ESPN Correspondent and author Tom Rinaldi delivered an inspiring and at times rousing address to the Class of 2018 during Dominican College’s 64th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 20, 2018 at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. A total of 572 students graduated — 123 with doctoral degrees, 100 with master’s degrees and 349 with bachelor’s degrees.
Graduates, their families, and friends all listened with rapt attention as Rinaldi recounted two stories. The first story was about the parents of a two-month old child in a Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) who tragically did not survive. Before the baby’s death, the parents arranged for him to have several experiences. They brought a puppy into the NICU so the child could feel the fur. They had a musician play a guitar so the child could hear music. They took the baby off of his tubes and brought him outside so he could feel the sun on his face and the wind across his skin. Finally, they put a bit of ice cream on the tip of his lips and the end of his tongue. Rinaldi told the graduates, “You get to experience those things every single day as you find your place in the world. So keep your capacity for wonder and appreciation over the wind and the life and the sun and the taste and the sound that surrounds you as you make your life.”
Rinaldi then told the story of Welles Remy Crowther – the Nyack High School graduate and 9-11 hero known as the “man with the red bandanna.” He described how Welles led many to safety on 9-11 and saved lives. During his speech, Rinaldi asked the graduates to raise their right hands as high as they could. “Do this for yourselves and for everybody else. Don’t just reach up, reach out – reach out to touch, to teach, to inspire, to give, to grasp,” he said.
Rinaldi has won twelve national Sports Emmy Awards and six national Edward R. Murrow Awards. His 2016 book, “The Red Bandanna: A Life. A Choice. A Legacy” was on the New York Times Best Sellers list. During the Commencement Ceremony, Rinaldi received an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.
Others honored at the Commencement Exercises included:
- Judith Kydon, M.A., M.Ed., President and CEO of St. Dominic’s Family Services, received an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humanities.
- Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe was awarded the Veritas Medal for his service to the community.
- Wendy St. Felix, ’17, DNP, Family Nurse Practitioner at the Montefiore School Health Program at P.S. 85 in the Bronx, received the 2018 Badami Outstanding Alumna Award.