Pace Magazine

Embrace the Journey: Inspiring the Class of 2024

July 10, 2024
Pace University students at the 2024 commencement ceremony.

Standing before a sea of eager faces at Pace University’s Commencement, Tony Award-winning actor LaChanze addressed the graduating class of 2024 with a message of liberation and creativity.

“Let go of the reins that you have held onto for the past few years,” she urged. “Let go of the impulse to control outcomes. Let go of the voices in your head telling you to worry, to be anxious, and to fear the unknown. This challenge is meant to assure you that by letting go, you make room for this new perspective. For inspiration, creativity, and the energy you will need to keep evolving.”

Before a crowd of nearly 20,000, including 4,093 graduates, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, LaChanze shared her journey from the Broadway stage to other creative endeavors. She reminded students that while the path to their dreams would not always be easy, the rewards would be worth every effort.

Your hard work and dedication have brought you to this pivotal moment. As you embark on your new journeys, I encourage you to stay true to your values, embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and pursue your dreams with relentless determination.

The day was filled with memorable moments. LaChanze, honored with a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa, was one of many highlights in a celebration that featured five ceremonies, student speakers, a vibrant food village, music, and an array of Commencement festivities. Nearly 4,100 degrees were conferred, including 2,382 master’s degrees—the largest number in over five years.

The Elisabeth Haub School of Law, recently ranked No. 1 for Environmental Law by U.S. News & World Report for the fourth consecutive year, graduated 254 students. Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, the Honorable Rowan D. Wilson, received the Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, in recognition of his lifelong contributions to public service and the legal profession.

“Put honesty first, whether you are interacting with courts, clients, adversaries or colleagues,” Judge Wilson advised. “Remember that the historical core of your profession is compassion, not craftiness. Devote some meaningful measure of your time to helping those who cannot afford your assistance but desperately need it.”

Paul Levitz, former president of DC Comics, addressed the joint ceremony for the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Sands College of Performing Arts, and School of Education. He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. David L. Reich, MD, President of The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai Queens, spoke to graduates of the College of Health Professions and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. Pace also honored Angella and Danroy Henry, founders of the DJ Henry Dream Fund and parents of former Pace student Danroy “DJ” Henry Jr., with the Opportunitas in Action Award. DJ Henry’s life was tragically cut short on October 17, 2010, when he was shot and killed by a Pleasantville police officer.

Pace University President Marvin Krislov commended the graduates for their strength and resilience, particularly noting that many did not have a high school graduation in 2020. “Everyone has faced obstacles—a health challenge, a career setback, a loss,” Krislov said. “But I have learned that everyone has kindness, generosity, and unique talents. As you move forward through the world, I urge you to always practice empathy.”

In closing, Krislov asked graduates to remember three things: to commit to being citizens of the world and keep learning; to be open and share their stories with others and learn from their stories; and to remain active members of the Pace Community.

New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and addressed graduates via video. “Your hard work and dedication have brought you to this pivotal moment,” she said. “As you embark on your new journeys, I encourage you to stay true to your values, embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and pursue your dreams with relentless determination.”

Relive Commencement 2024! Check out all of our photos from the day. 

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