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Class of 2014 Zero Year Reunion Brunch

“Marking An Important Transition”

Remarks by
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Heffner Alumni House, Great Room
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Good afternoon, Class of 2014.

Congratulations to the Achievement Award winners for your accomplishments and the well-deserved recognition. Congratulations, as well, to the entire class, for you nearly have survived a full Senior Week of fun!

As we close out the week, and quickly move towards awarding you your diplomas, this morning presents an opportunity officially to welcome you as Rensselaer alumni and alumnae, by celebrating your “Zero Year Reunion.”

To begin, I first must acknowledge several individuals for their contributions to the Class of 2014, and ask that they stand, if they are here.

First, Michelle Lamberta, Class President, and Lauren Laing, Senior Week Chair. Michelle and Lauren, I want to commend you for your leadership of a successful program for Senior Week, which has engaged your fellow classmates in unprecedented numbers.

The Senior Week committee members also should stand and be recognized for their efforts: Elizabeth Anderson, Maureen Ezude, Vicki Lam, Lincoln Noggle, Katelyn O’Neil, Mackenzie Ott, and Elizabeth Postel.

Next, we highlight the newly elected members of your Alumni Class Council leadership: Kevin Dai, President; Michelle Denny, Vice President; Caitlin Blackburn, Treasurer; and Katie O’Neil, Secretary.

Thank you for assuming these important roles as your class members move from being students to alumni and alumnae.

Finally, Caitlin Blackburn, please remain standing. I thank you for serving as Senior Class Gift Chair. I also want to acknowledge all of you who have funded the Class of 2014 gift, the benches in the Great Hall of the Darrin Communications Center. Of the nearly 200 students who contributed to the gift, 47 of you contributed at a level to qualify you as Student Patroons. This level exceeds the Patroon participation of the Class of 2013 by 100 percent, illustrating the strong commitment many of you felt to this project.

On behalf of the entire Rensselaer community, I thank you for your generosity and all that it means to the Institute. The memory of your class will live on through this gift, as future generations enjoy a common space in which to study and relax in between classes.

This gift is another reminder of the difference you have made on this campus, and, at Rensselaer overall, throughout the past several years. It is now time to make your impact as Rensselaer alumni and alumnae.

Once you walk across the stage on Saturday, you join the ranks of distinguished individuals who have come before you, and have been at the forefront of discovery and innovation in business, science, education, engineering, architecture, media, and the arts. They have built bridges, probed outer space, revolutionized entire industries, and expanded humanity’s store of knowledge.

We expect no less of you.

Marking the transition from students to alumni and alumnae at Commencement is a longstanding tradition at Rensselaer. Your fellow Class of ’14—the Class of 1914—did this in rather spectacular fashion. They held a Grand Pageant for all past Rensselaer graduates and current undergraduates to foster deeper connections between the classes. They even asked for all classes to dress in costume.

While we will not insist—and you did not ask—that you dress in costume and parade through the City of Troy, we do encourage you to remain connected with each other, and to connect with fellow Rensselaer graduates—whether it be through your smart phones, tablets, smart watches, or Google Glasses. Engage with the Rensselaer Alumni Association, and become active participants in the alumni social networks, and you will find a variety of resources to benefit you.

I recently was in Seattle at the Museum of Flight, home of the original manufacturing plant of The Boeing Company, to bring alumni and alumnae in the great Northwest news about the exciting things happening at Rensselaer. This event allowed me to meet with nearly 100 alumni and alumnae, ranging from the Class of 1945 to the Class of 2013. It also strengthened the bond shared by this group of distinguished Rensselaer graduates in the region. Events such as this take place throughout the year, all over the country, and all over the world.

Wherever your careers, travels, or studies may take you in the coming years, you are certain to find Rensselaer alumni and alumnae nearby. But, please know that you always have a home here on the Troy campus. Come back as often as you wish, especially each October for Reunion and Homecoming.

I close today by thanking each of you—members of the great Class of 2014. I thank you for all you have done for Rensselaer during the past four years, and for all that you will do in the years to come to prove the value of a Rensselaer education, as you change the world.

I look forward to seeing you and your families on Saturday.


Source citations are available from the division of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Statistical data contained herein were factually accurate at the time it was delivered. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute assumes no duty to change it to reflect new developments.

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