Words of Inspiration at NJCU Academic Convocation

Words of Inspiration at NJCU Academic Convocation

Keynote Speaker Yvonne S. Thornton, M.D. Shares Life Lessons, Tells Students to Strive, Achieve Goals and Follow Their Dreams

Faculty, staff, and honored guests donned robes and regalia on October 5, 2017 to celebrate the new academic year at New Jersey City University’s 36th Annual Academic Convocation in Margaret Williams Theatre of Hepburn Hall.

An academic procession was led across campus to the Margaret Williams Theatre by 51 students bearing flags of the home nations of students enrolled at the University.

NJCU President Sue Henderson brought greetings to the University community and welcomed all to the 2017-2018 academic year. NJCU Provost and Senior Academic Vice President Daniel J. Julius then delivered remarks and joined Dr. Henderson in presenting three distinguished retired professors upon whom the title of professor emeritus/emerita was conferred. Those honored were: Dr. Raymond Clyde Coreil (English as a Second Language), Dr. Mihri Napoliello (Multicultural Studies), and Dr. Tsung (Bill) Soo Hoo (Professional Security Studies).

Collin Officer, president of the Student Government Organization, addressed the University community on behalf of the student body. Mr. Officer encouraged his peers to be involved in student government and other organizations, and urged them to participate as active volunteers on campus.

Pianist Ana Ren, an NJCU music major, then performed Johannes Brahms’ Rhapsody Opus 79 No. 2.  

An inspirational keynote address was then delivered by Yvonne S. Thornton, M.D., a double board-certified specialist in obstetrics, gynecology, and maternal-fetal medicine who is an outspoken advocate on women’s health issues. Dr. Thornton relayed the story of her family’s triumph over racism and journey to personal and career achievement. She shared stories of her father’s determination to see his five daughters achieve success and move to a better life through higher education and careers in the medical field.

Dr. Thornton described her ascent to the top of her field in the male-dominated world of academic medicine and credited her achievements to her father’s life lessons, which taught her to attain her goals through perseverance and the will to rise above adversity.

She urged students to go forward and achieve their dreams, saying, “Nothing is impossible… What you can conceive in your mind, believe in your heart, you can achieve with your efforts.”

Dr. Thornton is the first black woman in the United States to be board-certified in high-risk obstetrics and to be accepted into the New York Obstetrical Society. She has been listed in New York Magazine as one of the top 10 maternal-fetal medicine specialists in New York City.

Dr. Thornton is the author of the national best-selling memoir, The Ditchdigger’s Daughters, which was published in 1995 as a tribute to her parents. Featured on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” the book was translated into 19 languages, adapted for a World Premiere Movie, and nominated for the Peabody Award and the Cable ACE Award for Best Picture. She also authored the medical text, Primary Care for the Obstetrician and Gynecologist.

As senior perinatologist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, Dr. Thornton established and developed the program for a new form of early, prenatal diagnostic testing known as CVS, or, chorionic villus sampling.

At a reception on the Raines Plaza following the Academic Convocation, about 100 members of the University community waited patiently to thank Dr. Thornton for her inspirational speech. She offered words of encouragement and signed of copies of her memoir, The Ditchdigger’s Daughters.