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Fall Convocation Unveils Bright Future

Fall Convocation: Pomp, Circumstance And ‘Storytelling’

Fall Convocation at York on September 13 this year kicked off the 2012-2013 academic year with remarks from President Marcia V. Keizs, Provost Ivelaw L. Griffith, Vice President Geneva Walker-Johnson, Student Government President Shirley Jackson and Convocation President Professor, Dr. Sonia Rivera-Valdes, the keynote speaker.

Resplendent in academic regalia to coordinate with faculty and senior administrators, President Keizs touted the accomplishments of the last academic year with an update on accreditations such as was the case with Clinical Lab Science, Generic Nursing BS, Teacher Education and Physician Assistant. Both the president and the provost also welcomed a small but vital cohort of new faculty to the nursing program: Professors Margaret Alexandre, Professor Heather Gibson and Professor Claudette McFarquhar were acknowledged and welcomed to the York family.

The president was also thankful for successful site visits for academic program reviews, including Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Foreign Languages, Humanities and ESL, Earth and Physical Sciences, Biology and the Library.

“These academic program achievements position York College for expansion, growth and rebranding,” said President Keizs. “And second on our list of top achievements at York, was the Third Annual Undergraduate Research Day, vibrant student engagement we saw in undergraduate research. Envisioned by Provost Griffith and executed by Dr. [Rishi] Nath and a large number of York College faculty, we continue to develop our intentional co-curricular activities building on the hallmark of the early York College science student experience.”

Dr. Rivera-Valdes as Convocation Professor wowed the audience with her compelling address, “Story Telling Can Shape Your Life.”

Dr. Rivera-Valdes, whose story-telling skills fostered by her parents’ love of the oral tradition and enviable home library, has led her to the publication of a number of books of her own, and a reputation as a leading voice in Latin American Literature.

“My parents’ devotion to storytelling redeems them, in my feelings, from many unquestionable faults in my upbringing,” said Rivera-Valdes, daughter of a cigar maker father and reluctant homemaker mother. “We had a lot of books in our home. One Friday, the day that my father received his weekly salary, he came home with a book that he bought especially for me: Corazón, in Spanish, Heart, in English, Cuore in Italian, written by Edmondo De Amicis.  The book not only captivated me, but it took me to another dimension.  Reading it, I felt that by getting involved in those characters’ problems I could forget mine for a while.  Edmondo De Amicis’ book was the first one I read in which the protagonist was a child.  Reading Heart, I realized that I was not the only child in the world who suffered because of economic and family problems and that was of great consolation….”

Dr.  Rivera-Valdes, who is an invaluable professor in the Department of Foreign Languages, is the third Convocation Professor since the title was launched by Provost Griffith three years ago. She succeeds Professor Samuel Hux who succeeded Professor Howard Ruttenberg.