Saturday, May 22, 2010
EMBRACE THE UNEXPECTED, WAGNER GRADS TOLD
Wall Street maverick Muriel Siebert
delivers the commencement speech
By AMISHA PADNANI
Nearly 600 graduates of Wagner College were encouraged to embrace the unexpected as they convened yesterday on campus for the last time.
“Do not be afraid to go into uncharted territories,” said Muriel Siebert, the featured speaker at the commencement ceremony, who is known as a Wall Street maverick. “Don’t be afraid of rejection. Don’t be afraid of something you tried to do. Just pick yourself up and try it again.
Ms. Siebert, a Cleveland native, is often referred to as the “First Woman of Finance” for becoming the first female member of the New York Stock Exchange in 1967 — after facing sneers of disbelief from her male counterparts. Though she never completed college, she became the first female superintendent of banking for New York and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame upstate in 1994.
Yesterday, Wagner bestowed on her a doctorate of letters. Also honored were the Rev. A.R. Bernard Sr., who left a 10-year banking career to become a minister, with a doctor of divinity degree; and Dr. Vincent Fischetti, who has spent his life studying how to prevent bacterial infections in humans, with a doctor of science.
Ms. Siebert’s message appeared to resonate with students, whether they planned to start a new job next week, move to another state for work or start their summer with no plans at all.
“I’m really unsure at the moment about what I’ll be doing,” said Alyssa Kennedy, 22, of Long Island, who studied business and has applied to several schools with the aim of earning a master’s degree in marketing. “But it was inspirational to see many of my classmates up on stage ready to move forward, even though they also don’t know what comes next.”
The mood was jovial on the Grymes Hill college’s Sutter Oval despite the sweltering sun beating down on the graduates in their black gowns and caps — some decorated and studded with jewels.
About 430 undergraduate students, 166 graduate students and seven post-graduates received degrees or certificates. Speeches were made by Nicole Mahoney and Michael Pinto, students whose outstanding achievements were noted by college administrators.
Students cheered each other on as they were called to the stage and hats were flipped high into the air. Though it was a proud moment for all, it was a bittersweet day too.
“It’s an odd feeling,” said Kevin Kearny, 22, of Haddonfield, N.J., an English major who will be moving to St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Pennsylvania to teach English and coach the cross country track team. “On one hand, I’m happy to be done and to move on. On the other, this has been my home for four years and it will be tough to readjust.”