We congratulate Marco Damiani who on May 16, 2022, received Pace University’s Opportunitas in Action Award, bestowed by the President of Pace University, in recognition of a leader who has been an innovative thinker and has made positive contributions to the community in the spirit of the University’s motto Opportunitas.

MAY 16, 2022

Good morning, President Krislov, trustees, faculty, students and fellow honorees.
Opportunitas. The word speaks for itself. Or does it?

When you first hear it, the English word “opportunity” comes immediately to mind, and why shouldn’t it? In many ways, that is exactly what Pace surely intended when Opportunitas was chosen as your motto.

But opportunity doesn’t just magically appear before you. You don’t simply wake up on a sunny Sunday morning and see before you endless chances to do great things. This is especially true for people who are perceived as different. Opportunity for them is often more like a dark and cloudy Monday evening.

Being seen as “different” often pushes someone to the sidelines, to the periphery of opportunity, where they are at great risk of becoming disenfranchised from their communities. They can become distant observers of those around them, those who somehow found an easier path to realizing their dreams and potential.

Why do I know this? Because at AHRC NYC, our 5000 staff spend every day of the year helping neurodiverse children and adults, people with disabilities, gain an opportunity to live the life they choose.

When you really stop to think about it, difference is the only thing we have in common, isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, you’ve worked hard to get here today. You’ll graduate, pursue your dreams, and strive to realize your potential. That won’t be easy. At least I sure hope it won’t. Because if it is, it won’t stick, it won’t become part of who you are and can be, and it won’t enable you to share lessons learned to those you encounter in the decades ahead.

So, as you achieve your goals and dreams, always look to the periphery for others that might not fit the mold. Invite them into your journey. Do it because you owe it to yourself to be open-minded and inclusive, always striving to exceed expectations, to build communities that are generous, curious, innovative, supportive, and enduring.

Many thanks for honoring the work done by countless individuals and organizations such as AHRC NYC. They believe deeply in standing for something.

No matter what you choose to do as you leave this amazing stadium today be sure to do this.