Long Island City, NY— Faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of the College gathered in the Jacob K. Javits Center North on September 21 to celebrate the conferring of degrees on LaGuardia Community College’s 40th graduating class, the Class of 2012. This year, the College graduated 2,500 students.
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To culminate LaGuardia Community College’s yearlong 40th anniversary celebration, Dr. Sandra Sellers Hanson, one of the College’s founding faculty members, gave the Keynote Address at the ceremony.
Dr. Paul Arcario, the College’s Dean for Academic Affairs welcomed the Class of 2012 to the ceremony, and introduced Presidential Platform party, comprised of faculty representatives from each Department and Certificate Program at LaGuardia.
The Class of 2012 is a diverse cohort: 40% are between the ages of 18-24; 26% are between 25-29 years of age; 14% are between the ages of 30-34; 13% are between the ages of 35-44; 6% are age 45 and over.
Thirty-three percent of LaGuardia’s Class of 2012 are Hispanic; 21% identify themselves as Asian/Pacific Islanders; 15% are Black, non-Hispanic; 13% are White, non-Hispanic. Sixty-six percent live in Queens; 15% live in Brooklyn; 8% live in Manhattan; 8% live in the Bronx; and 4% live elsewhere.
Degrees awarded this year encompass: 31% Associate in Applied Science; 36% Associate in Sciences; 30% Associate in Arts; 3% Certificate. First to offer well wishes to the graduates was the Honorable Rita DiMartino, a Trustee of the Board of the City University of New York.
“You are the pride of CUNY, Queens and New York,” Dr. DiMartino told the Class of 2012. “You may be the first in your family to receive a college degree, and you did it the old fashioned way: You earned it. A good measure of your success is due to the dedicated faculty at LaGuardia. Class of 2012, today your journey is just beginning. Become and agent of change in your own life and the lives of those who cross your path, for you proudly mirror the spirit of our young country. On behalf of the Boar of Trustees of the City University of New York, congratulations!”
“Good morning 2012 graduates! You guys are awesome!” said CUNY Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Dr. Frank Sanchez told the Class of 2012 in his remarks. “I must also thank the amazing LaGuardia faculty and staff for providing an unparalleled college experience for you. On behalf of the Chancellor, I want to thank you, the Class of 2012, for not giving up, depute the adversity many of you had to overcome to get here. You are strengthening your families, your communities, and your generation. We salute our veteran graduates for serving in the Armed Forces. Now you will be serving our community in the workforce. And we salute those of you who raised children while getting your degree. Congratulations, and job well done!”
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall also offered encouragement and kudos to the new grads. “You made it, you made it! Give yourselves a big hand. As a LaGuardia graduate, you can be a model for world peace. Do not forget how to care and to feel, to be open to others who think differently than you. I am confident your song will be heard throughout the word. God bless and godspeed.”
LaGuardia Alumni Association President Anthony Pappas welcomed the graduates as new alumni.
“Take a moment to look around you; you should be so proud of what you have accomplished,” he said. “Everyone here shares that pride with you. That pride is what connects members of the Alumni Association. We all have different stories about our time at the College, but what unites us is the fact that we succeeded and we want to stay connected to this special place that gave us our start.”
Beaming with pride, Dr. Gail O. Mellow, President of LaGuardia, addressed the graduates.
“I cannot tell you how phenomenally terrific you look, I am so proud of each and every one of you,” said Dr. Mellow. “I know what you brought to us was very precious: your hearts your souls and your minds, hopefully they are bigger ad smarter as you go out from here to live your lives. Life is about the relationships with people; honoring the people in your work and family, and giving back. The faculty and staff here consider it an honor to have worked with you. Congratulations!”
Keynote speaker, Dr. Sellers 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.
“President Mellow’s letter inviting me to address you refers to the “new programs and amazingly talented and dedicated faculty who inspire students to write their own futures,” she said. “Isn’t that a wonderful phrase – to write one’s own future – and, in the larger picture, that is what English Department faculty strive to do – to help students write their own futures. But, of course, all of the academic departments and faculty have similar missions – to help students learn and achieve in order to create their own futures. Departments create new majors and faculty strive for teaching excellence. Again, it takes a community to make a college and LaGuardia put the “Community” in Community College. Always be proud to have graduated from a Community College. Be very proud!”
Student Representative for Class of 2012, T. Harmonie Kobanghe concluded the congratulatory remarks for the ceremony. Harmonie, an Honors student, was 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.
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.
“Today is the beginning of a new life for all of us, and as we go our separate ways, I would like to remind you of the importance of our achievement” said Harmonie. “I would like to remind you of what it means to be college educated. Being college educated means more than the countless numbers of hours you stayed up to study for your calculus exam. Being college educated means more than having received the training to become an accountant or a nurse. Being college educated means that we not only have the power to empower our communities but also the people in our communities whose dreams, just like ours, were deferred.
Congratulations to the Class of 2012. I commend you for your well-deserved success, wishing you the best in your future endeavors, knowing that our paths will cross again, at the top of the world.”
Finally, President Mellow conferred the Associate degrees upon the graduates as they processed across the stage smiling radiantly.
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Located in Long Island City, Queens in New York City, LaGuardia Community College,part of the City University of New York, is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges. Founded in 1971, the College is recognized as an innovator in educating students who are under prepared for college work and/or are not primary English speakers. A catalyst for development in western Queens and beyond, LaGuardia serves New Yorkers and immigrants from 153 countries through over 50 majors and certificate programs, enabling career advancement and transfer to four-year colleges at twice the national average. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.