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2018 New York University Stern Baccalaureate Ceremony
Written by Hyunjun Bok | Published. 2018.06.20 13:35 | Count : 308

Normally, theater is a place to visit when one is hungry for entertainment while dressed comfortably with their mouth filled with popcorns. However, on Friday, May 18th, the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden, New York, was different. People weren't dressed casually nor they were munching on foods, in fact they were dressed formally and looked rather tensed. It was all because of the “New York University (NYU) Stern School of Business Undergraduate Baccalaureate Ceremony” that took place. 

Named one of the most prestigious business schools in the world, NYU Stern is famous for their mentionable qualities. Located in New York City and surrounded with areas like Wall Street as well as Times Square, the school provides plenty of job opportunities related to business; its undergraduate class flaunts an impressive mean salary of $72,397. Stern also gives students options to study abroad in 29 different countries. NYU Stern celebrated its 118th year with another successful class, filled with students with supreme potentials and skills.  

The audiences were mostly parents, as the casts of the show were students. NYU Stern students whom worked extremely hard to celebrate this day were all welcomed by relatives from different cities, states, and countries. The violet flag representing NYU Stern was proudly held up behind the main stage, while the ceiling lights reminded streams of stars in the dark night sky. Furthermore, the theater’s structure was set such that all spectators could focus on the real stars of the day.

[A glimpse of the ceremony from my seat, photo owned by Hyunjun Bok]

As mentioned before, the audiences were all dressed formally, adults were wearing neat dresses and suits while kids wore collared shirts. Exceptionally heavy make ups were also observable that morning. Majority of the audiences were sitting straight with their arms pointing forward, holding their cameras. Every person in the room did not want to forget this event. Just as peoples’ arms were starting to get sore, the audio speakers began to play resonant melodies implying the start of the graduation. 

The doors on each wall were widely opened as candidates stepped in the theater in line while finding their seats. Subsequently, Andrew D. Hamilton, the President of New York University, welcomed the audiences and officially congratulated the students. He started his speech by recognizing the effort the students made individually in order to complete their necessary courses. Unfortunately, after some advices for the students, President Hamilton had to leave Madison Square due to his schedule; he had four other NYU graduation convocations to visit that day.

Perhaps, one of the many beauties of college graduation is the heartfelt speeches made. This year’s distinguished speaker for class of 2018 NYU Stern was Tad Smith, widely known as the President and CEO of Sotheby’s, an art dealer company. Smith filled his speech with his major life experiences that taught him valuable lessons. He quoted: “It does not matter where you start, where you end is” as his main motto, wishing that graduates from Stern this year will follow it as well. 

Subsequently, the recognition of the candidates for graduation began as students walked on the stage officially announcing their graduation. “Seohee Bok” as my sister’s name was called upon my family and I cheered for her. As soon as the last student sat down, the Dean of the Undergraduate College, Geeta Menon, formally ended the ceremony and students expressed their happiness by throwing their graduation hats into the air. 

Interestingly, I, as an audience, felt a strong connection towards the students. I was happy for them, feeling the proud accomplishment as if I were one of them. In a sudden moment, I wondered what it took for the students to manage their work in order to graduate such a school like NYU Stern. Therefore, I reached out to the class of 2018 honor graduate of Stern, Seohee Bok, to ask couple of questions. 

[Picture of me and Seohee in front of the Madison Square Garden,
photo owned by Hyunjun Bok]

What did it take for you to accomplish this graduation?
“For an international student like myself, successfully graduating means a lot more than being good at studying and passing your classes. Living in a melting pot like America, I had to spend a lot more time learning the social rules of different cultures than studying my books. It was so easy to feel the tension between diverse social groups (race, socioeconomic class, etc), and having my own stance helped me overcome the stress from such dissonance. Self-love was also a key; much encouragement is needed at some point in the four years.”

Was it always glorious as the graduation?
“No. College is the perfect segway between being a child and being an adult. Being a child may mean having the time of your life, but being an adult means filling out taxes, cooking your own meals, and doing your laundries. Laundries are never glorious.”

Interview with Seohee Bok left me thinking more deeply about life in United States colleges. Oftentimes, students think of academic challenges they will face at an university, but not of social struggles. I too was not aware of the issue until the interview; thus, I started to wonder if I would be able to overcome the challenges as the graduates of Stern did. Even though, it can be difficult and overwhelming, I still believe with thorough preparation and consistent determination for success, I will one day be the gleaming star as the stars I have seen on the graduation. 



Hyunjun Bok
St. Mark’s School 

Hyunjun Bok  student_reporter@dherald.com

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