From left are valedictorian Armen Sahakan '13, honorary degree recipient Miguel A. Pozo, Esq., LLD H'13, valedictorian James Lethbridge '13, and honorary degree recipient Maxine Roach DFA H'13.
While the dark, threatening clouds respectfully remained in the distance, Bloomfield College’s 140th Commencement celebrated the success of more than 300 students who received bachelor of arts, bachelor of science and master of science degrees.
Included now in the class of 2013 are Miguel A. Pozo LLD H’13 and Maxine Roach DFA H’13. Their messages to the graduating class were profound, humorous, and contained solid advice for those who were about to enter their careers. Mr. Pozo began his address with a quote from Winton Churchhill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” He continued by telling the crowd to stay true to themselves; that their personal history is a source of pride because it is what got them to where they are today. He said that life is like a basketball game and that opportunities are to be taken advantage of, even if they don’t work out “Take the shot,” he said. “You will miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” He charged the assembly to define their own success then become successful, remembering that none of us succeed by accident. In a surprise twist in his story, he said, “Thank the Mrs. Smith in your lives.” Mrs. Smith, a pseudonym, was a guidance counselor he had who told him that college was not in his future. This statement ignited a spark in him to prove her wrong. “I could have listened to her, or I could define my own success and take the shot,” he said. Today, as a successful attorney and partner, he will be heading the largest organization for Hispanic attorneys nationwide that advocates on behalf of Hispanic attorneys, students and community. “As you chase your dreams, do not forget to help others,” he continued. “When you take the elevator to the top floor, send it back down for the next person.”
Ms. Roach began who address by proclaiming that she is a working musician, which is an accomplishment and testament to her drive towards a dream. She redefined the conventional wisdom of the word privilege by saying that the people in her life who believed in her gave her that sense of privilege. Her mother insisted that she get a good education and practice her music. Her music teacher took a personal interest in her talents as a violist and made it possible for her to change to a better school by bending a few rules. Her father exposed her to many different genres of music, giving her an appreciation for all music. While privilege in some circles means financial wealth, to Ms. Roach, it meant having an internal sense of being given all those things she needed to succeed in her field. “Carry your privilege forward,” she counseled the graduates. “Be humble, be responsible, and be on time!”
This year, Bloomfield College is proud to present two valedictorians, James C. Lethbridge ’13 and Armen V. Sahakan ’13, both summa cum laude graduates. Mr. Lethbridge focused his address on the motto of Bloomfield College, “Lux in Tenebris” or light from darkness. He charged his fellow graduates to be that light in an ever darkening world by saying “Our experiences at Bloomfield College have trained us to be the champions of reason in an age of madness, the combatants for truth in a day of falsehood, the soldiery of wisdom in a time of folly. It is only by utilizing what we have learned here that we will be able to stem the tide of darkness in the world. WE must show the world how we have been able to transcend the capricious boundaries of race. WE must show the world how it is possible to care for each other in brotherly love. WE must be the light in the darkness.”
Mr. Sahakan talked about his homeland of Armenia and the growth of this country through perseverance and belief in one’s heritage after years of persecution. He counseled his classmates with “My message today to you is to firstly have a dream. A big one. If your dreams do not frighten you for a split second, then you probably do not dream big enough. If you do not dream big enough, then you probably will not live your life fully enough. Go after your dreams no matter what and do not give up too early. It might take some time, a millennium for Armenians, but if you have faith and work hard, you should succeed sooner or later.” Mr. Sahakan came to this country at the age of 15, and took full advantage of the opportunities presented to him, including working with the Armenian National Committee as an intern and will be interning in the Armenian mission to the United Nations, after which he will be studying at Johns Hopkins University for his master’s degree.
The morning was filled with shouts of congratulations, tears of happiness and joy, and pride as the families, friends, and loved ones gathered to celebrate what is a monumental achievement for the class of 2013.
Photos of the event can be seen here. Please check back as more photos will be added in the next few weeks.