2008 Graduation - Baccalaureate Ceremony

Lisa M. Vasfailo, Student Speaker

In a speech given in 1915, Constantin Stanislavsky announced, "...It is not the power of the impression we make on the spectators, but its quality that counts: to make a fleeting effect is not the aim of theatre. It is much more have them undergo a more lasting influence, to have impressions sink deep into their hearts, take root and remain forever a part of their being." As an educational theatre major, this statement and the principles of Stanislavsky have greatly influenced my teaching philosophy and my work as an actor. Over the past few months as I began looking toward this day and beyond, I realized that Stanislavksky's words applied not only to my work in the theatre, but to my entire college experience as well. Over the last four years, we have all been the audience, and NYU our theatre. Despite our different backgrounds and interests, our common time here has shaped us and prepared us all for the future. However, the culture of the country, the city, and the entire NYU community has also greatly influenced the last four years of our lives, and I'd like to take a minute to look back at some of the events that have made the experience of the class of 2008 a unique one.

Four years ago we arrived in New York City and were immediately swept up in the drama of the 2004 presidential election. It was our first time able to vote, and we wanted to make sure our voices were heard - on T-shirts, in classes, and at protests in Union Square. By sophomore year the focus was shifted to yet another major occurrence in our country, and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, NYU students raised money and awareness and welcomed numerous displaced students into our campus. By the end of sophomore year, our class was thrown headfirst into our own mini-drama - the NYU housing lottery - and much of spring semester was spent worrying about living in hotels. At the same time, Steinhardt, formerly the School of Education, was actively searching for a new name that would accommodate its diverse student body and academic programs. A title was finally decided upon, and we would enter into our senior year at the new Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

With our last wave of classes, we began preparing for our futures - with applications, interviews, recitals, student teaching, and certification exams. And now we're here, at Radio City Music Hall, anxiously waiting to hear our names called so we can walk across that historic stage as we make our own history. As of tomorrow, some of us may be jobless, homeless and without insurance, but nevertheless, we are changed. Over the last four years, we have all learned as students and grown as people, and Steinhardt, especially with its new name and mission, has fostered that development. I stand here looking at you all, confident that I am looking at the next generation of inspirational teachers and artists, successful business professionals, and leaders who are going to change and better the lives of future generations and the world. I thank you all for helping to shape my experience at NYU, and I am honored to share this day with you. I wish you the best of luck in everything you do, and I expect to hear big things about you all in the future.