York Graduates 44th and Largest Class
Commencement 2014 was York College's 44th but in at least one way, it was a first.
For the first time in the history of the 48 year-old CUNY institution, York departed from its standard commencement model and separated this year's graduating class of 1070 – its largest class ever - for three separate ceremonies for the day.
The graduates were separated into their individual schools:
- The School of Health and Behavioral Sciences,
- School of Arts and Sciences and the
- School of Business and Information Systems
With the ceremonies held at 9:00 am, 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm, respectively in the college's Milton G. Bassin Performing Arts Center.
Among other advantages, this pilot format provided the opportunity for two additional student speakers as opposed to the usual valedictorian-only student speaker.
Ms. Katsiaryna Hud, the valedictorian, and Chemistry major, who came out of the School of Arts and Sciences; Ms. Irene Hanna, a Social Work major, was the distinguished student speaker for the School of Health and Behavioral Sciences, while Ms. Kateryna Kats spoke on behalf of the School of Business and Information Systems. Kats, an Accountant major, has already passed the CPA Exam and is fielding job offers.
Keynote speakers, Dr. Karen Maybank, Journalist Julian Phillips and JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes, were also inspiring. Among the special guests were Assemblywoman Vivian E. Cook at the commencement for the School of Health and Behavioral Sciences; and Congressman Gregory M. Meeks, who addressed the graduates of the School of Business and Information Systems; as were members of the CUNY Chancellery Trustees.
Hud, the valedictorian, had a particularly touching story of how she came to York after entering the United States as a refugee from Belarus.
"When I took the (CUNY) entrance exam to enter college, I passed math with a perfect score and failed English miserably," said Hud who is fluent in her native Belarusian and Russian languages. "As a result, I was rejected by all the CUNY schools to which I applied. As fate would have it, I felt compelled to explain my situation to someone and the school that I chose to visit was York."
"The Admission Officer, whom I spoke to, examined my entrance exam scores and my high school transcript from my country, and realized that my obstacle was one of technicality, and failed to represent my academic ability. Her subsequent decision would be an example of the long standing values which I admire most about York College and that is believing in its students and providing them with unconditional guidance to make sure that all its children succeed."
Hud now plans to enter medical school in the fall of 2015.
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