The momentous occasion was a day-long affair that began in the morning with the graduate Commencement ceremony. Proud family and friends filled the Expo Center to celebrate the achievements of 1,458 master’s degree and 55 doctoral candidates who hail from the U.S. and 27 other countries.
The worldwide influence of Stevens graduates was reflected in the choice of this year’s Commencement speaker.
Introduced by President Nariman Farvardin as an alumna who personifies the international reach of Stevens and the global ambitions of its students, Pam Cheng ’92 M.Eng. ’95 delivered an animated address filled with humor and humility.
Cheng current post at one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world was preceded by a 17-year career at Merck in China, known as “MSD” in that nation, where she presided over MSD’s growth to three manufacturing plants, one R&D center and more than 5000 employees.
Cheng greeted the Stevens community by expressing how deeply honored she was to deliver the commencement address and how delighted she was to return to the school she still considers “home.”
Extrapolating lessons from her own life, she underscored the importance of a positive attitude in overcoming life’s difficulties and achieving success. That mindset, she said, is the single most important attribute she looks for in potential hires. “Ten percent of life is what happens to you, the other 90 percent is how you respond,” she advised.
In his own remarks, President Farvardin encouraged the graduating class to seek out interesting challenges to solve, to always act with integrity and to aim high, reminding them of the university’s Latin motto, Per Aspera Ad Astra: "through adversity to the stars."
Famed Medical Innovator Encourages Undergrads to Break New Ground
Later in the afternoon, family members, friends and well-wishers gathered for the undergraduate Commencement ceremony to celebrate 605 bachelor’s degree recipients from the new Class of 2016. Their exuberant cheers and thunderous applause reverberated throughout the Expo Center during the Academic Procession.
After opening remarks from Faculty Marshal Edward Whittaker and a rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" performed by the President’s Ensemble, Reverend Rose Beeson of St. Matthew Trinity Lutheran Church in Hoboken delivered the invocation.
Dr. Robert Fischell, a pioneering inventor of medical instruments, gave the undergraduate Commencement address.
Introduced by President Farvardin as a visionary and prolific inventor, Dr. Fischell helped to create some 50 satellites during his 30-year career at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
He also holds patents to life-saving medical devices such as lifetime pacemaker batteries. His pioneering contributions to biomedical and space technology have earned him numerous accolades and awards, including induction into the Space Technology Hall of Fame and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation's highest honor for technological achievements.
In a stirring address, Dr. Fischell told the audience of future business leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs and inventors that his life-long fascination and involvement with technology made it possible for him to truly live the “American Dream.” As the Bronx-born son of immigrants, he was the first in his family to attend college.
At his own graduation from Duke University in 1951, the commencement speaker was Sir Oliver Franks, then British ambassador to the U.S. Franks, he vividly recalled, marveled at the power of technology to improve the quality of daily life by citing the “homely miracle” of hot running water as an example.
He urged the Stevens Class of 2016 to forge new ground, rather than follow the easy path, adding that the difference between what is possible and what is impossible is the unrelenting desire to continue.
After presenting him with an honorary bachelor of engineering degree, President Farvardin expressed his delight that Dr. Fischell is now part of the Stevens family.
First in Class Trio Cite Friendships, Faculty Mentors
Gabriella Green, Matthew Heinrich and Alex Sabella, the three undergraduates who are First in Class this year with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, offered their own words of advice to their fellow graduates.
Green, who earned a bachelor's in biomedical engineering, thanked her family as well as the “incredible people” who supported her at Stevens, including faculty members Vicki Hazelwood, industry professor in biomedical engineering; Distinguished Service Professor Kevin Ryan; and her sisters and brothers at Alpha Phi Omega fraternity and Sigma Delta Tau sorority. “We can overcome more when we work together,” she said.
In his remarks, Heinrich, who earned a bachelor's in mechanical engineering, said he was still processing the fact that his Stevens journey was coming to an end. “Life hits you really fast at Stevens,” he said. Urging his classmates to always remember the people who helped them, Heinrich thanked his parents and Stevens professors Manu Mannoor and Frank Fisher.
Sabella, who earned a bachelor's in computer engineering, expressed his gratitude for the many opportunities he was afforded at Stevens, including assistance from the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in helping him and his Stevens colleagues in their pursuit of their startup dreams.
He also spoke about the personal relationships he formed at Stevens, such as meeting his best friend, telling fellow graduates, “I hope you had the time of your life.”
In his closing remarks to both the graduate and undergraduate Commencement ceremonies, President Farvardin encouraged the newest Stevens alumni to maintain a life-long connection with their alma mater, and reminded them that they are joining a distinguished and august club, one that includes the inventors of bubble wrap and IMAP (the modern form of email), the co-founder of General Motors, a director of NASA and many others who have impacted the world in meaningful ways.
The Class of 2016, he said, will no doubt change the world with their own innovations and leadership.
To view photos and messages from the 144th Commencement ceremony, please visit www.storify.com/FollowStevens/congratulations-class-of-2016.