Touro College’s School of Career and Applied Studies commencement ceremony at the Brooklyn Academy of Music stopped for one tearful moment to honor the memory of Alma Hope Devone, a recent graduate-school degree winner who died May 2.
Twelve hours before her passing, at a special ceremony in Calvary Hospital, Devone, in full academic robes, received her dual Masters of Science degrees in Education and Special Education. Touro Department Chairman, Dr. Ronald Lehrer, presented the degrees in the hospital’s packed conference room. In addition, Devone received the “Teacher of the Year” Award from her principal in PS145.
At the commencement, Devone’s daughter accepted another honor on her mother’s behalf. Melanie Wilson, 16, accepted the Robert Bielsky Special Recognition Award for Personal Achievement for her late mother.
Bielsky personally presented the award, created in honor of Bielsky’s father, a World War II hero whose brigade leadership rescued thousands of Jews from the Nazis. His father, whose heroic achievements will be the subject of a major motion picture, set the standard for courage in the face of overwhelming odds that Alma Hope Devone’s life embodies.
In accepting this award for her mother, Wilson expressed her gratitude to her godmother Rebecca, Touro Professor Lorli Dima-ala, and the Bielsky family. Her mother, she said, was her inspiration in all her career roles — counselor, clinician, and teacher. Mostly though, she said, she was inspired by her mother’s courage in the face of enormous obstacles.
Also, like her mother, Wilson intends to follow a career of service to others in either social work or nursing.
Touro College’s School of Career and Applied Studies is located at 1870 Stillwell Avenue.