Press Release

Press Release: LaChanze, Tony Award-Winning Actor, Addresses Grads at 2024 Pace University Commencement

Posted
May 20, 2024
Pace University students at the 2024 commencement ceremony.

NEW YORK, N.Y. May 20, 2024 – Standing before thousands of graduates and their supporters at Pace University’s Commencement, Tony Award-winning actor LaChanze addressed the graduating class of 2024.

“Let go of the reins that you have held onto for the past few years,” she said. “Let go of the impulse to control outcome. 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.”

Speaking to roughly 20,000 people including 4,093 graduates at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, LaChanze shared her journey to Broadway and beyond, reminding students that while following their dreams wouldn’t always be easy, the rewards would always be worth the effort.

LaChanze, who received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree, honoris causa, was among many highlights throughout the day that included five ceremonies, student speakers, a food village, music, and lots of Commencement festivities. The day culminated with the conferral of nearly 4,100 degrees including 2,382 masters’, which is the largest number in over five years. In a graduation reflective of Pace’s theme of Opportunitas, graduates and their families celebrated a day of joy, achievement and looking forward to the future.

In addition, the Elisabeth Haub School of Law, which recently earned the No. 1 ranking 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, the highest honor conferred by the Law School, recognizing his lifelong contributions to public service and the legal profession.

“Put honesty first, whether you are interacting with courts, clients, adversaries or colleagues,” said Judge Wilson. “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 who desperately need it.”

Former president of DC Comics Paul Levitz addressed the joint afternoon ceremony for the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Sands College of Performing Arts, and School of Education where he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. President of The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai Queens, David L. Reich, MD addressed graduates of the College of Health Professions and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. Pace also awarded Angella and Danroy Henry, parents of former Pace student Danroy “DJ” Henry Jr. and founders of the DJ Henry Dream Fund, with its Opportunitas in Action Award.

DJ Henry was a Pace Student and a member of the football team. His life was tragically cut short on October 17, 2010 when he was shot and killed by a Pleasantville police officer.

During the main ceremony, Pace University President Marvin Krislov told the graduates he was incredibly proud of them and was impressed by their strength and resilience. He noted that many of the graduates did not have a high school graduation in 2020. Thus, making this ceremony more meaningful for them, their families, and their friends.

“Everyone has faced obstacles — a health challenge, a career setback, a loss,” said President Krislov. “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 the graduates to remember three things: to commit to being citizens of the world and keep learning; to be open and share their story with others and learn others’ stories; and to remain active and part of the Pace Community.

In addition to the main ceremony, New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.

“Your hard work and dedication have brought you to this pivotal moment,” said Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins to graduates via video. “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.”

Students celebrating this exciting achievement were a mix of undergraduate, graduate, law, and doctoral students, spanning a variety of disciplines and future careers, such as nurses and physician assistants, cybersecurity experts, lawyers, accountants, teachers, performers, and much more.

Number of Graduates by School

College of Health Professions

  • Undergraduate: 244
  • Graduate: 381

Dyson College of Arts and Sciences

  • Undergraduate: 683
  • Graduate: 286

Lubin School of Business

  • Undergraduate: 510
  • Graduate: 437

Sands College of Performing Arts

  • Undergraduate: 138
  • Graduate: 22

Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems

  • Undergraduate: 92
  • Graduate: 731

School of Education

  • Undergraduate: 44
  • Graduate: 271

Elisabeth Haub School of Law

  • 254 JD degrees
  • 10 Master of Laws in Comparative Legal Studies
  • 7 Master of Laws in Environmental Studies
  • 1 Doctor of Juridical Science

About Pace University

Since 1906, Pace University has been transforming the lives of its diverse students—academically, professionally, and socioeconomically. With campuses in New York City and Westchester County, Pace offers bachelor, master, and doctoral degree programs to 13,600 students in its College of Health Professions, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Lubin School of Business, School of Education, Sands College of Performing Arts, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.

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