Guttman Community College to Mark Its Inaugural Commencement on Wednesday, August 27, 2014

August 15, 2014 | Events

NEW YORK, NY, August 15, 2014–Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, The City University of New York’s first new community college in more than 40 years, will celebrate its first commencement on August 27th. The commencement ceremony will take place on Wednesday, August 27, 2014, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 524 West 59th Street, New York, N.Y.

Speakers will include Gale A. Brewer, Manhattan Borough President; CUNY Board of Trustees Vice Chairperson Philip Berry; CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken; and Dr. Nicole-Saint-Louis, a founding faculty member of the College and Assistant Professor of Human Services.

Chancellor James B. Milliken stated: “The first graduation ceremony of the Stella and Charles Guttman Community College is a major milestone for CUNY. The school was launched two years ago with the goal of improving the graduation rates of community college students, enhancing academic quality, and preparing its graduates for success in their ongoing studies and professional lives. The impressive accomplishments of today’s graduates exemplify the College’s innovative, student-centered model. They have excelled academically and engaged in a variety of civic opportunities both on campus and in New York City to meet the needs of their classmates and their communities.”

Guttman’s Founding President, Scott E. Evenbeck, said: “We are very proud of the outstanding achievements of our inaugural class, who were pioneers in creating CUNY’s newest community college. Everything our first cohort of students did during their two years with us has shaped the College for future students who will follow in their footsteps. They will also serve as remarkable role models as they continue their education at four-year colleges and embark on successful careers to make lasting contributions to their communities and to the City of New York.”

Among the noteworthy Guttman graduates are:

Talia Arif, who has been actively engaged in civic affairs and participated in the Caucus CUNY Scholars Program, a local internship program for students who are interested in service for the New York State Legislature. She also took part in the prestigious Edward T. Rogowsky Internship Program in Government and Public Affairs, the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus CUNY Scholars Program, and attended the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators 43rd Annual Legislative Conference. She will pursue a degree in psychology at City College.

Bobby Ashley has been professionally active in film since age 12. After his first year at Guttman he began working on “Repercussions,” a story about an aspiring journalist who faces personal challenges not unlike those confronting college students. Ashley wrote, directed, executive produced and edited the screenplay with assistance from several Guttman classmates. The Brooklyn-native, who considers himself an independent artist and a “dream chaser,” will study film at Brooklyn College and hopes to become a screenwriter, director and producer.

Alfajo Jallow, a native of Gambia, is a business administration major and a self-taught artist whose abstract acrylic pieces incorporate recycled objects, giving new meaning to items such as Starbucks cups and pizza boxes. His work also conveys the importance of not wasting materials. Jallow worked with fellow students to create art displays throughout the Guttman building. The recipient of the 2014 African Youth Excellence Arts Award from African Youth Excellence, he served as president of Guttman’s Student Government Association and was Vice-Chairperson for International Students of CUNY’s University Student Senate. The winner of the CUNY Vice Chancellor’s Excellence in Leadership Award, Alfajo will study international political economy at Fordham University.

Gibsy Lino has dedicated herself to serving those in need. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy she helped rebuild houses in Far Rockaway, Queens. Born and raised in Honduras, she also coaches students at the Manhattan International High School to help them enroll successfully in college, and volunteers with cerebral palsy patients. At Guttman she was an Academic Success Peer Mentor to support fellow students, and an executive member of the Trending News Update Club to engage students in current issues. A human services major and winner of the 2014 Campus Compact Frank Newman Civic Fellows Award, she will pursue social work at Lehman College.

Tannya Luna, a business administration major, was a strong role model to the first-year students she mentored at Guttman. Luna and her classmates developed an alternative instructional design for the required Studio class during her first year, which she also team-taught. The co-founder and secretary of the Guttman Physical Action to Health Club, she received a 2014 CUNY University Student Senate Ernesto Malave Merit Scholarship, and the CUNY Vice Chancellor’s Excellence in Leadership Award. Born and raised in Ecuador, she will study marketing at Baruch College with the goal of one day starting her own company.

Samuel van der Swaagh was born in China, adopted, and came to the U.S. at age four. A member of the College’s first student newspaper, he also served as a Senator in the Student Government Association. Although legally blind, he has learned to work around his visual impairment. His passion for science and the visual arts led him to participate in the Noguchi Museum’s Make Your Mark program and win an internship with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Several of van der Swaagh’s works have been included in exhibitions around the city. He will study human factors and ergonomics in the CUNY Baccalaureate program and seeks to become an innovator in universal design.

The class valedictorian is Kristine Anne Perez, who is graduating with an associate degree in information technology and will attend City College in the fall to study computer science. Ms. Perez was raised in the Philippines and moved to the U.S. in 2011.

Guttman Community College enrolled its first class of 289 students in fall 2012 with the goal of achieving a three-year graduation rate of 35% for its first cohort. After two years, approximately 80 students from the College’s inaugural class (around 28%) will graduate on August 27, which is significantly higher than the two-year national graduation rate at Large City community colleges (6.3%, IPEDS Graduation Rate Survey). In addition, the College is on track to meet or exceed its three-year graduation goal, which will be considerably higher than the three-year national graduation rate at Large City community colleges (14.6%, IPEDS Graduation Rate Survey). Among this year’s graduating class, approximately 73 students will continue their studies at four-year colleges; 64 will enroll at CUNY senior colleges.

About Guttman Community College:

Stella and Charles Guttman Community College is CUNY’s first new community college in over four decades. Inspired by former CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein’s desire to drastically improve graduation rates for students with a diverse range of linguistic and cultural backgrounds who have often been underserved by higher education, the College officially opened its doors in midtown Manhattan, overlooking Bryant Park, on August 20, 2012.

The College offers associate degree programs in an environment that nurtures student success. Our goal is to increase the graduation rate for our students, many of whom are the first in their family to attend college. Guttman Community College connects field experiences with classroom learning in a structured and supportive environment. All students begin in the Summer Bridge Program and engage fulltime in a city-centered first-year experience before starting their major coursework in one of five degree programs. Instructional teams comprising faculty members, student success advocates, graduate coordinators, peer mentors and library staff create a rich classroom environment complemented by an integrated advisement program to help students stay on the path to graduation.

About The City University of New York:

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University is comprised of 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. The University serves more than 270,000 degree credit students and 218,083 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. Nearly 3 million unique visitors and 10 million page views are served each month via, the University’s website.

EVENT: First Commencement of CUNY’s Stella and Charles Guttman Community College.

DATE AND TIME: Wednesday, August 27, 2014, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

PLACE: The Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 524 West 59th Street, New York, N.Y.


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