Shawn R. Outler, Elizabeth S. Marcuse and Morgan Dreossi

Amid cheering friends and family and the repetition of “Pomp and Circumstance,” 550 graduates of LIM College jubilantly marched down the aisles of Carnegie Hall on Thursday evening, for the school’s 79th annual commencement exercises.

LIM’s largest graduating class since the school was founded in 1939 by Maxwell F. Marcuse received master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees, and per tradition, alumni from as far back as the Seventies joined in the procession and were seated onstage.

Words of praise, advice and encouragement came from the school’s president Elizabeth S. Marcuse, valedictorian Morgan Dreossi, and keynoter Shawn R. Outler, Macy’s Inc. executive vice president of licensed businesses, food services and multicultural initiatives.

“You put in the effort and you didn’t back down. Whether you got to class by subway, bus, ferry, train or stylish shoe, or you logged in online to complete an assignment, you put in the hard work required to reach your goal. That hard work is the not-so-secret ingredient that will make your dreams come true,” President Marcuse told the graduates.

“I have three challenges for you,” Outler said. “How will this class make a mark? How will this class give back? How will this class redefine history? These may be heavy questions to answer today, but they are three questions
I want you to take action on and hold each other accountable for as you move forward.”

Outler urged the graduates to be curious, develop meaningful connections with individuals from varied cultures, backgrounds and generations, trust their instincts and be flexible. She said after she graduated from Syracuse University, she was set to join the Abraham & Straus executive training program, but its merger with Macy’s diverted her from the corporate office to the stores. “As someone who worked stores throughout high school and summers in college, this was the last thing I wanted to do,” Outler said. “I thought I paid my dues and was ready to begin my journey to become a buyer. It was a dream I’d had since the age of 13. I became fearful of falling behind my fellow graduates entering executive programs at other companies. The most crushing piece at that time was being told by my supervisor that I wouldn’t make it. Despite all of that, I went into the stores and did as Terry J. Lundgren, former ceo of Macy’s, always advises, I bloomed where I was planted.”

Six years later when she joined the Macy’s buying office as an assistant, she had a better understanding of store operations and how buyers and planners impacted the customer experience, compared to her peers. “I also had an eye for product and quickly understood what our customers responded to, so much so, that my buyer gave me a special assignment, shopping new vendors every week on my own. I achieved my goal. It’s just that the journey was different than I imagined it would be.”

In her valedictorian address, Dreossi conveyed the irony she felt being on stage before the entire graduating class and all the guests, when as a student in middle school, she pretended to be sick so she wouldn’t have to go to school and give book reports. Her advice to her fellow graduates: “Be humble. Never look down on anyone unless you are helping them up….Be kind. Kindness is what people remember.…If your dreams don’t scare you, they just aren’t big enough.”

During the ceremony, LIM, which prepares people for careers in the business of fashion and related fields, awarded Melissa Crivillaro, class of 2005 and assistant vice president of digital and CRM at L’Oréal Paris, with the Shining Star award. Also, Lauren Fisher, class of 2014 and associate digital editor of Harper’s Bazaar, received the Rising Star award; Laurianne Listo, class of 1976 and executive vice president of sourcing at Global Brands, received the Maxwell F. Marcuse award, and Outler received an Honorary Doctorate of Commercial Science Degree and the Distinguished Achievement award.

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