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Mary Jane Meschino's Reunion Speech

Mary Jane Meschino '75Mary Jane Meschino '75, President of the CSE Alumni Association addressed the graduates at Reunion Weekend 2014.

Read her speech below.

I am privileged to share this day with you and join in the celebration of your milestone achievement.

I extend a special welcome to those of you from the Class of 1964. You have much to be proud of, and we honor you today.

1964 is probably the first year in my life that I vividly recall. It began for me on February 9th when I joined 75 million people in watching The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. It was an exciting time to be alive, and it was a watershed year in many ways. In politics, popular culture, and civil rights, 1964 was a year of cataclysmic change, and its events continue to impact our lives today.

Personally, I owe a deep sense of gratitude to the Class of 1974. It was during my visits to the CSE campus to see my high school friend, Nancy Cunniff, that I came to love the college and decided to transfer here from what was then called Jersey City State College. I was impressed by the beauty of the campus and the spirit of people like Nancy and her circle of friends. These included the likes of Mary Anne Campeotto, Barbara Bedell, and Arlene Sullivan. You can only imagine the fun we had in what was then the Santa Rita dorm.

While our personal journeys have taken us down different paths, I believe that each journey began here. This was our home for many years, and it was here that we took the small, almost imperceptible steps that shaped the person we are today.

I believe that you and I are a family – united by countless memories of our time together at the College and for all that we have shared since then.

Like me, are you warmed by thoughts of the lifelong friendships you made here? Of memories of sledding down snowy hills on trays pilfered from the Dining Hall, showing more fearlessness than common sense? Of weekend mixers at West Point and the Merchant Marine Academy? Of midnight raids to the Pantry, hiding in the dark from the nuns and running back to the dorm with huge tubs of ice cream for all to share? Of late nights cramming for comps in the Smoker? Yes, there was such a place.

Of Benny and the patients from Greystone who served us those mystery meals in the Dining Hall? Of the sunlit days in the Greek Theatre reading poetry and imagining the life you would one day lead? Of the very real fear that you might be pulled out of the processional line at graduation because you failed to return an overdue library book?

Of rushing back to the dorm to catch the latest soaps, especially All My Children? Of joining the Honors Program just to get out of Speech Class since Miss Barton had a very well known distaste for the Jersey City accent which I carry proudly to this day?

Or – my greatest anxiety – needing to pass the mandatory swimming test before we were able to graduate? Luckily, in my case, that requirement was conveniently overlooked or I might still be attending college here, along with your classmate Barbara Smith Parker and most of the girls who grew up in Jersey City and Newark.

But much has changed in our lives since we graduated from St. E's. We have all gone on to become spouses, parents, corporate leaders, community servants. We have all taken unique paths in trying to discover who we are. We have all experienced the duality of life – both its epiphanies and its heart wrenching tragedies.

But what has not changed is the belief that we can be all that we are meant to be, that we can be miracles in our world. This is a lesson that we learned here many years ago, a lesson that still resonates today.

What has not changed is our deep commitment to the College and to the unchanging values it stands for – integrity, learning, leadership, and service. It is a legacy of excellence that we all share and that must be passed on.

What has not changed is the reality that we are a family, a family united by countless memories of our time together at the college. And, like all families, we need to take time to remember those we have lost, to share in the everyday joys of those who remain behind, and to be grateful for the blessings that bind us to one another.

So, it is with gratitude that we recognize you today. Enjoy your time together at a place where you met and shared so much!

Related Links:
President Streubert's State of the College Address
Dr. Christine Bailey Wahl's Reunion Speech
See Photos from Reunion Weekend 2014

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Founded in 1899 by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, the College of Saint Elizabeth has a strong tradition of concern for the poor, for developing leadership in a spirit of service and social responsibility, and a commitment to the promotion of women as full partners in society.

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