Iraq Veteran/Queens Resident Selected as York’s Valedictorian

For immediate release

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Contact: Linda Zango-Haley 718-262-2495,     

 94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd

Jamaica, NY 11451                              

Iraq Veteran/Queens Resident Selected as York’s Valedictorian

York College/CUNY will host its 42nd Commencement Exercises on June 1, 2012. At 1,003 strong, the Class of 2012 is York’s largest graduating class to date.

            The valedictorian, Chemistry major, Tony Wan, served two tours of duty in Iraq as a member of the U.S. Marine Corp, reaching the rank of Corporal. There will also be at least seven other veterans graduating that day from York with him.

Wan who was born in Belize to Chinese immigrants to that country, came to the United States at the age of three. As one of York’s active undergraduate researchers, he wanted to graduate in three years and move on to medical school since his military service had deferred his college dream by four years. He is also making his family proud by being the first member of the Wan family to go to college.

            Now at 25, Wan is graduating with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.99 and sings the praises of York’s outstanding professors and counselors for helping him to reach his goal.

            “I came here for the Physician Assistant Program (PA),” says Wan. “While I was still in the Military I came home to check out schools. I went to St. John’s and to York and when I got to York the first person I saw was Dr. [Emmanuel] Chang. He was doing something else and he dropped that to help me. I knew this was where I wanted to be.”

            And it has served him well.

            “It’s ironic,” says Wan who graduated from Benjamin Cardozo High School in Bayside, Queens. “It took me three tries to pass chemistry in high school and now I will be applying to medical school after majoring in Chemistry at York.”

            Wan is partial to the medical programs at SUNY Downstate Medical and Stony Brook University. Though he bears no physical evidence of his Iraq experience, he says he did sustain concussions and that such injuries can manifest themselves in potentially fatal ways later on.

            He plans to pursue a concentration in neurology to help veterans and others with neurological disorders (nerve damage). His war experience included loss one of his best friends in the War and promised then “not to let any more Marines die on my watch.”

            To this end he sometimes got out of the convoy and walked on his hands and knees looking for explosives in the path. Wan has come full circle. He joined the Service to fund his college education as he was reluctant to burden his parents with paying for two children’s college education.

            The Commencement Exercises will take place on the campus’ athletic field bordered by Liberty Avenue and South Road, from 9 – 12 noon.

 York College, a senior college of The City University of New York (CUNY), offers baccalaureate degrees in the liberal arts and sciences, accounting and business, journalism, communications technology, computer science, social work, teacher education, various health professions including nursing and aviation management. York College is the only CUNY senior college offering majors in gerontology, biotechnology, information systems management and a BS/MS degree in occupational therapy. For more information: