Graduates urged to take risks and make a positive impact

Graduates at the 2014 Graduate Commencement ceremony

May 10, 2014 - The greatest risk is not taking one.

That was part of the advice offered to graduates by Guy Adami, managing director of optionMONSTER.com, and Linda Schwartz, the Connecticut commissioner of veteran's affairs during the Graduate Commencement ceremonies held May 10 at the TD Bank Sports Center on the York Hill Campus. Adami spoke at the morning ceremony for students from the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, School of Communications and School of Education and Schwartz spoke to graduates of the School of Health Sciences and the School of Nursing at the afternoon ceremony.

Adami, a professional investor and a noted media analyst who appears on CNBC's "Fast Money," told graduates about when he was offered a spot in the first New York City Ironman competition. Despite not being an endurance athlete, Adami accepted the challenge and finished the grueling race. "The pain of regret is worse than the pain of sacrifice," he said.

Adami also advised graduates not to let others define them or to be overcome by fear. He shared a story about a high school guidance counselor who discouraged him from applying to his dream school, Georgetown. After being accepted, Adami photocopied the letter and dropped it on the counselor's desk. 

"It proved to be one of the most empowering moments of my life," Adami said. "Do not allow others to tell you what you are capable of achieving. Do not allow the opinions of others to define who you are, or what you want to become." 

During her address to the graduates, Schwartz noted that the Affordable Health Care Act has radically changed the landscape of health care in the U.S. and she urged the students to rise to the occasion to meet those challenges.

Part of this act includes House Bill 5294 which requires health providers to ask whether a patient has served in the military. She called this measure a "game changer" because the simple question "will help identify veterans who may not know that they have been exposed to hazardous conditions and substances encountered in military service that may predispose them and members of their families to known diseases and illnesses."

Schwartz told the story of a veteran who had suffered for years before finally seeing a practitioner who asked him about his military service. The patient had served in Vietnam in 1969 near Da Nang where he was likely exposed to Agent Orange. This critical information raised red flags and aided in properly narrowing his diagnosis.

Ultimately, said Schwartz, asking patients "Did you serve?" will lead to the most important outcome: better care for veteran patients.

Whether caring for veterans or civilians, Schwartz urged the graduates to not only treat patients' illnesses and afflictions, but to heal them. "You/we practice a profession which eases pain, settles confusion, turns sickness into health and quietly celebrates the true meaning of human dignity," said Schwartz.

The University awarded 527 graduate degrees during the morning ceremony, which also included remarks from Kirsten Owens, a graduate of the master in business administration program. In the afternoon, 298 graduates received diplomas and Dana Aaron, who received a doctorate degree of physical therapy, offered well-wishes to her fellow graduates. The School of Law also held its Commencement ceremony this weekend, awarding 116 degrees. Undergraduate Commencement will be held on Sunday, May 18. Learn more.

View coverage from both Graduate Commencement ceremonies on our social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, including a photo gallery on Facebook.

Morning ceremony:

Afternoon Ceremony: