On Thursday, the School of Professional Studies held its 30th baccalaureate convocation. The celebration took place in the famous Hammerstein Ballroom of the Manhattan Center, where graduating seniors, their families, friends and partners gathered to mark a milestone in the lives of Class of 2019 graduates.
The ceremony opened up with the traditional presentation of the SPS undergraduate Class of 2019, followed by the bagpipe ensemble, in which the deans and the platform party march through the audience and onto the stage. The procession was followed by the national anthem, performed by graduate Myrna Ghanem.
Interim SPS Dean Susan Greenbaum addressed the Class of 2019 with an opening speech.
“The teaching that occurs [at SPS] is exceptional; the education that results is transformative,” Greenbaum said.
Greenbaum introduced President Andrew Hamilton, who was met by cheers from the audience. In his speech, Hamilton acknowledged the diversity of the graduating class.
“You come from a wide variety of perspectives,” Hamilton said. “Some of you come straight from high school, others — after decades in the workforce. Some have taken a break in education to raise a family.”
Hamilton reminded the Class of 2019 of their responsibility to have a positive impact on the world.
“You are leaders, helping to make the world function better and to elevate human experience,” he explained. “You will go out into the world, you will do great things, you will make the world better than you’ve found it.”
Following Hamilton’s address, Lindsey Pollak, an author and multigenerational work expert, took the stage to speak to the Class of 2019.
“I had no idea I’d follow Mick Jagger,” Pollak said, referring to a line in Hamilton’s speech.
Pollak recalled her time writing for WorkingWoman.com, a media outlet that’s since shut down. She shared the lessons she learned as a young graduate starting off in her field.
“Have a bias toward action. Do something, anything. Feel the fear and do it anyway,” Pollak said. “Don’t worry too much about how everything will come together in your career and build, maintain your relationships.”
Ending her speech, Pollak promised to come to the Class of 2019’s 25th reunion in 2044 to see each member of the graduating class succeeding in life and career.
Student speaker Adam Simon Lassner, who majored in Sports Management, took the stage next to speak to the graduates. A native New Yorker, he spoke of opportunities SPS opened up for him, including studying in London and working in Singapore.
“It is the willingness and the courage in taking this first step in determining who we become,” Lassner said.
Lassner ended by leading his classmates in a chant.
“I say ‘we are,’ you say ‘SPS,’” Lassner said, and his classmates followed his lead.
Greenbaum asked the Class of 2019 to think as to how their respective fields of work can contribute to the greater good.
“Don’t underestimate the impact of a single person or a single decision,” Greenbaum said. “Take real estate. There are real estate agents who advocate for general housing affordability. Take sports. It is a powerful engine for social change.”
Email Anna (Fin) Muratova at [email protected]