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Fashion icon Sam Edelman gives keynote speech at Commencement.

LIM College held its 85th annual Commencement exercises at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, on May 17. More than 430 students received master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees at the event, which included a keynote address from visionary and contemporary fashion pioneer Sam Edelman.

Edelman, who is Co-Founder and CEO of Sam Edelman, a Division of Caleres, received LIM’s Distinguished Achievement Award as well as an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree. Edelman told the graduates, “It is OK to be afraid. You are going to be afraid as you go out into the world. If you are not afraid, the job is not challenging enough. If you are not afraid, you won’t go anywhere; you won’t learn. Fear is OK, just work through it. You’ll get really good at what you are doing and you’ll be amazed that you were nervous and scared in the beginning. You’ll learn, and soon answers will become second nature.”

He also related a lesson learned from one mentor during his career. “I learned that fashion without marketing is not fashion. There has to be a story. The graphic arts are sometimes as important as the making of a garment. Talking to your consumers and understanding your consumers is everything.”

In his address to the Class of 2024, LIM College President Ron Marshall quoted career advice given by former U.S. President Barack Obama. “I agree with President Obama when he said that it is important to be someone who ‘gets stuff done’ if you want a successful career. As a CEO, I always noticed the people who got things done, especially those who stretched out of their comfort zones to take on things they may not have felt ready to handle. These are the people who other successful people want to work with.”

Marshall also advised the graduates that in addition to the hard skills and functional capabilities they learned at LIM, it is equally important to perfect soft skills, saying, “You are eminently qualified for the jobs that await you based on your LIM education. Yet, you also need a set of soft skills that allow you to get results. You can spend your entire career perfecting these skills, which include a state of mind; an attitude that you carry within yourself and project to others. Most important, never, ever give up. Sometimes the solution is to just work harder.”

The Maxwell F. Marcuse Award was given to Jacqui Wenzel of the Class of 1979. Wenzel is the Founder and President of JW Merchandising LLC. Named for LIM’s founder, the Maxwell F. Marcuse Award is the College’s highest alumni honor.

Joshua Danforth from the Class of 2005 received the Shining Star Alumni Award. Danforth is the Senior Director of Visual Merchandising Capabilities for Walmart. Pascal Nguyen from the Class of 2017 received the Rising Star Alumni Award. Nguyen is Manager of Marketing & Consumer Analytics for Coach.

Lexie LaPlante of Brick, NJ was the undergraduate Class of 2024 Valedictorian. Lexie delivered her valedictory address via video, because she was in Texas working on public relations for the 59th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards. In her senior year, Lexie completed a co-op internship in the PR and Media department at the Academy of Country Music in Nashville, Tennessee.

Elaina Kuhni was the undergraduate Class of 2024 Salutatorian. Originally from Ambridge, PA, Elaina completed LIM’s fully online Bachelor of Business Administration in Fashion Merchandising program. She finished her degree in January and has already begun her career as an Assistant Buyer for DICK’S Sporting Goods.

Ted Taylor, an adjunct faculty member in Career and Internship Services, received the Adrian G. Marcuse Award for Teaching Excellence. Named in honor of LIM College’s president from 1972-2002, this award is given to a faculty member who performs in exemplary fashion in the classroom and consistently embodies the College’s core values. In addition to teaching, Taylor has had a 30-year career in fashion and home furnishings.

LIM College’s 2024 Commencement ceremony is available for on-demand viewing at: