Pace University Commencement

Released: 5/24/2004 1:30 PM EDT
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Newswise — At commencement ceremonies on May 23, 24, and 25, 2004 in New York City and Westchester County Pace University will award over 3500 degrees.

The following are vignettes of student graduates who are connected to this year's ceremonies.

Man in Mid-life Crisis Answers a Call to Serve as a Nurse
Eric Federer will graduate from the Lienhard School of Nursing, Sunday, May 23 at 2:30 P.M.

In Latin, "crisis" translates as a decisive moment.

For 23 years Eric Federer worked as a sales executive in the printing industry. "I had to push myself to get out of bed to go to work," he recalls. He had been taught, as most men are, to suck it up when unhappy, but he had learned from experience that an attitude like that perpetuates self-destructive behaviors.

When his company was acquired and merged in the late 90's, his sales job lost its former emphasis on customer relations and became more of "a drive by operation. It was not fun anymore," he says.

As a boy, Federer had toyed with the idea of being a doctor, but he hated the math that is required for science courses so he never pursued it. Still, the idea of medicine kept creeping into his psyche. When he traveled for business he would often stop in airport bookstores and buy science books for pleasure.

"The fact that I didn't do well in math in high school was a shadow hanging over me," says Federer. "I knew I wanted to make a career change but I had to face that hurdle first." He made a deal with himself. If he could get an A in college chemistry he would quit his job and pursue a career in the medical field. He soon accomplished his first goal. As he pondered becoming a physician's assistant, a friend told him about Pace's combined degree program, where students seeking a second degree could get accelerated entry level and advanced nursing training.

Federer acknowledges that little boys don't grow up wanting to be nurses, but after he quit his job and devoted himself to nursing, he felt that a huge weight had been lifted off him.

Federer is now working as a nurse practitioner at Torrington-Winstead Pediatric Associates, PC in Connecticut, where there are three doctors and five nurse practitioners. He had liked sales because it involved working with people to produce solutions. "That," he says, "is nursing in its best moments."

As an integral partner in the process of patient care his contributions are valued. These days Eric Federer describes himself as a "lucky man" because his mid-life crisis became a creative, positive and productive event that has made him a better person.

Thinking Green from Uzbekistan to the US
Vlada Smorgunov will graduate from the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Tuesday, May 25 at 10:30 a.m.,

As a girl in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Vlada Smorgunov learned the art and science of gardening and botany at her mother's side, working in the small plot of earth her family was assigned for raising food. Vlada felt satisfaction and peace from this experience but was unaware of the profound effect it would have on her later life.

She moved to New York City with her family at age 14, attending Edward R. Murrow High School and, later, Pace University. Her sophomore year at Pace was pivotal. She confronted her twin longings for work on social issues and work for the environment by declaring an environmental studies major, one of the University's specialties.

A powerhouse of ideas and action, Smorgunov founded T.H.I.N.K. Environment (The Healthy Independent Natural Knowledge of the Environment) -a student organization that applies classroom learning to real-world situations through volunteer projects. Civic engagement and working with outside agencies to improve communities was the beginning. Involved with the Indian Point Forum, Hudson Riverkeepers and Jamaica Bay Salt Marsh Restoration Project, among others, she acted on her conviction that nature and culture should harmoniously coexist by leading a student proposal that Pace build a "green roof" atop the main building of its downtown campus, using plants to abate water runoff and improve air quality. The data her team gathered are now being used in a collaboration on next steps between Pace's Center for Downtown New York, the Earth Pledge advocacy organization, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Smorgunov will be able to watch the construction of the green roof after her May graduation. As a master's student in the city at Pratt Institute, she will study Urban Environmental Systems Management. Her goal is to become an urban landscape architect.

Persistence Pays Off
Crystal Barrow will graduate from Pace University School of Law, Sunday, May 23 at 10:00 a.m.

To say Crystal Barrow had a dream might sound like a cliché, but, she claims that things do come to her in dreams, like the theme for the law school's recent Black History Month Celebration: Spirit, Strength, and Success. That might well be her personal mantra.

When she entered Pace Law School in 2001, she went part-time and juggled night classes with her demanding job as a Criminal Investigator/Special Agent with the U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration, and Naturalization. Committed to excelling in law school, she eventually resigned from her full-time job, and with the help and advice of the academic support program and the dean for students, she became a full-time student.

In her third year at Pace Law School she recognized the need for law faculty members and students to reach out to young people in Westchester County. With the director of law and public service programs at Gorton High School, John Dolgetta, Barrow conceived of a law-mentoring program for the Yonkers high school students. "The program provides action and access," she says. "It's not all about hard work; it's about connecting to something bigger. The students are doing things I didn't do until law school like mock trials, competing statewide, and doing online research. It is a great opportunity."

Barrow starts work as an assistant district attorney for the Bronx District Attorney's office in September 2004. Sworn in as a student assistant district attorney at the Manhattan DA's office through a clinical program, she already has firsthand experience in prosecuting misdemeanor domestic violence cases.

Why does she want to prosecute crimes? "I admit I like the balance of the courtroom drama, the office work, brainstorming, and research," she says, "but it is more than that -- it is about giving back." Barrow grew up in the Bronx, so in addition to prosecuting criminals, she plans to get involved in crime prevention and education programs.

"I will ask a million and five questions to get what I need," Barrow says. "The important lesson is to keep asking. Persistence pays off."

Out to change the world
Davis John Abraham will graduate from the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Monday, May 24 at 11:00 a.m.

Davis John Abraham has political aspirations. He hopes, one day to become a New York State Senator or White House National Security Advisor. Born in India, he cannot hold the office of President, but since he hopes to also serve as a consultant to countries promoting sustainable development and increase sustainable democracies, maybe one day he will be Secretary General of UN. Whichever path he takes, Abraham has laid a foundation for success as an undergraduate at Pace.

When Pace University hosted one of the Democratic debates last fall, of the 10 candidates then running, he got to personally assist Senator John Kerry.

"This was by far one of the greatest highlights of my time at Pace," he says. "We learn of the political process in the classroom, but to see it, feel it, and take part in it first-hand - now, that is something completely different."

Next, he secured an internship with Congresswoman Nita Lowey, getting involved with media relations and immigration and health care cases, and assisting Lowey during her neighborhood office hours.

As a three-year member of the Pace Model United Nations Team in Pleasantville, Davis holds five Outstanding Delegation Awards and has led six conferences. This past year, he advanced to the level of senior advisor and helped lead Pace to the title of National Champions, winning the Outstanding Delegation honors for representing the International Alliance of Women at the National Model UN Conference.

After graduation, Abraham plans to study diplomacy and international relations at Seton Hall University's Whitehead School of International Relations and Diplomacy. "He will change the world one day," says Deanna Vatan, his advisor. "I'm just not sure how, yet."

Fire, Water and Brass Pipes
Oleg Yunakov will graduate from the School of Computer Science and Information Systems, Tuesday, May 25 at 10:30 a.m.

There is a Russian saying that one must go through fire, water and brass pipes, which means that to acquire life experiences and the will to succeed one must endure severe trials.

Oleg Yunakov may not have encountered that trio of trials literally, but he has overcome many challenges since leaving the city of Kiev, Ukraine where he was born in 1980. Yunakov's journeys led him to America in the year 2000 after a ten-year hiatus in Haifa, Israel.

He applied to Pace University at the suggestion of a cousin and faced his first obstacle, learning English. Yunakov spent his first summer here starting to teach himself, then started Pace, began studying computers; and found the University's remedial English courses. In his second semester he took English 101 and within the next two years he was undertaking an independent study in English, hoping to read all the important American authors in English.

In the summer before junior year he won a nationwide competition for a fully paid summer internship in the Argonne National Laboratory of the Department of Energy, in Chicago. There he worked on "multi-threaded" computer server architecture, for the EE (Earthquake Engineering) project, simulating earthquakes, predicting outcomes and engineering responses.

The next summer he was invited back, this time in the more significant role of group-leader. He says his management skills were tested when he had to combine the functions of friendship and leadership.

Now, Yunakov works as software developer at barnes&noble.com. He is also busily pursuing his own projects. For one thing, he wants to connect far flung computers, databases and scientific instruments through the Internet or a virtual private network and make the process affordable. He imagines IP (Internet Protocol) videoconferencing as a means to help doctors in different cities assist each other in surgery, or to let people at home "to meet with friends from all over the world."

Another of his projects is a Personal Virtual Assistant, an electronic secretary with a touch screen monitor sitting outside executive offices performing daily office tasks without making mistakes. Chances are Oleg's personal assistant will not go through brass pipes, but play them.

Visit Oleg Yunakov's web portfolio: http://matrix.csis.pace.edu/~csems-s028

Pace is a comprehensive, independent university committed to opportunity, teaching and learning, civic involvement and measurable outcomes. It has seven campuses, including downtown and midtown New York City, Pleasantville, Briarcliff, White Plains (a graduate center and law school), and a Hudson Valley Center at Stewart International Airport near Newburgh, N.Y. More than 14,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs in the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lubin School of Business, School of Computer Science and Information Systems, School of Education, Lienhard School of Nursing and Pace Law School. http://www.pace.edu.
For more information http://www.pace.edu/commencement .


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