Commencement Speaker Tells Wentworth Grads to Seek ‘Service Beyond Self’

April 23, 2018

Picture of students holding their diplomas at commencement


BOSTON, April 21, 2018 -- Kicking off the region’s annual college commencement season at Wentworth Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Port Authority executive Houssam Sleiman told some 383 graduates to stay resilient, serve others, and never give up on their dreams.

“As children of the technology age, like most millennials, you are cursed by a rampant, instant gratification syndrome,” said Sleiman, Massport’s director of Capital Programs and Environmental Affairs.

“You will get frustrated when the promotion and raise don’t come as quickly as you expect. Do not give up easily. Be patient, goal-oriented, and resilient.”

Sleiman and Wentworth alumnus Faisal Al Shawaf, AEC ’94, BCS ’95, president of Saudconsult—the oldest and largest engineering and architectural firm in Saudi Arabia—received honorary doctor of engineering degrees at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center ceremony.

“I am neither famous, nor powerful,” said Sleiman. “So why would a great institution like Wentworth give this honor to me, an ordinary person. I think it is because these good people believe that the life story of an immigrant who came to the United States 38 years ago, struggled to go to school, and worked through many adversities, is meaningful and helpful to you, the graduating class.

“I leave you with the principles that have always guided my actions and made me successful, and I am sure that you will succeed if you just remember these principles and let them guide your actions: Integrity above all; service beyond self; excellence in everything you do.”

As an immigrant from her native Serbia, President Zorica Pantić has spoken often about the opportunities she found in the United States, and the chances for success that students at Wentworth continue to take advantage of.

“I charge you to go out and do good work,” she said. “You should pursue excellence in your profession, provide service to your community, and follow your passions, thus becoming leaders in this Commonwealth, across the country or around the world.”

Wentworth’s spring commencement also honors alumni who graduated with associate degrees 50 years before. This year’s group, the Class of 1968, was inducted into the Black & Gold Society and invited to the ceremony to receive honorary bachelor’s degrees.

The commencement, which included a salute to several military veterans who graduated, began with a call to order by P. Michael Masterson, chair of Wentworth’s Board of Trustees, and invocation by Gautham Das, associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and Technology.

Recounting a time she took part in a student meeting of Women’s Institute for Leadership Development, Class speaker Esti Shapiro, BSA ’18, noted that the group of women in the room agreed to stop apologizing needlessly, and to not be sorry about prioritizing their own needs and goals when necessary, or pursuing professional and academic opportunities.

“Whatever comes next…remain strong in your convictions and make choices without regrets,” she said. “I hope you all leave this institution with the strength to be unapologetically you.”

Jakob Hyde, BSA ’18, sang the National Anthem and Wentworth’s alma mater. Timothy Elrick, BSA ’18, was the student marshal, while Jeffrey Dike, BSA ’18, and Asmita Tandon, BELM ’18, served as creed book carriers. A student-athlete, Elrick majored in architecture with a triple minor in construction management, business management, and communication. For excellent academic standing and participation on campus, he was awarded the Wentworth Bowl, the highest overall honor a student can receive at the university.

Photos from the event by Josh Touster can be found below or on Wentworth's Flickr page. 

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