On Wednesday, June 1, more than 3,400 John Jay students became the College’s newest alumni at the 51st annual Commencement ceremonies, held at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden.
“The Class of 2016 is one of our largest ever,” said President Jeremy Travis, “and I am confident that our newest graduates, like the tens of thousands who have preceded them, will go forth from John Jay ready to make their mark locally, nationally and globally as fierce advocates for justice.”
The graduating class was led by valedictorian Albin Lepiz, an
International Criminal Justice major who earned a perfect 4.00 grade-point average. In his remarks to his fellow graduates, Lepiz called on them to seek unity of purpose in the pursuit of justice. “Although our interpretations of justice and the type of justice we seek may be different, we must not emphasize our differences, but remind ourselves of the extraordinary achievements we as Americans together have accomplished,” said Lepiz. “If we continue on our present path of division we will not be able to provide effective leadership to accomplish our objectives. If we cherish liberty and desire justice we must remain united to achieve the progress we seek.”
Honorary doctorates were presented at the 10:30 A.M. and 3:30 P.M. ceremonies to two individuals with outstanding credentials as “fierce advocates for justice”: playwright Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues” and a long-time activist in the field of gender justice; and Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, a distinguished law professor at both the U.C.L.A. and Columbia University law schools and a prominent scholar of civil rights law and critical race theory.
Graduates also heard greetings from a special surprise guest, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, who congratulated the newest John Jay alumni and, recalling pivotal moments from his own life, urged them to “Go for it!”
Ten former students from John Jay’s “Founding Generation” were on hand as honored guests to celebrate the latest fellow members of the College’s worldwide community of more than 60,000 alumni: John Grimes (1967); Robert Hogan (1971); William Stump (1973); Rodney Benson (1976); Roger Johnson (1976); Elsbeth Reimann (1976); Rodney Jackson (1977); Benjamin Tucker (1977); Richard Gallo (1979), and Linda Reynolds (1980).
President Travis emphasized to the graduates that they were earning degrees from “a college unlike any other in the world.”
“No other institution in the world – none – can claim John Jay College’s mission of educating for justice,” he said. “No other educational community commits itself to being fierce advocates for justice. You have been tested. You have succeeded. You are ready to change the world. We can’t wait to see what you do to advance the cause of justice!”
Preliminary data from the College registrar’s office show a graduating class comprising 1,363 males and 2,044 females, ranging in age from 19-year-old Anthony Orlando to 72-year-old
Lucille Burrascano. There were 2,930 bachelor’s degrees awarded, along with 634 master’s degrees. The class includes 143 military veterans and 379 international students representing 82 countries.
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