Record attendance marked the celebration of commencement in the auditorium of the Westchester County Center for nearly 600 graduates who completed undergraduate and graduate degree programs. During the ceremony, President’s Hall of Distinction inductees received honorary doctorates: Mr. Michael Ahn, the Doctor of Letters; RNDr. Martin Palouš, the Doctor of Laws; and Mr. Paul Glenn, the Doctor of Laws. Mr. Ahn delivered the Commencement address at Nyack’s 127th graduation.
Musical performances by a School of Music ensemble were conducted by Dr. Sue Talley. Violinist Hongik Kim, Class of 2010, was accompanied by Margrit Zimmerman in another musical selection. Capping the presentation of degrees to the graduates, music professor Dr. Dana Talley led a sonorous rendition of “How Great Thou Art.”
Regrettably absent from the impressive roster of platform guests, was H.E. Mathieu Kérékou, president of Benin (1972-1991; 1996-2006). Scheduled to offer a prayer of blessing over the graduates, President Kérékou had been recently hospitalized and was unable to travel. Still the May 8 commencement had special significance for him: a 2010 magna cum laude Nyack graduate was his daughter, Hondo Sephora Claire Kérékou.
Excerpts from platform speakers:
DR. MICHAEL AHN, Commencement speaker and Honorary Doctor of Letters recipient
"Every one of us was born with a specific aim and calling from God to be respected regardless of race, gender, age, or title. Look at the wildflowers on the hill. Their shapes are different. Their colors are different. And their blooming time is different. However, they live together peacefully and harmoniously. That is like our diverse and wonderful student body here."
"Being professional and creative is important. However, that is not enough for success. Human relationships are also very important as we work and live together. We need cooperation, coordination, and support from others for success. Networking is a key word for success in this era because one person or one organization has limited capabilities."
"Whenever I have faced challenges, I have considered them as opportunities to make me stronger and tried hard to overcome them with the help of mentors, families, and friends. I believe God has always been with me. God has always made me stronger through the challenges I have encountered. Whenever you face challenges, have faith that you can overcome those challenges!"
DR. MARTIN PALOUS, Honorary Doctor of Laws recipient
"Receiving the Honorary Doctor of Laws at Nyack College – today, one of the largest institutions of Christian Higher Education in the United States, which, as it is stated in its basic documents and information materials, “seeks to…fulfill its mission by being (1) socially relevant; (2) academically excellent; (3) globally engaged; (4) intentionally diverse; and (5) personally transforming,” is indeed a great and, I have to admit, quite unexpected honor for me. I would like to assure you that I am receiving this distinction not only as a recognition of my past modest contributions to the implementation of the above mentioned five core values written into the foundation of this school, but also as a personal challenge for the future and a great responsibility.”
“…as the linguistic meaning indicates, commencement rather points to the opposite direction. It does not denote “end,” but on the contrary denotes“beginning,” “start,” ”opening,” “initiation”. It designates a forward-oriented transition point in your lives, a bridge between your past and your future. It evokes not only memories, good or bad, but first of all new opportunities, choices you will be making after this graduation.
“…let the Almighty God give you this Solomonic wisdom, and let His Blessing and Grace be with always you wherever you are going to go and whatever you are going to do. Because what else than mutual understanding and relationships of love and friendship do we all need if we want to “live well” in the postmodern world today, to preserve in it our basic values, our personal integrity, our political freedom, our fragile, but always with the divine gift of action endowed, humanity.”