Virtual Celebration of York College’s Historic Class of 2020
Proud family, friends, faculty, staff, administrators and distinguished guests from around-the-world logged in on WebEx and York College’s Facebook and YouTube pages to celebrate the accomplishments of the 1239 graduates.
York Interim President Dr. Berenecea Johnson Eanes, hosting
her first such ceremony at York, brought greetings and thanked the Alumni Association for leading her with a modest caravan to visit the homes of a few graduates to deliver free diploma covers on May 26th. “I so look forward to the day that we’ll be able to be together and celebrate,” said Dr. Eanes.
Class Valedictorian Aamina Bibi said that the moment felt bittersweet but thanked God for the opportunity to speak to her peers. “Know the value that education holds and don’t forget to share this moment with your friends, family, professors and mentors who have guided and supported you on this journey,” she said. “We together are ready to face the challenges ahead. You are all the stars of the future.”
Special guest speaker former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder assured graduates that this is both a rare and ‘exciting’ time.
“Your responsibilities as graduates of this great college is to overcome the circumstances thrown at you and to use your formidable skills to make better the nation that you will now be called upon to serve and ultimately to lead,” said Holder.
Holder encouraged the Class of 2020 to “ask how you can help to address longstanding issues of inequality, injustice, unfairness and race that this pandemic has helped to make even more apparent. Be leaders in the fight for our climate and struggle to protect and to improve our electoral system, and in the quest to ensure the civil liberties of all in this nation.”
Several distinguished guests addressed the graduates including, in order of appearance, Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee, State Senator Leroy Comrie, Councilmember Adrienne Adams, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, and Congressman Gregory Meeks.
“You are graduating at a most critical time in our borough, in our city, in our state and certainly in the nation’s history” said Lee. “On our immediate horizon is a road to recovery and a road of rebuild. And I hope that you will surge forth with the same determination and the perseverance, the same battle-tested, pandemic-tested perseverance on what that rebuild can, should and will be. Your success is our success.”
Comrie also had saluted the graduates. “I am incredibly proud of the persistence that each of you has shown, not only navigating the apex of your college careers during a pandemic, but for every effort that you have put forth from day one,” said Comrie, who represents the 14th Senate District. “I hope that you stay in our neighborhood and in our city, where you can be the leaders that you truly want to be.”
Adams also added her congratulations. “Graduates you’re making your mark in history today - for a myriad of reasons, said Adams, who represents the 28th Council District. You’re moving out into the next phase of your amazing, promising, historical lives and you are to be celebrated and saluted. As you move on, upward into your greatness, keep reaching for your goals and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. You are our pride and joy. Never forget where you came from because you will be expected to give back to your community. Now go on and change the world!”
Senator Schumer, who almost certainly would have been at the in-person commencement ceremony, had it not been postponed, was also encouraging.
“What has been true throughout history is just as true today,” said New York’s senior senator. “That even in times of difficulty, there are always new opportunities, new ways of thinking, of doing things in a better way. It’s natural to fear the unknown but don’t let the harshness of this current moment prevent you from seizing opportunities. You are our future leaders and we have faith in you.”
Congressman Meeks – 5th Congressional District -- added his sentiments.
“You are York College’s honor, your family’s pride, and this country’s greatest hope,” said Meeks “What you’ve gained as students at [York] can never be taken away from you. It makes you exceptionally ready to handle whatever comes your way. It is a foundation that you can build upon and put it to service for your advancement in our nation’s stability. For your generation, I will paraphrase a current African-American poet, Kendrick Lamar: ‘We gon’ be alright. I have unshakeable faith in your resilience, in your brilliance, and your fortitude.”
Individual virtual celebrations were held on May 26th, 27th and 29th for graduates of the History, Philosophy, Anthropology, Interdisciplinary Studies, Black Studies, World Languages, Behavioral Sciences, Social Work, Business and Economics, Accounting, Finance, English, Earth and Physical Sciences, and Teacher Education programs.
Congratulations to the Class of 2020!