email Pamela Jew at [email protected]