Design icon Patricia Moore inspires RIT graduates to embrace change and forge paths of impact

Trailblazing alumna urges class of 2024 to seize opportunities and champion equity

Scott Hamilton

From left to right, Gaelen Stewart, an industrial design major; Natalie Furman, a graphic design major; Evan Hiltzik, a web and mobile computing major; Emi Knape, a print and graphic media sciences major; and Paige Manley, a 3D digital design major, were among the nearly 4,500 outstanding graduates celebrated during RIT’s 139th Academic Convocation ceremony on May 10.

While sharing insights from her own transformative journey, Patricia (Pattie) Moore, a distinguished designer and trailblazing alumna of the class of 1974, encouraged this year’s Rochester Institute of Technology graduates to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and answer the call for change.

Photo gallery

See a collection of photos from commencement weekend.

“More than any generation before you, you have been graced with potential for creating a world of love and respect, equity, and quality of life for all,” Moore said during her keynote speech during today’s Academic Convocation in the Gordon Field House and Activities Center. Nearly 4,500 students are graduating from RIT this year, including those attending RIT’s global campuses in China, Croatia, Dubai, and Kosovo.

Individual college commencement ceremonies honoring the graduates will continue throughout this weekend. A hooding ceremony is today for 67 people receiving Ph.D. degrees.

Four honorary degrees also were awarded at RIT’s commencement ceremony May 10. Prabu David, provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, served as master of ceremonies at his first RIT Convocation.

Moore began her speech by transporting the audience back in time and recalling the tumultuous era of the 1970s, when she and her peers grappled with global crises and societal upheavals. “Fifty years ago, when I sat as you do today, the global headlines were dire,” she reminisced. “The world was struggling, and as the class of 1974, we had constant concerns and fears for the future.”

Amidst the chaos of the times, Moore and her contemporaries emerged as advocates for change, spearheading movements that would shape the course of history. “As long-haired, bell-bottomed hippies, we launched the first Earth Day, planting the seeds for a global awareness and response to the impact of climate change,” she recalled, highlighting the power of grassroots activism to effect meaningful change.

Photo gallery

See a photo gallery of the four honorary degree recipients.

Moore also acknowledged the divisive nature of the times, marked by the polarizing Vietnam War and ongoing struggles for gender equality. “We were vocal and earnest supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment,” she affirmed. “Today, 101 years later, we still await the recognition of men and women as equal, with the 28th Amendment of the Constitution.”

Drawing upon her own experiences, Moore shared words of wisdom and encouragement with the graduating class. “The more things change, the more they remain the same,” she said, invoking the timeless adage to underscore the enduring nature of human challenges. “I have always viewed both refrains not as permission to cave or quit, but rather as a call for action and a time for change.”

She urged graduates to embrace their role as agents of change and to harness their collective potential for positive impact. “I stand with you, a generation eager for equity, deliberate in your drive for dignity, and insistent that your abilities for innovation will in fact deliver the ever-elusive change of our collective dreams,” she said.

“The reason I leave my bed each day is to meet the calls, the challenges, and the constant concerns with action,” added Moore. “Actions that now, we will make together.”

RIT President David Munson congratulated the graduates and added that he continues to be impressed by their perseverance and resiliency, which includes navigating college through a pandemic.

He urged them to “continue to rely on your RIT family for support whenever needed.”

“As you move on to your next phase of life, you will face new challenges and tackle new opportunities. I know you will continue to employ the abilities and skills you have developed here at RIT,” said Munson. “We hope that, when you reflect on your time at RIT, your memories will be of favorite professors and staff, lasting friendships, and a feeling of joy and fulfillment.”

Student Government President Darcie Jones evoked a song titled, The Next Right Thing, sung by the main character, Anna, in her favorite Disney movie, Frozen 2, to encourage her fellow classmates.

“While I will cherish all my time at RIT, I’m ready to do my next right thing and make a positive impact on the world wherever I go,” said Jones. “So, here’s to the last few years—and remember—when life gets complicated and overwhelming, think of Anna … and work toward your next right thing.”

Read the speeches

The full text of the speeches by President David Munson, keynote speaker Patricia Moore, and Student Government President Darcie Jones are available.

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