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"You are among the best of the best"

grads wave

(Hajim School graduates wave to family and friends after filing into Kodak Hall for the school's diploma ceremony.
Click here for a photo gallery.)

May 18, 2014 -- "You are among the best of the best," Dean Robert Clark told recipients of bachelor's and master's degrees at the Hajim School diploma ceremony today at Kodak Hall.

"You have focused on an education that allows you to tackle many of society's grand challenges, to create and design an alternative future. You have focused on an education that will allow you to explore your personal creativity. You are artists of technology."

The Hajim School Class of 2014 includes 247 seniors, 186 master's students and 54 Ph.D. students. They have benefited from the global perspective of learning alongside international students on campus, and time spent studying abroad, Clark said.

"You have focused on an education that places you at the intersection of engineering, technology, science, the arts and the humanities: All the essential ingredients for your future career in innovation.

"You have focused on an education that has positioned you to lead.

"Do so with responsibility."

"Your opportunities are totally unlimited"

University President Joel Seligman introduced Edmund A. Hajim, the University's Board of Trustees chairman, for whom the Hajim School is named, as someone who "lives and breathes meliora" -- the University motto, meaning ever better. "No one in recent memory has done more to make a difference at the University of Rochester than Ed Hajim."

Hajim, who graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from UR, told the graduates "Nothing was hard after I finished an engineering degree at the University of Rochester. The education you just received will take you a long way no matter what you do. As engineers your opportunities are totally unlimited."

"Don't let anybody tell you that you didn't come into a golden age. For engineers with the right attitude, you're only limited by your imagination and your hard work."

He urged the graduates to be flexible and open to new directions in their career paths. "Try to find something where there is a great need, where you see five to 10 years from now a great demand -- what I call catching a wave. If you can catch a wave, one or two in your lifetime, you're home free. You'll be able to innovate, you'll be able to express yourself, to make some money and have some fun-- if the wind is at your back."

Work-life balance is critical

In his commencement address, Jack Carmola,the school's distinguished alumnus award winner and retired segment president for Goodrich Corporation, urged the graduates to find their passion, find an organization with the right culture, and keep the right work-life balance in their careers.

"As you think about what you're going to do next, you may be tempted to get into 50, 60, 70, and 80-hours a week. That's okay in the short term, but it isn't okay in the long term." Finding a work-life balance that leaves time for other interests, community service and family "is critical to making you more successful. When you find that balance you will be a better leader, a better employee, a better contributor."

"Pushing the envelope" of technology

Preparatory to handing out diplomas, Wendi Heinzelman, Dean of Graduate Studies for Arts, Sciences and Engineering, and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, shared some insights she gained the previous weekend while spending 24 hours aboard the super carrier USS Carl Vinson near San Diego. (Read more here.)

"The technology on board that ship was just incredible. From the optics of the laser-guided missiles, to the aircraft-to-ship communications systems, to the advanced materials science involved in creating the antiradar detection coatings of the planes, to the computer systems running every aspect of that ship, to the biomedical devices available in the ship's hospital:  Every single discipline in engineering was represented aboard this ship."

"And while many of us will never have the opportunity to serve our country the way these sailors do every day," she added,  "we do all have the opportunity to use our skills in engineering and the training you have achieved to continue pushing the envelope of these technologies. The work we do in our research labs and our companies is directly responsible for the advanced technology that I witnessed on this ship. And each one of us can do our part to put our skills to good use to help advance the technological prowess of this great country."

Dean Clark urged the graduates to "look to your future with optimism and enthusiasm. As I look out at each of you today, I can promise you that's how I view the future."


Ryan Trombetta is going to Berlin. The biomedical engineering PhD student in Prof. Hani Awad’s lab took first place at the University’s first annual Falling Walls competition recently, earning him an all-expenses paid trip to the November international conference of the same name.

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