Governor David A. Paterson and BCC Alumna Will Speak at Bronx Community College’s Commencement May 28

Bronx Community College: 10 a.m., Friday, May 28, 2010, Ohio Field, 2155 University Avenue (at West 181st Street).

Speaker: David A. Paterson is New York State’s 55th governor and the first African-American to hold this position. He was ahead of the national curve in predicting and acting on the State’s current fiscal downturn. Despite the greatest economic crisis our State has ever faced, he has enacted sweeping reforms on a wide range of issues facing New Yorkers. He led the movement to create permanent reforms to the way health care is delivered in New York State.  He overhauled the Rockefeller Drug Laws for the first time in more than 30 years. After a nine-year struggle to update the 1982 law governing bottle deposits, Governor Paterson guided the legislature to enact the Bigger Better Bottle Bill. As a result of the governor’s leadership, the Empire Zone Program is being reformed. The basic welfare grant was increased for the first time in two decades to help those struggling in poverty during a time of unprecedented economic turmoil. Also under his leadership, unemployment insurance benefits have been extended. Governor Paterson introduced landmark civil rights legislation that will end legal discrimination against same-sex couples in New York.

In 1985, at the age of 31, Governor Paterson was elected to represent Harlem in the New York State Senate, becoming the youngest senator in Albany at the time. In 2003, he became the first non-white legislative leader in New York’s history when he was elevated to minority leader of the Senate. He made history again in 2004 when he became the first visually impaired person to address the Democratic National Convention. In 2007, he became New York’s first African-American lieutenant governor. As lieutenant governor, he led the charge on achieving legislation for stem cell research, putting forth a statewide renewable energy strategy and championing the expansion of minority and women-owned businesses.

Presidential Medallion: New York State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson will receive the BCC Presidential Medallion.  She represents the 36th Senate District, which covers parts of the Bronx and Westchester Counties.

Also speaking will be: Easter Z. Wood, Bronx Community College graduate and 2010 recipient of a five-year fellowship to Harvard University in the African and African American Studies Department’s Ph. D. Program. A 2006 BCC valedictorian, she majored in psychology and later studied in the CUNY B.A. Program for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies. The program allows students to craft their own undergraduate course of study within The City University of New York. Wood took courses at City College of New York (CCNY), Hunter College and Baruch College as she progressed towards her bachelor’s degree, which she obtained in 2008. This past February, Wood was awarded her master’s degree in history (with a focus on the African Diaspora) from the City College of New York.  She was also a NY Life graduate fellow at CCNY’s  Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies. Wood, a priestess of the Yoruba Orisa-Ifa tradition, is the creator of the positive-thinking blog Ase Ire ( and is currently working on her first book exploring concepts of spirituality. She recently appeared in a CUNY B.A. ad posted on MTA buses (ads ran from February to late March 2010).

 Founded in 1957, Bronx Community College (BCC), the oldest of City University of New York’s six community colleges, serves as the engine for academic and economic mobility for motivated students from diverse backgrounds and preparations. More than 11,000 students from over 109 nations are enrolled in 30 associate degree and certificate programs including Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Computer Graphics, Nuclear Medicine, and Business Administration, Digital Arts, Computer Information Systems, Education Associate, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology, Electronic Engineering Technology, Liberal Arts, Marketing, Accounting, Human Services, Media Technology and Paralegal Studies. BCC’s 43-acre campus, high above the Harlem River, features architectural masterpieces of Stanford White and Marcel Breuer, as well as the Hall of Fame of Great Americans, the nation’s first hall of fame. BCC President Carolyn G. Williams is in her 14th year of leadership service to the College, which is located on a 43-acre campus at 2155 University Avenue at West 181st Street , formerly New York University’s uptown campus until 1973.

The College is home to initiatives not commonly associated with two-year institutions, such as the Center for Sustainable Energy, which promotes the use of renewable and efficient energy technologies in urban communities. The National Center for Educational Alliances (NCEA) ) is currently collaborating with South African Further Education and Training Colleges and universities to create linkages between these institutions and is also working to enhance student and academic support at the colleges.. NCEA also coordinates the College’s global initiative which facilitates global learning within and outside of the classroom.

Bryant Mason / (718) 289-5208 /