Under a gleaming white tent, a joyful sea of graduates were addressed by Dr. Diane B. Call, President of Queensborough Community College, who said, “On this very special day we celebrate the amazing accomplishments of our students who come from all corners of the world to realize their academic dreams.” The Class of 2014 represented more than 125 countries and more than 80 native languages. A rich diversity amid a sea of graduates has long been a distinguishing trademark of Queensborough.
Among the outstanding graduates is Ms. Yueting Chen who attained an Associate degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences from Queensborough in January 2014 and is now a junior atStony Brook University. Ms. Chen was chosen as one of 85 students to receive a 2014 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship (3,705 undergraduate community college students in the USA applied this year).
Many in the Class of 2014 have been accepted to prestigious colleges and universities across the country including The City University of New York (CUNY), New York University, Dartmouth College, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University, Cornell University and Georgetown University.
President Call also paid tribute to Queensborough’s graduating veterans who have served in the armed forces. Among them is Stephen Jones, a “Vietnam Era” Veteran, who graduated from Queensborough with an Associate in Applied Science Degree in New Media Technology. He has a G.P.A. of 3.3 and is on the Dean’s list.
From the podium, he exclaimed to his fellow graduates, “It was scary coming back to school at 60, but I made it–we made it!”
Stephen described growing up in South Jamaica, Queens where he left school at the end of eighth grade. By 17, he had enlisted in the United States Army and returned home at 19 as a “Vietnam Era” Veteran with no high school diploma and no job prospects. For years he worked in low-wage maintenance jobs at factories.
“I knew there had to be a better way to make a living” said Stephen, who eventually earned a Veterans General Education Diploma (GED). Determined to keep moving forward, he began exploring area community colleges to further his education. He noted that Queensborough offered what others did not: small class sizes and a multitude of support programs for nontraditional students. He enrolled full-time in the fall of 2012—43 years after earning his GED.
Stephen Jones received a rousing standing ovation as he received his diploma.
Special guests included several members of Queensborough’s Class of 1964 (Golden Jubilee) and the Class of 1989 (Silver Anniversary).
Class of 2014 Commencement Awards:
Mr. James Conroy: The President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Associate in Arts Degree.
Mr. Kin Cheung Leung and Mr. Sung Sohn: The President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Associate in Science Degree.
Mr. Allen Berlot: The President’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Associate in Applied Science Degree
Damian Ewko: John F. Kennedy Memorial Award for outstanding College and community leadership.
Stephen Jones: Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for exceptional leadership in promoting racial harmony and appreciation of cultural diversity.
Distinguished guests who offered remarks included The Honorable Wellington Chen B.A., CUNY Board of Trustees; The Honorable Iris Weinshall, B.A. M.A., Vice Chancellor for Facilities, Planning, Construction & Management; Alexandra Tarasko, B.S., M.A., R.N., Chairperson, Faculty Executive Committee, Professor and Deputy Chairperson, Nursing; and Peter Bales, Ph.D., Chairperson, Academic Senate Steering Committee, Associate Professor, History.
Also present at the ceremony to offer their support were New York State Senator, Toby Ann Stavisky; New York State Assemblymembers, David I. Weprin; Nily Rozic; and Edward C. Braunstein.