President Drew Bogner's 2018 Commencement Address

Commencement 2018

President Drew Bogner's Remarks at Commencement 2018

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, faculty, administration and staff, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2018 Commencement ceremony. 

First, to the graduates of the Class of 2018, let me extend my sincere congratulations.

I would like to extend my thanks to the faculty and administration for another job well done in educating this next group of Molloy alumni.

I would also like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Board of Trustees, seated on stage, and the former trustees in attendance with us today, for their tremendous leadership.

Let me begin by giving special acknowledgement and congratulations to our two recipients of the Doctor of Laws Degree, Bishop William Murphy and Daniel Henry, Board Chair Emeritus. My association with both have extended throughout most of my 18-year presidency. They have been huge supporters of Molloy and steadfast counselors to me personally.

If your involvement with Molloy extends back more than a decade, then you know how much the College has changed. These changes do not take place without a comprehensive network of leaders and visionaries.

It should come as no surprise that William Murphy, the Bishop of Rockville Centre for 16 years, and Daniel Henry, Chair of the Board of Trustees for 9 years, were two key individuals in supporting and shepherding the remarkable growth and strengthening of your college.

Please join me in thanking both for their energy, enthusiasm, and contributions to Molloy College.

Now to the graduates. So here you are ----- Graduating from Molloy College at the end of two-years or four-years or five-years or more. Each one of you a success story.

So how did you do it? In this most intimate of settings, I'm going to ask you to do something quite contrary -  I'm going to ask you to stop - quiet down and reflect with me. Reflect with me on how you got to this point. Reflect with me, knowing that all you want to do at this time is walk across the stage, get your diploma from me and go out to dinner with family and friends - right?

But nonetheless, reflect with me so that when the time comes, you can do it all again. I don't mean get another degree from Molloy College, while I think that does sound great, but when the time comes you can achieve success again that is deep and rich and meaningful.

So how did you do it? A couple of weeks ago I put out a call to you, the graduates, to tell me your Molloy story. So let me summarize what you told me.

Success is about accepting challenges. It is about saying "yes" to opportunities. Nicole Puoplo shared with me that as a senior in high school she applied to 18 colleges, Molloy not being one of them. But when Steve Bier came to her high school AP calculus class and spoke about Molloy, she decided to apply.

Margaret Mackey shared with me that at 24 going back to school was the furthest thing on her mind, but then she heard a one-minute ad on Pandora Radio that told her that she could get her master's degree from Molloy College in as little as one year.

Imagine if Nicole or Margaret had not said "yes" to those opportunities that were suddenly, and unpredictably, placed in front of each. Certainly they wouldn't be here today, but life is like that. Each and every day new opportunities come our way, but usually we ignore them, or we decide it's best not to stray from our original course, and we say "no."

Justin Mahabir would tell you that Freshman orientation started a chain reaction in him. "I started to open up and talk to more people including peers and faculty which made me join clubs and eventually start working in Student Affairs and becoming a student ambassador," he said. "This led me to realizing the kind of person I want to be, and since then I always continue to grow and be the best I can, not only for myself but for those around me."

I'm sure many of you have the same story. Keep in mind that numerous opportunities will present themselves to you over the next coming years. Will you say "yes" at work to these new opportunities or "yes" in the community when asked to be a volunteer?  I hope so!

Success also comes from challenging ourselves, and you know that. Amanda Taveras told me that her most transformative experience at Molloy was her field placement internship during her senior year. As she said, "I found myself in an after school program with 15 ten-year olds screaming out of windows, jumping on desks and having zero mercy on me. I was truly sitting in my own discomfort, which the department knows should basically be written in the handbook of our field. I thought to myself 'how am I possibly going to manage here until May?'  Somehow ... I survived.  This placement taught me how capable I am ... in any environment"

Guess what Amanda? You might not be in an environment quite as challenging as that again, but each of you will need to meet challenges head on if you are to succeed again.

Success is also about resiliency. As Dakota O'Neill can tell you, looking back on playing varsity volleyball at Molloy taught her the power of resiliency. During her first three years, the team only won 24 games in total. In her senior year, the team not only had a winning record of 26 games, but also won the East Coast Conference Championship for the first time ever at Molloy and advanced to the NCAA Regional Tournament.

