Before hundreds of family members, friends and Lesley University community members, the Threshold Program on May 9 sent the 18 students comprising its 30th graduating class toward their future.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Lesley University President Joseph Moore reminded the graduates that the ceremony is called “Commencement” because it signals the beginning of a lifetime of learning, as well as independence, not the conclusion of it.
“True independence is about being in charge of your own learning,” Moore said, adding that “active learning” involves students’ hearts and muscles, as well as their brains. Moore also said that maintaining a commitment to lifelong learning takes work, as the graduates have already experienced.
“You’re the ones who put in the effort to become the kind of person you are today,” he said.
And that kind of person is energetic, grateful and a whole lot of fun, if the Threshold student speakers are any indication.
Jesse Daffner spoke about crafting rap lyrics about teachers. Julia Lyons talked about becoming a pro at taking the MBTA, even though she initially worried she wouldn’t find her way around the area. Similarly, Lauren Hunt relished the opportunity to “experience the life of Boston.”
Tyree Alik Williams talked about playing games with his fellow students, from Ice Breaker to basketball, and stressed the importance of not giving up: “If Plan A doesn’t work, don’t worry: There are 25 other letters.”
And graduate Sara Kerr (“’Kerr-Kerr,’ because there were two Saras” in the class — the other being Sarah Munro) identified perhaps the most important takeaway from her time at Threshold:
“You made it possible to be a proud, independent adult.”
Delivering the graduation address, Dr. Arlyn Roffman, founding director of the Threshold Program, returned the compliment, saying, “You are remarkable, you are magnificent and you deserve the best that life has to offer you.”
“You probably think this program only affects students,” Roffman added, describing the ripple effect the changes the students make and their individual successes have on their parents, grandparents, friends and teachers. “You need to know how much you change us, too.”
Threshold is a comprehensive, non-degree, campus-based program at Lesley for highly motivated young adults with diverse learning challenges and other special needs.
On May 9, following the playing of the traditional Threshold Graduation number “Alan’s Song,” written by folksinger Tom Paxton and performed by musicians Billy Novic and Barry Johnston, then a stirring performance of “The Impossible Dream” by Threshold alumnus Daniel Levin (Class of ’06), the graduates received their certificates.
The dream, once thought impossible, was now reality.
“You can now flip your tassels,” said Threshold Director James Wilbur, to boisterous cheers.
Lesley University’s Threshold Program 30th class of graduates are:
Victoria Elizabeth Bunker, Jesse Salitsky Daffner, Conner Joseph Daly, John Thomas Flaherty, Lauren Elizabeth-Marie Hunt, Sara Kilby Kerr, Jason Dimitri Koch, Julia Hope Lyons, Emily Rebecca Mann, Sarah Munro, George John Pantazopoulos, Casey Madison Revman, Amy Helen Schoenbart, Jessica Darya Shyloski, Victor McClellan Schrager, Ruby Smolen, Michael Ryan Sullivan, and Tyree Alik Williams.
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