[This commencement address was recently delivered by publisher Dr. Pola Rosen, to a group of hearing and nonhearing students at “47” American Sign Language and English Secondary School in NYC.]
Dr. Martin Florsheim, teachers, parents, families and graduates:
This is a day you will always remember. It’s a day to finally reap the rewards of your hard work over the past several years. It’s a day to celebrate with those you love: your friends, teachers and family. It’s a day to recall a special teacher or mentor or family member that helped you make it through the hard times. And it’s a day to rejoice that SATs are gone forever!!
I remember my high school graduation very clearly, even though it was many years ago. Because the school, Music and Art HS was so large, the graduation was held in Carnegie Hall. My mother had died while I was in junior year so my family was a small group: my father, my sister and my mother’s cousin, a kind loving woman who I am still close to this day. I will always remember the pride of accomplishment I felt. That pride was based on the knowledge I had mastered and that I was going on, in the great adventure of life, to be a college student.
No matter what adventures you experience in life, and there will be many, the mastery of knowledge and obtaining degrees (undergraduate and graduate) will be part of you and will enrich your life forever. Education can never be taken away from you and can help you advance in a career or help you enjoy life more. Study as hard as you can. Go to as many places as you can, study abroad, if you can.
This is the time of your life and it’s up to you to make each day count. Just dare to experiment, dare to experience, have confidence in yourself. As Dr. Seuss says in his famous book, Oh the Places You’ll Go. And you will.
It’s great to have a dream. Don’t be afraid to try to fulfill that dream. And keep trying, don’t give up. Perseverance is an important ingredient of success. And remember Thomas Edison’s famous phrase: success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.
One of the key ingredients of choosing a major in college or choosing a career is that it makes you happy. When you get out of bed each day and look forward to your study or work, you know you have made the right decision. Many of you will have college debts and have to work to help pay for college. Don’t get into the mire of getting a job solely to make money. While it is important to be practical, first try to ascertain what kind of work makes you happy.
In college, use your vacation time to experiment with internships in different fields. This will help you make a wise decision about the career path to choose. College is usually a time to make friends with people of many backgrounds. This is a great opportunity to meet many different kinds of people, with different beliefs and customs from your own. Read voraciously in many disciplines. Enlarge your scope of the universe in which we live.
Some of you are staying in NY; some are leaving your parents and homes to venture forth in the world. Now is the time to start thinking about making a contribution to the greater world, the family of man to which you all belong. There is a famous expression, if you think only of yourself, then what are you?
I have been privileged to love my work, an education newspaper I founded 11 years ago. I’ve also been very fortunate to have interns every year so I can continue helping and teaching the next generation about journalism, about the art of interviewing, and knowledge of the world around us. Two outstanding interns are Justine Rivera and Heather Maher, your valedictorian. They loved working at Education Update, and learned so much. I loved working with them and in turn, learned so much from them. That’s the paradigm of a great work situation: we work as a team, we solve problems together, we learn from each other. They have become my friends and I hope they will stay in touch with me throughout the years. They know they can count on me for friendship and mentoring throughout the years to come.
I wish them the best of luck on the roads they’ll be traveling and I wish you all, wonderful years of promise and fulfillment ahead.#