By Gina Martinez
More than 3,000 graduates attended Queens College 93rd commencement ceremony last Friday on the campus’s quadrangle located at 65-30 Kissena Blvd.
The ceremony, presided over by President Felix Matos Rodriguez, featured a commencement address by Congresswoman Grace Meng (D- Flushing), who was given the Queens College Presidents Medal by Rodriguez. Nina Bakoyiannis gave the Class of 2017 graduate address, and graduates from the class of 1967, 1957 and 1947 were honored as well.
Meng was introduced by Rodriguez, who called the lawmaker “a Queens native who embodies so many of the qualities we hope to develop in our students” and a “consistent advocate for Queens College.”
After being given the medal, Meng addressed the graduating class, asking them to take a moment to thank and recognize their family and friends who helped them along their college journey.
“My message this morning is a simple,” Meng said. “It’s a line from Pulitzer winning author Annie Dillard, who wrote in her book ‘The Writing Life’ ‘how we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.’ For the majority of the graduating class, you’ve spent the better part of the last two decades listening to your parents, your teachers, your coaches or professors. You’ve been told what to read, what to do, how to act and what comes next. That ends today. Until this moment you’ve lived confined by a life without the advantages preferred by a Queens College degree. To each graduate, I say tomorrow is a new beginning, a new life.”
Saul Kupferberg received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Kupferberg is a member of the Queens College Foundation and a founding member and current chair of the Kupferberg Center Arts Advisory Board at Queens College, Kupferberg is the son of the late Max and Selma Kupferberg, in whose honor Colden Center was renamed the Kupferberg Center for the Arts, and former vice president of sales and marketing for Kepco, a global power supply and electrical equipment company based in Flushing.
Bakoyiannis then addressed fellow graduates with an inspiring speech. She graduated summa cum laude with majors in psychology and English, and worked as a research assistant for a study on the psychological impact of smoking during pregnancy. Bakoyiannis is also the co-author of a forthcoming article on the findings.
“I’m incredibly humbled and honored to be your student commencement speaker,” she said.
“Learning and growing alongside all of you over the past four years has been an incredible journey and I’m grateful to have shared it with this community. The stress of papers, finals, late nights and impending deadlines was a small price to pay for the honor of being a part of the class of 2017. We came to Queens College seeking knowledge, growth, lasting friendships and let’s not kids ourselves — the chance of getting a well-paying job after graduation. And I can confidently say that this university has provided us with all that and much more.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart