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Class of 2013 Zero Year Reunion Brunch

Remarks by
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Heffner Alumni House, Great Room
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thank you, Dr. Sams [Timothy], and good morning, Class of 2013. Congratulations, again, to the CLASS Achievement Award winners. What a week you have had! It was my pleasure to kick off Senior Week with you on Friday in Saratoga, and it is my honor to close the festivities by joining you this morning.

To begin, I first must recognize and acknowledge several individuals for their contributions to the Class of 2013, and ask that they stand if they are here.

First, we will start with Christopher Newhard, your class president, and Mack Carroll, your senior week chair.  Chris and Mack, you should be commended for your leadership and your collaboration to engage your fellow classmates in a dynamic week-long program for Senior Week. 

Will the Senior Week committee members also stand? Thank you, Rick Hamant, Matt Elchison, Sean O’Reilly, Lindsey Rappleyea, John Sevilla, and Matthew Klompas, for your efforts in creating a successful week of programming.

Next, we recognize your newly elected 2013 Alumni Class Council leadership: Brian Nock, President; Stephen Nock, Vice President; William Schmitt, Treasurer; and Kenley Cheung, Secretary. 

Congratulations to each of you for the great work you will do in the coming years as you represent your class. Thank you for taking on this important role as you transition from students to alumni and alumnae to help maintain the connection to Rensselaer throughout your lives.

I also am very pleased to take this opportunity to, once again, thank everyone that contributed to your unique Class of 2013 gift, the giant and functional Rubik’s Cube. Your legacy will live on through this gift and the enjoyment future students will derive from it. Illustrating how your connection to Rensselaer will endure even when you leave the Troy campus, alumnus Nelson Bruns, Class of 2010, will be designing and building this magnificent and workable piece of art in his shop in Maine.  

Nearly 20 percent of you have donated to the gift, and 19 of you are now Student Patroons, helping to make your vision a reality. On behalf of the entire Rensselaer community, I thank you for your generosity. Your philanthropy, and philanthropy in general, is very important to the Institute and allowing us to realize our mission. 

In less than 48 hours, you will walk across the stage in the East Campus Athletic Village to collect your hard earned diplomas, and you will officially become alumni and alumnae. In honor of this occasion, I am pleased to welcome you as alumni and alumnae, as we celebrate your “Zero Year Reunion.”      

At this point, you have checked off the items on your Rensselaer Bucket List, you have handed in all final assignments, and you are preparing to say your goodbyes before you begin your next chapters. While you ready yourselves for what is next, it is normal to experience some hesitation. However, you can find confidence in the fact that, as a Rensselaer graduate, you are well equipped for life. As a Rensselaer graduate, your connections and degree will open doors. 

Moving forward, with your degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, you will be afforded opportunities today that you cannot even begin to imagine. As many graduates who have come before you have realized, often times these opportunities will come when you least expect them, and as a result of your connection to Rensselaer. 

That is why, as you set out on your distinct career paths, it is important to remain connected to one another. Yours is one of the most connected generations in history, via smart phones, tablets, and the various social media outlets available at your fingertips. These same tools will allow you to stay connected to Rensselaer as well. Follow and engage with the Rensselaer Alumni Association on a variety of social media platforms. Your Alumni Class Council also will do their part to help you to remain part of the larger community of alumni and alumnae, but I encourage each of you to reach out – individually, to become active participants in the alumni network.

Wherever you go in the years to come, you are certain to find Rensselaer alumni and alumnae – all across the United States, and the world. The Rensselaer Alumni Association has active chapters in many regions around the globe, and undoubtedly, wherever your paths lead you to work or study, you will find fellow alumni and alumnae. Know that your alumni/ae network can help you.

To stay connected, it is also important to return to the Troy campus where you spent these past several years. I encourage you to continue your Zero Year Celebration by joining us this October for Reunion and Homecoming, a tradition that began during your freshman year. With a full slate of activities and events planned, we know that you will enjoy yourselves and that you will return in five years, ten years, and so on. Reunion and Homecoming will afford you the opportunity to reminisce about your glory days, create new memories, and strengthen your connection with your fellow alumni and alumnae.

Reunion and Homecoming will also give you the opportunity to return to the Troy campus and see firsthand what changes are taking place. When you first arrived in 2009, you arrived to a transformed Troy campus, with new buildings and programs for you to benefit from.

As we established at the Senior Banquet on Friday, your class will forever be the first class to enjoy ECAV throughout your tenure, as well as the first class to graduate with a Class Dean, and to fully experience CLASS. Throughout your time here, you have been afforded a student experience and a level of support to position you for success here at Rensselaer and beyond. 

Most recently, you were part of the process to refresh The Rensselaer Plan. Your input helped with the creation of The Rensselaer Plan: 2012-2024, which will guide us as we prepare the Institute for the celebration of its bicentennial in 2024. This is an exciting time for Rensselaer, and as we seek to become transformative on a global scale, I hope that you continue to play a vital role in our success.   

So, Class of 2013, you have made history here at Rensselaer and you must now make your mark on the world. As you set out to do this, please hold dear the memories and lessons you have learned. Most importantly, please maintain your Rensselaer connections. These connections will not only help sustain you and afford you opportunity in life, but will strengthen the Institute and the value of your degrees.

Allow me to close by thanking each of you, the members of the Class of 2013. Thank you for who you are, for what you have brought during these past four years, and for all that you will continue to bring as Rensselaer alumni and alumnae. 

I am grateful for your contributions to the rich legacy and community that is Rensselaer. I look forward to seeing you and your families on Saturday. 

Source citations are available from the division of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Statistical data contained herein were factually accurate at the time it was delivered. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute assumes no duty to change it to reflect new developments.

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