At Touro’s Lander Colleges 44th commencement, 614 students received with bachelor’s degrees and 111 earned associate degrees, at Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall.
Graduating students accepted their diplomas from Touro College and University System President Dr. Alan Kadish, Chairman of the Board Dr. Mark Hasten, and the Lander College deans — Dr. Robert Goldschmidt of Lander College of Arts & Sciences in Flatbush, Dr. Moshe Sokol of Lander College for Men in Queens, and Dr. Marian Stoltz-Loike of Lander College for Women the Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School in Manhattan.
“We, the Jewish people, have a job to do in this world. We must project our greatest and most humane values outward into society, leading the culture in being reflective and constructively critical of our way of life, Kadish said in his address.
“Historically, it has been mightily challenging for the Jewish people in every society and every generation,” he said. “But our story has always been, and always will be, one of progress and ascent.”
“What will your place be in this story?” he continued. “How will your generation contribute to our upward trajectory and harness Jewish optimism and faith to make our story, as well as the broader world’s, a more beautiful and humane one?”
Touro’s valedictorians took the message to heart and responded in kind.
Joshua Goldmeier, valedictorian of Lander College for Men, flew in from Israel to attend the program. After finishing classes in January, he moved to Israel, where he is enrolled in an elite, ten-month machine learning program, to pursue a career in artificial intelligence.
“Lander cultivates an environment rich with an understanding of why we educate,” Goldmeier said. “The rabbeim and faculty taught us that education isn’t only about memorizing information or a number on a college transcript. It’s about how that information translates into becoming a better person and a better oved Hashem, something GPA can never measure.”
Helene (Chanie) Weinreb, valedictorian of the School for Women at Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush, said that “when one speaks of ‘changing the world,’ one tends to think of the great names in history: Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Christopher Columbus, and others who remind us of the momentous transformations one man or woman can effect. Contemplating one’s own abilities in comparison could well leave one with a sense of hopelessness. But, remember this — changing the world always begins with changing one’s own immediate circumstances.” Weinreb will start a doctoral program in physical therapy at Touro’s School of Health Sciences this fall.
Betzalel Krasnow, the first second generation student valedictorian of the School for Men at Lander College of Arts and Sciences in Flatbush, reminded his peers that achieving their dreams requires determination and grit. “We have all heard of Thomas Edison, the brilliant inventor of the light bulb. What many do not know is the number of times it took a young Thomas Edison to perfect the light bulb,” Krasnow said. After a particularly trying day at Menlo Park, Edison said, ‘I have not failed., I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’ Edison would not allow his failures to interfere with his dream of success.” This fall Krasnow, a father of two, will start dental school.
Ayelet Schwerd, valedictorian of Lander College for Women the Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School, aspires to synthesize psychological tools and Torah principles and mores to elevate behavioral standards in the frum community. Next year, she plans to begin a PsyD program at Rutgers University, one of the top-ranked programs in the nation. Her ultimate goal is to specialize in child and adolescent psychology. “Touro College programs insulate students while providing them with the tools and the strength to go into the world and thrive—the gumption and confidence to be a member of society but on our terms,” Schwerd explained.