More than 4,000 students graduate from Brooklyn College at 91st Commencement
On June 1 and 2, Brooklyn College celebrated its 91st Commencement with more than 4,300 graduating students. The Class of 2016 — with 3,125 baccalaureate and 1,239 master’s degree recipients — was the largest among Brooklyn higher education institutions. Master’s ceremonies were held at Whitman Hall and the baccalaureate ceremony was held on the college’s East Quadrangle.
Paul Beatty, educator, satirist, and winner of the National Book Critics Circle award, delivered the master’s I keynote address and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Noted lighting designer Howard Brandston, who received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, was the master’s II keynote speaker.
“Brooklyn College opened up a world I never knew,” said 1958 graduate Chief Justice Deborah Poritz to the baccalaureate candidates. Poritz, who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, has had a distinguished career in public service as an attorney and a jurist. “I never dreamed that what I learned then about language would provide the key to understanding the law. It was not until I became a lawyer and a judge that I fully understood the gift I had been given.”
Poritz asked the graduating class to “make a commitment to participate in the democratic process. You must work hard to shape the world you live in to inform, not inflame, through direct involvement in public discourse. Armed with what you’ve learned at Brooklyn College you must do better, you will do better.”
“You have been diligent in your studies, you have been challenged by your professors, and you have remained focused on achieving your goals,” said Brooklyn College President Karen L. Gould. Gould, the college’s first-ever woman president, will conclude her seventh year in office this June. “You have been broadened by the tremendous diversity of backgrounds that exists on our college campus, and you have contributed to the vitality of our college community in myriad of ways.”
1962 graduate, The Hon. Rhoda Jacobs, who has served in the New York State Assembly for 36 years, received the Distinguished Alumna Award, and Brooklyn College Foundation member Donald Kramer ’58 received the Presidential Medal.
Class of 2016 Salutatorian Stephanie Taormina said, “Brooklyn College made it easy for me to adjust by providing an environment where I was surrounded by diverse, intellectual and genuine faculty and peers who saw a potential in me I never knew I possessed and motivated me to focus my energy into positive efforts. Thank you opening up the door of endless opportunity and for placing our education in the hands of extraordinary professors.”
“Brooklyn College is an institution that not only tolerates its diversity but embraces it,” said Class of 2016 Valedictorian Jennifer Mikhli-Forkosh. She also spoke of the kinship she shared with fellow first-generation Americans. “I know that many are quick to say that the American dream is no longer alive but to me and to my parents and to your parents and ancestors, whether of indigenous or immigrant background, this is the American dream, a dream that you will take along on your bright futures that lie in wait for you to claim them. So go out and claim those illustrious futures.”
Other speakers included Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Hon. Una S. T-Clarke.
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