As the year draws to an end, the graduating class prepares to brave the real world and a frightening job market. But before we start scavenging for job opportunities and attempt to integrate ourselves into the “grown-up” world, we have cause for celebration. The commencement exercises offer us an opportunity to celebrate the hard work and dedication that we have shown at our time here at NYU, and the commencement speakers serve as examples of how hard work can take you to the top.
Sonia Sotomayor worked her through the legal system to become the first Hispanic justice of the Supreme Court and its third-ever woman. College of Dentistry student Alexis Cohen has also been dedicated to her work, both in dentistry and public health, which has earned her the honor of being the student speaker at the 2012 commencement.
Selection of the student speaker is no arbitrary task. All of the deans select an individual student, based generally on their academic record, how well they represent their fellow students, their leadership skills, and their presentation skills. Then, a selection committee representing the President’s Office, Provost’s Office, Student Affairs, and others select between 3 to 5 finalists. These finalists submit a rough draft of their possible speech and come in for interviews, and one is chosen to represent the graduating student body at commencement.
Alexis Cohen’s credentials definitely set her apart as a competitive candidate to speak on our behalf. Cohen taught English outside of Tokyo after graduating from Northwestern University in 2003. Since then, she has participated in disease prevention in partnership with the U.N., served as president of the College of Dentistry’s Student Council Executive Board, received multiple honors, and founded an organization to help sell goods that are handmade by African women. The list goes on and on.
Alexis Cohen is receiving both a D.D.S. from the College of Dentistry and a M.P.H. from the Master of Public Health Program. After graduating, Cohen plans to travel and help to develop preventative programs for avoidable dental problems.