With woops, cheers and mortarboards flying, NJIT today awarded 2,643 degrees to the members of the class of 2013. This brings the total number of degrees awarded by the university to more than 74,678. The ceremony was held at Newark’s Prudential Center.NJIT President Joel S. Bloom welcomed a crowd that easily outnumbered 5,000. “Whatever path you follow, I know that each of you will aspire to build a better world. You will do so professionally through the application of skills and knowledge you have gained in the classrooms and laboratories of a great university. At the same time, be aware of how your abilities can benefit others in need, responding in future as so many members of the NJIT community did to help with recovery after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.”
Student speaker Vanessa Casteblanco, of South Plainfield, noted the difficult workload that she and her classmates survived to reach this day. For encouragement, she pointed to the freak snowstorms and violent hurricanes she and her classmates endured in addition to the usual.
“How can we ever forget living like cave men for days,” she joked.
Chemical engineer Herman Blackman, who received his bachelor’s degree in 1938 from NJIT’s predecessor institution, Newark College of Engineering, was honored as the most senior alumnus marching.
The contributions and dedication of Kathy Wielkopolski, of Chester, who will pass on the responsibilities of chair of the NJIT Board of Trustees, was acknowledged. Wielkopolski, who will return to the board as a member, has held a position on this Board since 1998. She also was the Board’s first female chairperson.
Three honorary doctorates went to Cisco System Senior Vice President Carlos Dominguez and alums civil engineer and businessman Edward Cruz, a principal today of Hop Brook Properties and U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, PhD.
Dominguez presented the commencement address. Calling the day “thrilling,” he offered the following advice:
On the topic of adapting and surviving: “My father left Cuba at the age of 40 with a young family. I was four years old. He left family and friend behind and would never see them again for the price of freedom. What he taught me was that being adaptable is a matter of survival.”
On being kind and humble: “All your degrees and ribbons won’t matter. But people will remember your kindness.”
On finding your passion: “For me it was technology since I was a kid. My dad loved televisions, cameras. These devices made him smile and giggle. They clearly were an influence. He probably would have enjoyed my job more than me.”
On believing in the seemingly impossible: “Don’t get left behind. The world will change.”
On lifelong learning: “I like being uncomfortable, in over my head. You, too, stay fearless and try new things. Lifelong learning will be your key to success in the future.”