In the same stadium where the likes of Jay-Z, Paul McCartney and Beyoncé have performed, a new show was getting underway. On Tuesday morning, the famed Barclays Center served as home to NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s graduation ceremony.
The rows of seats were soon filled with Violets — excited and beaming with pride. After the classic bagpipes and drums kicked off the ceremony, Class of 2018 Tandon master’s candidate Alison Abbington sang the national anthem, and then everyone took their seats. President Andrew Hamilton spoke first and lauded Abbington’s singing ability.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that Tandon students are not multi-talented,” Hamilton said. “What a lovely rendition of the national anthem that was.”
Hamilton ended his speech, wishing the Tandon Class of 2018 nothing but the best.
“That you take with you the pride of the entire university, you take with you my best wishes, you take with you the hopes of many, many, many in the NYU community for the next steps in your lives,” he said. “But most importantly, you take with you our heartiest congratulations on your achievements. Well done, Class of 2018.”
Following Hamilton’s address,Chairperson of the Tandon Board of Overseers, member of the university’s Board of Trustees and namesake of the college, Chandrika Tandon, greeted the soon-to-be graduates, and urged them to thank their amazing families and friends who were there in support.
Tandon spoke of the gift of curiosity. Curiosity not only in the field of engineering, but a curiosity about oneself.
“If there is one gift that I could give you all, it would be the gift of curiosity,” she said. “Curiosity will help you break boundaries. I challenge you to break your boundaries […] If you don’t understand yourself, who you are, what your strengths and weakness are, ultimately you won’t realize your full potential and have a full and happy life.”
Finally, she told the graduating class how the world is waiting for them to effect change.
“We are dreaming today,” Tandon said. “We are dreaming you will find ways to make this world a much better place. We are dreaming that you will find the solutions to water, that you will solve the climate crisis, that you will build the infrastructures that have never been seen before, that you will find diseases before they even enter the body.”
After warm applause, Dean of the Tandon School of Engineering Katepalli R. Sreenivasan addressed his students for the last time before new dean, Jelena Kovačević, succeeds him for the next academic year. Sreenivasan thanked the graduates for his time at NYU and wished them luck in their future endeavors.
“Many of you know what you will do next year,” he said. “For once, I’m not sure what I will do after Aug. 14, . All I know is that I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to make a modest impact in shaping your futures. I have no doubt, Class of 2018, you, the latest and our best graduates, will do very well in life. Good luck with your efforts and thank you for being here.”
Following his message to the graduates, Dean Sreenivasan presented the 2018 Polytechnic Medal to keynote speaker Dr. C. Daniel Mote Jr., who is the current president of the National Academy of Engineering, for recognition of his steadfast support for higher education and leadership in engineering. The Polytechnic Medal commemorates the values that have made the school of engineering a home to innovation and opportunity since its inception in 1854.
Referencing Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, John Harrison and Charles Darwin’s lives of non-conformity in his speech, Mote Jr. stressed the importance of taking risks and not always following the rules.
“Well, my experience teaches me that doing the right thing all the time does necessarily lead to great success.” Mote Jr.said, adding that there is no single path to success. “There are a myriad of opportunities that lie ahead for you. They will be there. And very often when you least expect them.”
Valedictorian Myriam Sbeiti discussed the importance of having a safe and nurturing environment in order to succeed. She thanked Tandon for the incredible support system it provides its students with — from its innovative labs to the brilliant and supportive professors to its alumni donors to Tandon families to the friends that Tandon students make.
“Together these factors gave us the confidence and support to reach our potential and flourish in these unknown situations, to take risks, and I’m standing in front of you as a prime example,” Sbeiti said.
After Sbeiti’s address, the 2018 Distinguished Teacher Award was presented to De Angela Duff amid thunderous applause. Then began the presentation of doctoral candidates, or the hooding ceremony, followed by the presentation of bachelor’s candidates and the presentation of master’s candidates.
Afterward, the sea of purple robes poured out of the Barclays Center onto Atlantic Avenue, and thus begun the countless selfies, family photographs and hugs goodbye.
As the graduates begin their new lives, they will not forget the bonds they forged and memories they created during their time at Tandon. And surely, they will always remember the words of Chandrika Tandon: “We are counting on you. Our generation, everybody sitting on this platform is counting on you. We dream about you. All the very best.”
Email Bela Kirpalani at [email protected]