A Golden Occasion: The Class of 1968 Celebrates 50 Years
September 15, 2018
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Class of 1968’s graduation from NYU, making the its graduates the newest members of the Perstare Society. The Perstare Society is named for Latin motto of the University, Perstare et Praestare, meaning to persevere and to excel.
In anticipation of their induction into the Perstare Society at NYU Alumni Weekend, which will take place October 26–27, we sat down with a few members of the class to see what they’ve been up to for the past several decades.
Gail Levine (WSC ’68, STEINHARDT ’70, ’93)
Gail Levine, PhD (WSC ’68, STEINHARDT ’70, ’93) has dedicated the last fifty years of her life to public service. From early on in her career as a Special Olympics coach and Director of Recreation at the NYC Parks Department running programs for children with disabilities, she has been at the forefront of holistic healthcare and recreation as a form of rehabilitation. She credits her lifelong service to her starting years at NYU.
What did you study at NYU?
I began my studies at NYU as an undergraduate majoring in sociology. After finishing my degree in three years, I went on to get a master’s in therapeutic recreation by way of a full scholarship. After working for 14 years, I came back to NYU to get my PhD. With another full scholarship, I graduated with my doctorate in therapeutic recreation in 1993.
Did you have any mentors while at NYU?
Many of my professors became mentors to me. Dr. Doris Berryman had a very strong influence on my education. She inspired me to combine my interest in the arts and recreation, and strongly encouraged me to go for my master’s degree. After finishing my undergraduate degree, she helped me get a full scholarship for my master’s degree and then approached me again with another full scholarship opportunity for my PhD.
Dr. Berryman also sparked my interest in teaching. While I was studying for my doctorate, she asked me to teach at NYU. I loved teaching, and I this set the path for the rest of my career at CUNY Kingsborough. Even after I was a full-time professor at Kingsborough, I still taught as an adjunct at NYU on my days off for more than five years.
What did you do after you graduated?
Just as I graduated, a full-time tenure-track position professor position opened up at CUNY Kingsborough. So after working for years in community settings like the NYC Parks Department and hospitals, I switched directions and became a professor. I eventually became the Director of Sports for the college and helped set the curriculum for a major in physical education. The major now has more than 200 students enrolled.
At this point, I’m proud to say I have educated more than 1,000 students studying therapeutic recreation and related fields. My students are now provided services to their local communities all over New York City and beyond.
What do you do now?
I’ve always had an interest in holistic healthcare, such as yoga and meditation. While at Kingsborough, I also helped develop courses for a more holistic healthcare approach. In 2003, I became a registered yoga teacher and have been teaching community classes ever since. I had been practicing yoga since the 1970s before it was common in the United States and I’ve always seen it as an extension of my work as a recreational therapist.
Tell us about how you’ve remained in touch with the University?
I’m now a member of the advisory board for Steinhardt alumni. We recently ran a successful yoga and meditation program, which I led. I also stay involved by attending events hosted by the University and the NYU Alumni Association. I’m looking forward to attending NYU Alumni Weekend this October to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my undergraduate graduation.
Cathy Goldsmith (STEINHARDT ’68, ’71, ’74)
Cathy Goldsmith is a three-time NYU alumna, graduating from Steinhardt with a bachelor’s in sociology, and master’s degrees in elementary education and educational psychology. During her time at NYU she was an honors society student and President of Kappa Delta Epsilon. After graduating, Cathy dedicated 34 years of her life to special education for children and remained an active alumni volunteer and member of the NYUAA.
Why did you decide to come to NYU?
I loved being a part of the New York City community, Washington Square just seems very personal to me. It became a home to me, and I lived down by the Square for 34 years. I moved back to the Rockaways in recent years, that’s where I grew up.
I studied education because I love children. I find it exciting when they learn something new and they want to explore. After NYU, I taught elementary school and then I went onto special education, teaching children with all kinds of disabilities.
What was the most important thing you learned at NYU?
Even though NYU is a large university, the faculty and students are able to have very personal relationships. I did not feel as though I was just a name. Many of my longtime friendships began at NYU and I’m still in touch with several classmates. It was a wonderful feeling and it still is to return to the campus, and that's why I stayed as a resident of Washington Square Village for so long. It was a very warm enveloping feeling to be down at the Square.
Is there anything you miss about being a student?
I miss the interaction with students and professors in a learning environment. I like to learn. I read the newspaper and journals from different fields. I'm very interested in science. I'm love staying in contact with what's happening at the university, and the world. I’m always thinking about how we as alumni can improve what's happening around us, and learn from it.
Did you stay involved after you graduated?
I was recording secretary of the Alumni Association for about 25 years, and I was also involved with the graduate student organization for many years as a liaison between the students and the alumni association. I also mentored international students and taught them how to use Bobst when it was still on the catalogue system. Many of them were new to the whole system of education in the United States.
What advice do you have for current students?
Education is not just reading something and memorizing it, it's also applying it with life's experiences. Students should expand their interests outside of their major. I think that’s really important today. The broader your interest are, the more you give back to your students and the more they'll give to you, I think it's an interesting exchange.
Max Leifer (STERN ’68)
Growing up on a chicken farm, Max decided he wanted to leave his home in Lakewood, New Jersey to study in the big city. A member of Phi Epsilon Pi and president of his senior class, after graduating Max served in the military for a year and a half before enrolling at Brooklyn Law School. Now a successful lawyer and restaurant owner, he stays actively involved with NYU fifty years later.
Why did you decide to go to NYU?
Three reasons: number one, a relative of mine was Joe Weinstein who the dorm is named after; number two, NYU had an excellent program; and three, I guess I wanted to get away from growing up on a chicken farm and go to the big city.
What did you love most about being at NYU?
It was my best three years. I loved the classes, the professors, the environment, especially being in New York. There are so many things you can get involved with and do.
Did you learn anything at NYU that had a significant impact on your future?
I came from a rural area, you know, a small town. Coming to New York City, I was able to become more well-rounded and get a global perspective. I definitely think that helped me later in life.
What advice would you give to recent graduates?
I would say be open minded and flexible because many times you may choose something that you think you want to be in college and then as time goes on it's not what you really want and then you should follow your gut.
Are you still involved with the University?
I'm active with the Fiat organization; we sponsor scholarship and we also built a classroom in Stern. I give back to the University because I gained a lot. My life started at the University, you know, from then on, where I am now, it all started at NYU.