Anastos to Graduates: 'Live a Life of Joy'
The Marist College Class of 2013 hears from Emmy Award-winning anchorman
(The following Monday, Anastos talked about his time at Marist while anchoring the 5 p.m. broadcast for New York City's Fox 5 News.)
Perhaps no other speaker was as well suited to brightening moods on a damp and chilly Commencement Saturday as Anastos. “You are the good news of the day,” Anastos told the graduates as he shifted into anchor mode and “read” the day’s “top story”: “An urgent call for happiness for new college graduates. It’s breaking news right now, and we’re on location at beautiful Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.”
Anastos recalled that he’s covered some amazing stories in his more than 30 years as one of the top reporters and anchors in New York City, including “the good, the bad, and the really ugly.” What has underpinned his success and allows him to enjoy it, he told the graduates, is a happiness fed by the love of family and friends.
As Associate Professor of Communication Keith Strudler noted in his citation before Anastos was given his honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, Anastos is that rare blend of serious newsman and eternal optimist. “Ernie Anastos, during your nearly four decades as a reporter and anchor, you have narrated our lives in the best and saddest of times, but always with dignity and integrity,” said Strudler. “In an industry of harsh realities, you've championed the grace of humanity that exists outside our doors each and every day.”
Marist College President Dennis J. Murray told the graduates and family members and friends that, “Here at Marist, Commencement exercises are days of celebration, and they are days of gratitude.” Murray went on to share four key pieces of advice: 1) “Avoid the temptation to evaluate your degree in the next few weeks, months, or even in this next year, because this degree and your education have prepared you for life”; 2) “Learning must be a lifelong experience, so keep that thirst for knowledge alive”; 3) “Keep family at the forefront of everything you do”; and 4) “Very few of us here today are going to have a chance to change the course of human history, but all of us will have a chance to change a small portion of events that affect the way you live your lives, but more importantly, how you affect the lives of those people around you.”
United States Sen. Chuck Schumer made a surprise – and brief – appearance at the ceremony. Noting that he’s given a lot of graduation speeches in his 39 years in elected office and that he enjoys giving them, Schumer said, “I learned one thing, the colder, the rainier, the wetter it is, the shorter the speech,” before theatrically ripping up his prepared remarks to whoops and cheers and simply telling the graduates, “I wish you congratulations, good luck, Godspeed. You are the greatest.”
Valedictorian Lindsay Victoria Kirkham, a medical technology major from Monroe, Conn., echoed Anastos’s and Murray’s key themes in her speech. “To be successful in our careers is not enough; we must also be successful as human beings,” Kirkham told her classmates. “This success will not be measured by the dollars in our bank accounts, the size of our houses, or by how many people know our names. Rather, loving family relationships, close friendships, and fulfilling careers, in which we use our talents to improve society, will be the true measure of our success.”
Saturday’s ceremony was also notable for several other distinctions.
New York Police Department Inspector Theresa Tobin ’83, who lost her Marist diploma and the President’s Award, which she received in recognition of her heroism on 9/11, along with all her other possessions during Superstorm Sandy, had those documents restored during Saturday’s ceremony.
Professor of History Jerry White was honored with a President’s Award upon retiring after more than 50 years of service to Marist College.
The Class of 2013 includes not just four sets of twins, but also a set of triplets, Jessica, Rachael, and Toni Marie Chiarella, of Southbury, Conn.
And, finally, graduates were saluted by their families and friends, faculty and staff, as well as by the fireboat John J. Harvey, which challenged the falling rain with jets of water shot in the air from its water cannons to mark Murray’s conferring of degrees upon the Marist College Class of 2013