Our Threshold Program’s annual celebration broke with tradition while still honoring the past and, most importantly, wishing the graduating class an auspicious future.
In a departure from the familiar setting of the Harvard-Epworth Church, graduating students, their families and Lesley personnel gathered under a tent on our South Campus. The event, President Janet L. Steinmayer indicated, was more a “closing ceremony” than a graduation, as this will be the first Threshold class to march with the graduates of our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and College of Art and Design at Commencement.
Threshold is Lesley’s non-degree, postsecondary education and life-skills program for young adults with diverse learning and developmental challenges. Lesley’s undergraduate and graduate Commencement returns to an in-person celebration on May 21 at the Leader Bank Pavilion on Boston’s waterfront.
“Tomorrow afternoon, your group will be the very first to walk across the big stage at the pavilion to receive your diplomas,” President Steinmayer said. “I will see you tomorrow on the stage and I look forward to congratulatory elbow-bumps.”
But today in Cambridge, the atmosphere resembled a festive garden party on our home turf, rather than a formal ceremony. It wasn’t merely the setting that was more relaxed than in the past. On several occasions, students and well-wishers engaged in jocular banter with the speakers and shouted approval when individual class members and others were mentioned.
Many cheers greeted Kyle Dalrymple ’21, one of the student speakers who worked as a journalist at the Lesley Public Post. (“Kyle’s journalism gave Threshold a voice in our community,” the president said.) He spoke about how he enjoyed working at the student-run paper as well as the mailroom.
“We worked hard but had lots of fun, too,” Dalrymple said. He, like Class of 2022 student speakers Molly Marotta and Lukas Roth highlighted the friends they made through Threshold and their positive work experiences. Those job sites, from childcare centers to nursing facilities and more, were a particular point of emphasis, as the university celebrated two Threshold partners with awards named for founding director Arlyn Roffman and the late Jim Wilbur, who was director for a quarter-century.
The Cambridge YMCA Child Care Program received the Arlyn J. Roffman Founder’s Award, presented by instructor and field advisor Beth Nyhan-Santos and students Tess Stromberg ’21 and Ellen Maxwell ’22.
The James S. Wilbur Award went to Courtyard Nursing Care Center and was presented by Justin Chapman, employment and internship coordinator, and Class of ’22 members Bella Coven and Casey Robinson and Sebastian Roland ’21.
Though the mood was jubilant, speakers, such as Executive Director Jennifer R. Thorell and Provost Jonathan K. Jefferson, acknowledged the special challenges Threshold students faced throughout Covid.
“You’re the class that made it through the pandemic,” Dr. Jefferson said. “This is only the beginning of great and many new things in your lives.”
“Just imagine navigating this ever-changing situation as you adapt to living independently,” said Krista DiGregorio, director of alumni and employment services, reflecting on the journey of the 27 graduates.
That journey paused long enough for the wistful “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” sung with operatic brio by Threshold alumnus Daniel W. Levin ’06.
But it wasn’t all a struggle. President Steinmayer wryly remembered the alternative, luxury, accommodations Lesley arranged for students at the height of the pandemic to ensure social distancing and sanitary individual bathrooms and other accommodations.
“Living and studying at the Sheraton Commander Hotel last year was quite a unique experience,” said the president. Her own son is a Threshold alumnus who, despite growing up in Connecticut, found a home at Threshold and, she added, “even switched from being a Yankees fan to a Red Sox fan.”
President Steinmayer applauded the graduates, particularly those who are following the example of Edith Lesley and pursuing the field of early childhood education. Yet, even if they chart other courses in their lives, the president urged, “Get involved in organizations where you can have a positive impact on other people’s lives.”
And, of course, don’t forget about us.
“A threshold is what you step across when you enter and leave a room,” she said, “and our door is always open to you.”
Threshold Class of 2022
The latest graduates of our Threshold Program are: Rena Abbanat, Nathalie Sophia Beerel, Benjamin Charles Bernstein, Jessica Lynn Bowen, Gabrielle Theresa Colon, Bella Coven, Kira Joan Giveans, Alyssa Karim, Tucker Kenerson, Ethan David Kiefer, Benjamin Robert Kozub, Molly Marotta, Ellen Maxwell, Aidan Christopher Mincey, Redempta Muhorakeye, Stefani Osorio, Nicholas Antonio Passoni, Adian Murphy Pedersen, Chuk Taylor Porkka, Katherine MacLean Provost, Casey Jane Robinson, Lukas Alexander Roth, Ritvik Singhal, Ethan Whitman Solender, Eli David Van Arsdell, Nicholas Ruslan Vaskas, Nathalie Kate Wohletz.