Victoria Fernandez can tell you her own story of resilience. Just after completing undergraduate studies, she was diagnosed with cancer. She was also not having much luck finding a job and that, combined with her health made her feel "hopeless." So, she decided to apply to graduate school. "What did I have to lose" she said. "At Molloy I worked with so many wonderful colleagues and professors who helped me grow tremendously and things fell into place."

Victoria has a message for all of you undergraduates graduating today... "Stay motivated even if you don't have much luck finding a job right out of college. Things always end up working out."

Success is also about work ethic, and this might be the real secret to Molloy graduates succeeding. Chris Romeo told me that his most transformative experience at Molloy was failing an exam. That's right, failing an exam. It taught him to put everything he had into preparing for every exam, because "exams will not ace themselves."

I have had conversations with hundreds of employers who each tell me that Molloy graduates might be a little more prepared and competent than graduates of other institutions, but what separates Molloy alumni from others is an amazing work ethic.

In a related way Success is also about Excellence. As Elizabeth Meittnis told me, "Because of Molloy ... I value excellence, because excellence is very much obtainable if you work hard."

And finally, Success is about believing in yourself, believing that you can meet the challenge, and that you will succeed. And as many of you know at Molloy, surrounding yourself with those who also believe in you can allow you to achieve even more than you might think is possible. Many of you told me how one professor or another believed in you and you began to believe it as well. So, the final lesson is that success is about surrounding yourself with those who share your same dreams and possibilities.

As you graduate, it is our sincere hope that you will rely upon these same lessons you learned here at Molloy, to achieve other noteworthy accomplishments. But as a faith based institution, as a Catholic College, we define success as more than a personal endeavor. To be truly successful, we expect that you will help others to succeed.

So as you make your way up your career path, provide opportunities for others to grow. Each and every person was created in God's image and likeness with a creative capacity and desire to be a contributing member of society.

Encourage and give others chances to say "Yes." Allow for resiliency, a chance to fail and learn from it. Remember your journey and help others along their path.

You are also called to change society. Change society into being a more just and compassionate place. How do we do that? It comes from how we treat others and how we choose to live.

Our stories, the stories of Molloy students, are those of giving time, energy and treasures to many causes. This is what we are called to do throughout our lives. If we want the world to be a certain way, we must live it that way.

Our contributions will not all be elaborate and grand such as winning the Nobel Peace Prize or starting a movement, but in our everyday lives we are part of a societal movement that is propelled forward by treating others with dignity, respect and compassion, fighting for justice, and for what is right.

When we stop doing that, when we stop living that way, we allow others to shape society. You already know how to do this, because for many of you, it is how you are living right now. You have already done it.

As Michael Goldin said, "After four years, all those little, random acts of kindness build up. You start to hear about how you inspired someone else to follow a certain path, come to Molloy, or just feel more comfortable on campus.  And hearing those stories brings you joy, satisfaction, and the desire to keeping going and helping."

The answer to the question about how were you able to succeed and graduate, and how you will impact and change the world is really the same.

It is about letting go and letting become. There is a 'who we are' and 'who we can be.'  'What we dream' and 'what we make happen,' but in the end, what 'we become' and 'what we do' is limited only by our willingness to believe and allow.

As Elizabeth Meittnis told me, "If I were starting my Molloy journey, I would definitely tell myself to embrace who I am, and enjoy the ride."

So it was when you started at Molloy, and so it is when you start the next chapter.

As Anthony Ricigliano said to me, "I remember at one point in the latter half of my sophomore year, I came to an epiphany that I was saying "no" to almost half of the opportunities I was presented with. I realized this was limiting me in my experiences of trips, social events, internships and projects, and I firmly resolved to say "yes" more. I can't help but wonder what doors would have been open for me had I come into my Freshman year eager to jump into every opportunity.  If I could give some tips to my freshman year self, I'd tell him... to go ahead and take that leap of faith."

So this is my advice to you, go ahead, take a leap of faith - say "Yes" and change the world!

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