Graduates from Albania to Zambia Shine at 43rd Commencement Exercises

On Friday, May 31, 2013, York College will host its 43rd Commencement. At 1,046 strong, the Class of 2013 is the institution’s largest to date. Most are immigrants, spanning the globe from Albania to Zambia.

Chemistry major, Debra Whorms, an immigrant from Jamaica, West Indies, has been selected valedictorian. Ms. Whorms, who is in the process of applying to medical school, is the first member of her family to attend college.

Several members of the Class of 2013 have already been accepted into medical, PhD and general graduate school programs have accepted job offers or are planning international research trips.

Robert Fernandez, a Biotechnology major who has dealt with thorny immigration issues as an undocumented immigrant, came to the United States from his native Peru at the age of four. He is a brilliant student researcher who has also done summer internships at Princeton and Columbia Universities. He received acceptance letters into numerous Ivy League universities, choosing Yale, whose fellowship offer of $32,000 per year was the clincher for him. He will pursue his PhD in Neuro-degenerative research at Yale.

Also in this graduating class is Patrick Menzies, a Microbiology major who was accepted into PhD programs in nine west coast area universities. He will attend the University of California, San Diego, to study Biomedical Science. Menzies, who came to York with a baccalaureate degree in History and Science from Harvard University, is a son of physicians who emigrated from Belize in Central America. He will receive a fellowship of more than $30,000 per year from UC/San Diego.

Vierka Vasquez, a Political Science major, is on her way to Ghana with Operation Crossroads Africa, right after graduation. She is the recipient of the 2012 American Political Science Association's Ralph Bunche Award for promising political scientists. Ms. Vasquez is one of only 25 students selected nationwide for this program. She has also been a CUNY Scholars winner and was recently awarded a mentorship program from the New York City Bar Association.

The Class of 2013 ranges in age from 21 to 69 and includes at least one mother and daughter duo; a retired New York City police officer who rushed to help at the World Trade Center on 9/11,  and eight veterans, three of whom are graduating with honors.

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