Past Keynote Addresses

Jenna Rabadi – Health Science Class of 2011

Good morning faculty, staff, advisors, family, friends, and fellow graduates.  First and foremost, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Health Science class of 2012. We did it. Today is the beginning of the rest of our lives.

Let me begin by sharing a quote that holds enormous significance for this graduating class.  I realize that it is very typical to begin a graduation address with a quote, but I promise you that this one is worthwhile. 

Arie Pencovici once said, “Graduation is only a concept. In real life, every day you graduate. Graduation is a process that goes on until the last day of your life.  If you can grasp that, you’ll make a difference.”

 I believe that from the moment we are born, throughout our academic careers, and even beyond any formal education, we are constantly learning. Although our individual processes vary from one another, what they have in common is the gift of this day.  

Throughout our years at Stony Brook University, we have faced many academic and personal challenges.  These challenges have given us the strength and courage to endure many obstacles that this crazy little thing called life has thrown our way. I’m sure you are all familiar with the difficulty of your coursework and most of us would agree….thank goodness for the curves!

For many of us…entering Stony Brook University was our first time living away from home.  For others, it was also the first time we had sole responsibility for going to classes and completing assignments on time. Some of us had to grow up quicker than we may have anticipated. Suddenly we had complete control over our own lives, and many of us were not used to that. I have to admit, being in control was, at times, a bit scary.  I quickly realized that anything and everything that happened to you was now based upon the decisions that YOU made….the paths YOU took, and the people YOU interacted with. 

In hindsight, we wouldn’t be here today if we did not make a few good decisions over the past few years.  Knowing that you ended up here today, I ask you — Would you take back any of those decisions, including the not so good ones? Maybe taking that extra class, joining that organization, or dating that one person has impacted you so greatly that you simply wouldn’t be the person you are today.

I think we can all agree that there is one decision that has influenced all of us and that is declaring our major in Health Science.  Being Health Science majors we took the same classes in the fall and split up into various concentrations in the spring. Each semester helped foster deep and meaningful relationships with faculty and fellow students.  During our fall semester, the lessons of Health Care Ethics, Communications, Health Care Issues, Informatics and Professional Writing were drilled into our brains….no matter how hard our senioritis tried to fight them off.   

To get here today we have all put in a tremendous amount of work.  Our commitment to our education has been a powerful force in our lives. Remember that control that I was talking about earlier? Well here’s where it came in to play.  Even with the freedom of adulthood, we still set our priorities straight and gave ourselves the single most important thing in life — FAITH;   faith in ourselves, faith in our peers, faith in our faculty, all of which has driven us to positively influence the world around us. 

Our diplomas are tactile evidence that we believed in ourselves and our ability to better the world around us. Our professors, especially during this senior year, have been demonstrating to us that change in the world starts with us….from within.

Our journey beyond Stony Brook University starts with us.  Tonight when all of the celebrations have ended I invite you to take a good long look at the person you have become. Think of all of the goals that you have accomplished and all of the obstacles you have overcome.  Be proud of the person you are today; not many people can say that they have made it this far.  The time and effort each and every one of us has put into bettering ourselves will carry forward and will hopefully inspire others.  Together….we can make a difference, and together….we will.

Ruth Westheimers once said, “My favorite animal is the turtle. The reason is that in order for the turtle to move, it has to stick its neck out.  There are going to be times in your life when you’re going to have to stick your neck out.  There will be challenges and instead of hiding in a shell, you have to go out and meet them.”

Here’s to the Health Science Class of 2012. Congratulations!  


Alex Sanchez - Health Science Program 2005   

Good Afternoon family, friends, faculty, and the class of 2005. I welcome you today to share with me and my fellow classmates what is considered to be one of the happiest and most rewarding day of our lives. This has been a journey that has been taken by many, but completed by few. When I was asked to present a speech at graduation, I was honored but at the same time extremely worried.  I mean, what was a quiet soft-spoken individual like me going to say? My biggest concern of all was figuring out how I was going to represent my fellow classmates and more importantly the individuals who have motivated me to reach my goals in life and become the person I am today.

As I begin to think about my experience at Stony Brook, I realize that the last four years have not only been some of my defining moments, but it has made me who I am. When I first entered Stony Brook, I was extremely excited. For the first time in my life I felt independent.  There wasn’t anyone around to tell me what to do and I felt very confident as an individual. I thought I knew what was best for me and every decision I made was the right one. At the time, my EOP counselors found it important to present thousands of lectures on time management. They insisted that this would be the only way to succeed in college.  Well, they were right!  During my early  years at Stony Brook I didn’t manage my time well, but one thing I was able to manage was changing my major practically every semester!  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I had a passion for computers but I didn’t want to major in computer science. Although, I was an economics major, I didn’t know where I was heading. I was very confused and felt that I had wasted my first two years at Stony Brook.  It wasn’t until a friend approached me and told me about the Health Science major and their Informatics concentration that I began to feel that I might have found some  direction. With much intent, I researched the program and I decided that the Health Science major was for me.

My experience in the Health Science program was wonderful. I knew what concentration I wanted to focus on and I was determined to make the best out of it. The first semester I met a lot of new people and the classes were great. They were also interesting and opened our eyes to many of the problems that people are confronted with in a healthcare setting.  Before the start of the second semester, I began to get worried. I was the first and only person registered for the Informatics concentration but I remained determined to succeed and harassed Jean-Marie and Carmen on a daily basis to keep the concentration open! Luckily, five more people registered for the concentration and we had a successful semester.  Our professors taught us cutting-edge technologies, real life situations and strategies useful in healthcare settings. I feel they have definitely guided all of us into the right path for a successful career.

Someone once told me that obstacles are what you see when you suddenly take your eyes off your goals and I am definitely grateful for those who have helped me overcome the obstacles I’ve faced and offered me words of support in my efforts to complete this degree. My parents, not only did they care for me, love me, and believed in me, they instilled in me the value of an education.  My sister is not only my role model but a person who has helped pave the way for me to succeed. My brother taught me determination and courage. He also taught me to always finish something you start.  My best friend and soul mate reminded me everyday of my goals and dreams. My fraternity brothers were always there when I needed them most and made me the man I am today.  My friends have always been there to share some words of encouragement and advice.  The health Science staff; Jean-Marie, Carmen, Traci, and Debbie, you have truly made a difference in our lives. Your willingness to help us individually, and care for our progress in this program, has played a significant role in the experiences and knowledge we have gained here at Stony Brook.

Our education is truly the key to success, which will open the doors to many great opportunities for all of us. I want to remind you that it is not the education that is valuable, but how we utilize that education to benefit ourselves and others. Our experience here at Stony Brook has given us the confidence to believe in ourselves, to believe that one-day we will accomplish things that others thought impossible.

Congratulations to the Class of 2005 and best of luck on your future endeavors!