Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno spoke with candor and smiles Monday, May 17 at NJIT’s 2010 commencement ceremony urging candidates “to love what you do, but stay open to surprises. If anyone ever told me when I was your age that I would be a sheriff or lieutenant governor some day, I never would have believed them,” she said.
NJIT awarded 2,237 degrees to the members of the class of 2010, bringing the total number of degrees awarded by the university to more than 69,685. The ceremony was held at the Prudential Center. Guadagno, who began her public career as a federal prosecutor, was the 75th Sheriff of Monmouth County, and the county’s first woman sheriff. She is also New Jersey’s first Lieutenant Governor. NJIT awarded her an honorary doctor of humane letters.
Other honorees were Ralph Izzo, PhD, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer of the Public Service Enterprise Group, Inc., Newark, who received an honorary doctor of science. Since joining PSE&G in 1992, Izzo was elected to several executive positions within PSEG’s family of companies. Izzo’s career began as a research scientist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, performing numerical simulations of fusion energy experiments.
Leon Smith, MD, an early AIDS activist, received an honorary doctor of science. Smith developed the first viral diagnostic laboratory in New Jersey, as well as H.I.V. and Hepatitis C clinics at Saint Michael’s Medical Center, where he still practices. The “go-to” doctor for mystery diseases, he was chief of infectious diseases at Saint Michael’s Medical Center, Newark, before becoming chair of the hospital’s department of medicine.
Guadagno, who said her primary goal in this speech was to be “quick, since it’s only me who stands between you and your diploma,” advised students to follow six simple life rules. “First and foremost, do what you love. Everything else will fall in place,” she said. Number two was always expect the unexpected with its corollary rule, number three, make sure you have a back-up plan.
Number four was not obvious. “Take that long shot,” she advised, discussing her own life and how opportunities arose like the recent election for lieutenant governor.
“My shot was running for an office no one ever heard of,” she said.
Number five focused on humility. “Learn from your failures,” she said, “And make sure you always move forward afterward.”
Her last piece of advice was don’t fear ambition. “Reach as you rise,” she urged. “Take the opportunities as they come along. And stay in New Jersey!”
In 1979, Smith, discovered the state’s first AIDS cases and established with St. Michael’s Hospital, Newark, the state’s first AIDS clinic. Although people at first wouldn’t work there, eventually the clinic was able to treat 50 patients daily, the roster eventually topping 5,000 names. “That was before we had good therapy,” said Smith. “Today the drugs are so good, it’s easier to treat AIDS than diabetes.” Today Smith is involved with the Leon Smith Foundation which aims to demolish AIDS in Africa. by distributing a sophisticated cell phone to physicians there.
Since joining PSE&G in 1992, Izzo was elected to several executive positions within PSEG’s family of companies, including PSE&G senior vice president of utility operations, PSE&G vice president of appliance service, PSEG vice president of corporate planning, Energis Incorporated senior vice president of finance and information services, and PSE&G vice president of electric ventures. In these capacities, he broadened his experience in the areas of general management, strategic planning and finance.
Izzo is a well-known leader within the utility industry, as well as the public policy arena. His public policy experience includes service as an American Physical Society Congressional Science Fellow in the office of former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley. He also served four years as a senior policy advisor in the Office of former New Jersey Governor Thomas H. Kean, specializing in energy, science and technology.
Izzo’s career began as a research scientist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, performing numerical simulations of fusion energy experiments. He has published or presented over 35 papers on magnetohydrodynamic modeling. Izzo received his bachelor of science and master of science degrees in mechanical engineering and his doctor of philosophy degree in applied physics from Columbia University. He also completed the requirements for a master of business administration degree with a concentration in finance from the Rutgers Graduate School of Management. He is listed in numerous editions of Who’s Who and has been the recipient of national fellowships and awards.
Izzo is chairman of the board for the Drumthwacket Foundation. He serves on the board of directors for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, the New Jersey Utilities Association, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), The Center for Energy Workforce Development, and Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey.