Ah, graduation. A time for reflection, tying up loose ends, and finally, goodbyes (or is it “see you later”)? For Nick Tommaso ’16, a mechanical engineering major at the College and four-year member of its track and field team, the days leading up to Undergraduate Commencement included all of these. On Sunday, May 22, 2016, he joined more than 780 of his classmates in a ceremony that marked their final exit from Riverdale: the place they’ve all come to consider home.
I was ecstatic to have nailed down my plans for Senior Week, which began today with Gaelic Park Night. I arrived a little late, but it was OK. I jumped into the dancing with everyone, even with classmates I didn’t know too well. We came to have a good time and that’s exactly what we had — no problems between anyone, only good vibes. I really felt the class of 2016 united as one.
I finally picked up my graduation tickets, which is great because otherwise my mother would have killed me. I also had a couple of holds removed from my account, so I was able to view my final grades online. For the past two years I’ve been a lot better about procrastination, but I guess I didn’t want school to end, so held a few things off longer than I should have. I said thank you, and see you later (not goodbye!) to Richard Schneider, P.E., assistant dean for the School of Engineering, and his administrative assistants, who I’ve become good friends with throughout my years at Manhattan.
Tonight I went to Senior Formal, and it was a blast! Once again the class of 2016 was ready to have a great time. We relived our great time at Gaelic Park, but this was like Gaelic Park on steroids: everyone was dressed to impress for the dinner and dancing cruise around the Hudson River. After shipping off from Chelsea Piers, we enjoyed really good food and drinks, and the dance floor was packed the entire time.
As part of the Senior Week package, there was a Mets game scheduled for today. I didn’t go because I really didn’t feel like returning to Queens just yet — I’m originally from Forest Hills. Plus, the game looked like it was going to get rained out. Tonight, I was planning to take it easy and just hang out with my close friends for the rest of my time before Commencement, and was going to hit the hay early. That was, until 11:30 p.m., when I entered into what would be a 30-minute phone call with my friend from high school who graduated from the College last year. He convinced me to get my tired self up and out to participate in one final hurrah with my fellow graduating seniors, and I’m glad I did. It was there I witnessed a good friend of mine rally my classmates and I together, which calmed my nerves about tomorrow. I remembered that we’re all in this together.
Finding the words to describe my feelings about today is no easy task. As I reflect back on Commencement, it seems like it went by really fast but then, it feels like the entirety of college also went really fast. In all, it was a blur of good memories and experiences.
Graduation has really put the future of life into a new perspective for me. This single moment when my diploma was handed to me was what I have been working toward. This day signifies the end of my time as a Manhattan College student, which means I no longer have just class to worry about, but I won't have school vacations, and most importantly, will need to work on developing my career. My career, if I am like everyone else, will last me about the next 40 years, and it will be the key to this next chapter in my life (possibly the largest chapter of my life).
I am extremely happy with how I’ve spent my time at Manhattan College. I also feel really blessed and ready for the world. My only question would be: Is the world ready for me? If I can offer a handful of advice from what I've learned over the past few years here, I’d say: Do what you love to do and pursue a career you love. Don’t stop until you reach your goals and believe that everything will work out. Keep good faith in your life. Also, remember where you came from and how you were raised. Respect others. Lastly, live with no regrets.
Tommaso plans to pursue a career in real estate, either as a property manager or agent. He’s been steadfastly working toward his career goals with guidance from a Manhattan College alumnus, who’s become his mentor.
Photo: Nick Tommaso '16 with Michael Carey, Psy.D., the College's Dean of Students.