Touro College Division of Graduate Studies (DGS) celebrated the achievements of 1,300 graduates from its six schools at the division’s second virtual commencement, held Thursday, June 17.
The ceremony was a mix of celebration and optimism, combined with recollections of adversity overcome and reminders of the value of helping one another, and the world, heal.
Over 1,000 tuned in, and nearly as many comments were posted on a live chat by friends, family, and faculty – from as far away as Bangladesh and as close as Hicksville, Long Island, where a fifth-grade class joined the celebration.
Speakers included Touro leadership and the deans and top students from each of the division’s graduate schools: Business, Education, Health Sciences, Jewish Studies, Technology, and Social Work. US Senator Charles Schumer delivered a congratulatory message, as well.
“Be a Healer”
In his congratulatory remarks, Touro College and University System (TCUS) President Dr. Alan Kadish, said, “For the rest of your lives, I am certain that you will be presented with personal and professional challenges. And I am equally certain that you will draw upon the skills and experiences you gained from Touro and harness the same engines of perseverance and dedication that brought you to this moment, to make a marked difference in the lives of those around you. Everyone has an opportunity to be a healer in a world that truly needs healing. Never has that been true more than today.”
DGS Vice President Dr. Nadja Graff congratulated the graduates and urged them to accept the challenges ahead. “Be confident in the knowledge that you have the skills, dedication, and determination to make a positive impact on our global society,” she said.
Top Students Deliver Reflections
The students thanked family, friends, and their professors for their support and kindness, and shared their thoughts about their journeys:
Miriam Kleiner, MS, Industrial Organizational Psychology, School of Health Sciences, obtained her BS in Psychology at Lander College of Arts & Sciences and currently is Director of Investor Relations and Human Resources at Shelbourne Co., a real estate investment syndication and management company. A native of Brooklyn and 4.0 honors student at SHS, where she tutored advanced courses, Kleiner is admired for her passion for growth and helping people make positive changes in their lives. At work, she manages over 300 investors and over 20 employees. “IO is the perfect combination of the psychology world, which I love, and the business world, which is fast-paced and constantly evolving,” says Kleiner.
Ian Baum, MSW, Graduate School of Social Work, earned a BA at Touro’s School for Lifelong Education and an MS in General and Special Education before pursuing social work. A 4.0 honors student, Baum was chosen by classmates to speak because of his positive attitude and commitment to help others in need. His interest in social work began as a counselor and then administrator at a treatment center for children with behavioral disorders. During school he worked three jobs: as an administrator at Yeshiva Ketana of Long Island, a high school teacher at Mesivta Ateres Yaakov in Cedarhurst, and administrator of a behavior modification program at the Diamond Program in Far Rockaway. He also interned at Outreach House in Ridgewood, Queens, and was a UJA Graduate Fellow. “Our world, our nation, our communities and our families have experienced such pain and tragedy, with the burden so overwhelming, that to give up would be both acceptable and expected. But we did not. We lifted ourselves up and we pushed through. Because that is who we are,” he said.
Aharon Friedler, MA, Graduate School of Jewish Studies, is a Torah scholar and a member of the faculty of the Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, where he has taught at the high school, middle school, and elementary school levels. He received semichah from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg z”l. In his remarks, Rabbi Friedler noted that using Zoom and other remote media during the pandemic forced him and his classmates to experience what their own students experience as learners. “For many in the world, and especially for us graduate students, the world as we knew it…and the world we live in now has changed dramatically,” he said. “But while the platform for delivery has been one untested…the goal has never changed,” he said. Paraphrasing the Talmud, the goal of an educator must be to “ignite that candle in their students until the flame within their students will rise by itself.”