Kindness, curiosity and tenacity were the qualities that Pace University graduates were encouraged to cultivate on Wednesday, May 16 as the university held its 50th annual commencement at the Pleasantville campus.
Degrees were conferred on more than 700 graduates and honorary degrees were presented to “Color of Water” author James McBride and posthumously to environmental and community leader David Swope, a native of Ossining.
“When you fail at something, come back and hit it again! This is just the beginning,” commencement speaker McBride told students. “You already know how to succeed. What you need to do now is learn how to fail.”
The university presented McBride with a degree of Doctor of Humane Letters for his “inspirational literary excellence, searching and insightful examinations of American society, and dedication to educating the next generation through his writing and teaching.”
McBride, a writer, musician, teacher, and native New Yorker, was a staff writer for the Boston Globe and Washington Post, and later served as a tenor saxophonist and composer for jazz luminaries.
McBride is best known for his New York Times bestselling memoir, “The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother.”
Sarah Daria Rahni ‘18 inspired her fellow graduates with her commencement speech, saying that they needed to make the most of their time on this earth.
"Time is precious… . Every second is fleeting, and yet each is an opportunity to invest in future seconds.... Therefore, we must embrace each moment and make it meaningful," Rahni said.
Pace University President Marvin Krislov, who presided over his first commencement at Pace, exhorted students to express gratitude towards family and friends.
"Be kind and be supportive. Be a good community member. Stay connected to one another. Celebrate each other’s success and support each other through challenges," he said.
In a moving tribute, the late David Swope was conferred an honorary degree (posthumously).
Swope, who died earlier this year, was the third generation of his family to take a leading role in Westchester County. He was chairman of the Jacob Burns Film Center and served on the boards of the Ossining Children’s Center and Phelps Memorial Hospital.
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