April 18, 2024
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Touro University Celebrates Graduate Division Commencement

Over 1,340 graduates gather at Coney Island amphitheater to honor the class of 2022 from six graduate division schools.

(Courtesy of Touro University) With the sun shining brightly on the beach and boardwalk nearby, Touro University welcomed over 1,340 master’s degree recipients from its Division of Graduate Studies to the Amphitheater at Coney Island on June 14 for the division’s first live commencement since 2019.

“You will look back on this time … as a time of great challenge, but also a time where you’ve learned the skills of coming together as a community, and of perseverance. Those skills, in addition to the technical knowledge you obtained at Touro, will allow you to be extraordinarily successful both personally and professionally,” said Touro University President Dr. Alan Kadish. “Now more than ever the world needs you, and I know you’re up to the task.”

Division Vice President Dr. Nadja Graff, who is stepping down after more than 40 years at Touro, also encouraged the graduates to accept challenges ahead, and to be confident they can make a positive impact in the world. “Go forward and help others reach their goals. Stay focused. Stay lifelong learners. Stay committed to your values and beliefs,” she said.

 

Students Speak

Student speakers from the graduate schools comprising the divisions—business, education, Jewish studies, social work, technology and health sciences—each shared personal reflections:

Mollie Kahn, M.S. in Human Resources Management, who graduated with a 4.0, shared that Touro’s evening classes helped her obtain her degree and secure a promotion at her full-time day job at Kuhne+Nagel, a global supply and logistics company.

“One of the reasons cited for my promotion was I took the initiative to pursue my master’s degree. They knew that the quality education I received at Touro would pay off for them as well,” said Kahn.

Susanne Trachtenberg, M.S. in Jewish Childhood Education and Special Education, finished with a 3.95 GPA. She teaches at The Shefa School, a Jewish community-based school in Manhattan for students with language-based learning disabilities. Now completing her fourth year at Shefa, Trachtenberg said she became a teacher because school was hard for her growing up.

“I often dreamt of a good teacher who would teach me in the best way for me, while also making me feel confident and happy in school. I strive to be that teacher,” she said. At Touro, she learned new curricular models and classroom management techniques, but more importantly, she was reminded of the student experience. “It has made me a better, more empathetic teacher, who knows I must continue to learn from my mistakes and triumphs,” she said.

Shmuel Yudelzon, M.A. in Jewish Studies, who grew up in the small Jewish community of Bulgaria, shared his thoughts on the importance of studying history. “It is before our eyes daily,” he said, using as an example an ongoing dispute over historical narratives between his native Bulgaria and neighboring North Macedonia that he said is shaping both international relations and internal national politics. “History matters. History is identity. We all seek it. It allows us to transcend the present. Our future is tied to it.”

Shira Shapiro, Master of Social Work, was selected by classmates to speak because of social work qualities she exhibited during the pandemic: creating an environment at school of inclusion, support and connectedness. She has accepted a full-time position at Sephardic Bikur Cholim Counseling Center in Brooklyn, where she interned as a counselor to families and children during school.

In her remarks, Shapiro emphasized the value of connection. “It’s true when they say social work is a work of the heart,” she said. “The unconditional act of giving of your own heart to nurture and connect with the hearts and souls of others—what can be more beautiful than that?”

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