LaGuardia Community College Holds its 40th Commencement on September 21


 Long Island City, NY—To culminate LaGuardia Community College’s yearlong 40th anniversary celebration,  Dr. Sandra Hanson, one of the College’s founding faculty members, will be giving the keynote address at the 40th Annual Commencement Exercises on September 21.

Dr. Hanson, the chairperson of the English Department who joined the faculty in 1974, will address an expected 1,000 graduates who are attending the exercises at the Jacob K. Javits Center North.  The graduating class of 2012 totals some 2,500 students.

Representing the Class of 2012 will be T. Harmonie Kobanghe, an Honors student and the recipient of the 2012 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, a premier national scholarship that will provide her with $30,000 a year throughout her undergraduate experience at Georgetown University where she will be majoring in International Relations with a minor in Women and Gender Studies.  She is also the recipient of the Finch Scholarship.

Dr. Hanson joined the young institution three years after it opened its doors and served for five years as Director of Composition.  In 1984 she was elected to the first of nine three-year terms as chairperson of the English Department.  The Department houses the Writing Program as well as a Writing and Literature major, which is fully articulated with Queens College and John Jay College.  It also has a Liberal Arts Journalism option, which is articulated with Brooklyn College and a Creative Writing major articulated with York College.  In the fall of 2012 she begins her final academic year as Chair of the Department of 63 full-time and 87 part-time faculty members.

Beyond her academic service in the English Department, Dr. Hanson was Chair and Co-Chair of the LaGuardia Faculty Council for six years, helping to initiate the Faculty Council Auction for which faculty donated items and services to be auctioned to raise money for student scholarship.  The auction continues as a popular tradition at the College. She also chaired the LaGuardia Academic Standing Committee for the past seven years as well as the CUNY English Discipline Council for five years and has served on numerous other College and University committees and task forces.

Throughout her three years at the College, Harmonie, a Liberal Arts: Social Science and Humanities major had a stellar academic career, maintaining a 3.94 G.P.A.  As one of the top students in the Honors Program, Harmonie not only completed the Honors Concentration by taking at least seven Honors courses, but this past spring she took two Honors courses, breaking the program’s record. 

Along with distinguishing herself as a scholar, she developed into a skillful college leader.  She served as a chapter officer of the PTK Honors Society, and went on to be elected vice president of PTK New York Region Southern District. She was the founding member of the Honors Program’s Honors Student Advisory Committee, which organizes activities and events for the honors student community, and was appointed co-chair.  She also has led peer workshops on transfer application strategies and was a French language tutor. 

As a passionate human rights advocate, Harmonie selected extracurricular projects that would fulfill her interests in social justice.  After learning in her U.S. Power and Politics class that the criminal justice system is biased toward African-American males, she decided to learn first hand how the system operates by volunteering as a social counselor at the Grievance Program at Rikers Island.  

An internship at the office of New York State Malcolm A. Smith, through the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus CUNY Scholars Program, allowed her to address another one of her concerns: stopping gun violence.  After her internships she stayed on as a volunteer to another year.

After earning a bachelor’s degree she plans on completing a law degree with a focus on international women human’s rights.  Ultimately, as a human rights lawyer, she hopes to create an international organization to help the women of the Congo who were victims of violence and war reclaim their lives, become empowered, and gain a voice in the governance of their countries.

“Whenever I reflect on my educational path, I see that I have only been able to accomplish so much because of the support of people who believe in my passion,” said Harmonie.  “It is therefore my duty to be of similar service to others.  So I always keep in sight my dream of going to the Congo to improve the lives of others, just like others have done for me.”

 Learn more about our 2012 graduates at the College’s commencement website:

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 LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit to learn more.