BEYOND THE SYLLABUS
Welcome, graduates, faculty, staff, family, and friends. I’m Jeremy Posluszny, an environmental and business economics major here at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. I am honored to address you today at our historic S.E.B.S. Convocation Ceremony. Though we may not be able to celebrate in person with each other, the screens and masks between us do not diminish today’s commemoration of the hard work, dedication, and persistence we have exhibited throughout our time here at Rutgers.
I fondly remember the feeling of the warm end-of-summer breeze blowing under the large oak trees and the smell of the food trucks while on campus. For many of us, the first day of classes included a greeting from our professors, an attendance roll call to make sure we showed up, and the coveted syllabus. Over the past few years, we received many of these guides, which helped us stay organized and prepared on our academic journey. Despite the rigor that came with a leading research university like Rutgers, our syllabi offered some guidance to the challenging semesters that would lie ahead.
But as we begin the next chapter in our lives—whether it be graduate school or the start of a career—the real world won’t offer such a step-by-step guide. Life is full of unanticipated obstacles and challenges. Thankfully, our time at Rutgers has prepared us to make the right decisions in those moments—for our life beyond the syllabus.
Take Selman Waksman, for example. He didn’t have a comprehensive plan when he arrived in America from Ukraine in 1910, nor when he enrolled at the nearby Rutgers College. But after graduating from Rutgers with a bachelor’s in agriculture, and obtaining his master’s degree, Selman Waksman discovered the cure for tuberculosis. His time here helped to change the field of medicine forever, saving countless lives.
Or take Phillip Alampi, another first-generation American who graduated from Rutgers in 1934. His original post-graduation plans surely didn’t include earning his master’s degree in agricultural education or becoming New Jersey’s longest-serving secretary of agriculture. Still, after receiving an education at the College of Agriculture, he had the skills necessary to sustain the Garden State through the farmland assessment and preservation programs.
Rutgers graduates have gone on to become famous writers, economists, senators, entrepreneurs, scientists, and game-changers. Each one of them entering the world without a script for what should happen next. Nevertheless, they were prepared. And, like them, our education here has given us the means to excel at life beyond the syllabus.
Though the road to our degree may have ended, let’s not forget our time as a Scarlet Knight and the opportunity we have to make a difference. It is time to show the world what defines the class of 2020. Let’s stay connected with our classmates, continuing the friendships we’ve made over the years; keep in touch with our professors, sharing our progress with those who inspired us; and attend Cook Alumni meetings, giving back to S.E.B.S., the school that will forever hold a place in our hearts. As we embark on our next chapter in life, let us have faith in ourselves and each other. It’s our turn to make history and venture into a world beyond the syllabus.
Congratulations, fellow graduates, for completing this momentous time in our lives, and may we all make our distinctive mark on the world.