Mayor Bloomberg Addresses Students and Alumni at Syms Awards Ceremony

On May 3, graduating seniors of Yeshiva University’s Syms School of Business received heartfelt congratulations and career advice from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the 2012 Annual Syms School of Business Gala Awards Dinner.

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The event, held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, celebrated the 25th anniversary of the business school, which now has over 3,000 alumni, and the graduating class of 2012. It also honored students and faculty who excelled within their fields and demonstrated exceptional character.

Drawing on his own experience as a young professional in New York, Bloomberg noted that success often comes in unexpected forms and recommended students embrace the twists and turns of a fledgling career. “The pathway to your dreams will not always be the one you’re imagining now,” he said. However, the mayor exhorted the new graduates to begin building their careers in the Big Apple. “You have the kinds of skills, desire and drive that this city, one of the most diverse cities in the world, needs,” he said. “Your education has given you all the tools you need to succeed.”

For Moses Pava, the newly-appointed dean of Syms, those tools were an assortment of ethical sensitivity and commitment, dedication and passion. “If your cause is compelling, you communicate clearly and with respect and modesty, you work together to balance the needs of all stakeholders, you play hard and work even harder, you can quite literally create new realities and a new playing field,” he said.

Hitting a note that was emphasized throughout the evening, Yeshiva University Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Henry Kressel stressed that initiative and determination were critical to success in any profession. He spoke of his own revolutionary work with lasers at RCA Laboratories, a project that was dismissed by experts at the time but eventually led to the development of technology used in DVD players.

“Great leaders in all fields appear to be lucky due to random chance, but in fact, winners largely make their own luck with the combination of a prepared mind, receptiveness to opportunities others overlook, and perseverance, which leads to eventual success despite setbacks along the way,” said Kressel.

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Awards were presented for excellence in accounting, finance, marketing, management and student service, as well as honors for the highest-ranking juniors and the three valedictorians, Anosh Zaghi, Elana Sand and Sultana Shoshani. Faculty members who had made a deep impact on their students were also recognized. In addition to being named Lillian F. and William L. Silber Professor of the Year, David Kahn, an instructor in accounting, received a special award called “Professor of the Decade,” created by the graduates to commemorate his commitment to students both in and out of the classroom. Visibly moved, Kahn said, “This is a powerful evening.”

Charles Harary, an associate professor of entrepreneurship and management who was named Professor Pete Lencis Adjunct Professor of the Year, noted the creativity and innovation of the Syms student body. “You have vision,” he said. “If you allow yourself to dream and see the world with the vision of every Jewish leader before you, not as it is right now but how it could be, and realize that you alone can bring that change, we are all in good hands.”

Shoshani discussed her own vision as she attempted to fuse a love of acting and screenwriting with the rigorous time commitment and academic demands of an undergraduate degree in business. “Creativity and business are not contradictory,” she said. “As business students, we have the tools to use our creativity to come up with new ideas to make the world a better place. We don’t have to compete—we can invent.”

Following the ceremony, current students and new graduates mingled with alumni and various financial professionals at a buffet dinner. The evening concluded with a performance by Jake and Amir of CollegeHumor.com.

“The commitment of the professors to our success, as well as the experiential opportunities, were probably the most inspiring and enabling aspects of my business education at Syms,” said Benjamin Blumenthal, president of the Syms School of Business Student Council (SYMSSC), who together with co-president Littal Kravetz and their boards organized the evening. Their choice of Bloomberg as keynote speaker was instinctive: “Mayor Bloomberg stands alone as someone who embodies the principles of entrepreneurship that are instilled in us at Syms. To host him at our awards dinner showcases the pride we all share for our school.”

“It’s overwhelming to see the young, smart and dynamic students gathered here,” said Lynn Syms, wife of the late Sy Syms, who helped establish the business school in 1987. “Bringing alumni and undergraduates together in this intimate setting, where they can share ideas and find out what each other are thinking, is truly wonderful.”