53rd commencement at Stony Brook University

Students cheer during the Stony Brook University graduation

Students cheer during the Stony Brook University graduation held on the field of LaValle Stadium. (May 24, 2013) (Credit: Steve Pfost)

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Number of graduates

3,388 bachelor's, 1,472 master's, 361 doctoral, 130 doctor of medicine and 36 doctor of dental surgery degrees, and 256 certificates

Faculty speaker

President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley told the Class of 2013 he has a special place in his heart for them because, like many of the graduates, he came to the university in 2009. "I know many of you will be leaving campus, but I want you to know that those of us who stay behind will continue to work tirelessly to improve Stony Brook University. And make no mistake about it, our excellence will add value to your degree."

Guest speaker

Terence Netter, founding director of SBU's Staller Center for the Arts and a renowned artist and educator, received an honorary doctorate. He talked about the importance of art and culture in society. "If there were no reflecting surfaces in the world, we wouldn't know how we really look physically. If there were no art, we would not know how we look spiritually."

Student speaker

Philly Bubaris, 21, of Nesconset, bachelor's in journalism, selected by a panel of students and faculty to give a graduation address, told students that college life was a constant juggling act that prepared them for the future. "No matter where we go next, things won't get simpler. It will get more complicated. And we'll need all those fancy moves we learned in Juggling 101."

Richard Runcie, 22, of the Bronx, bachelor's, applied mathematics

"I'm interviewing for jobs right now. I'm pretty confident I'll get something, but it hasn't happened yet. As for long term, I'm just as lost as everyone else, I guess."

Sanayia Rouff, 22, of Brooklyn, bachelor's, double major in sociology and women's studies

"I have a job as a teacher in a day care. I'm going to get my master's in early childhood education. There have been people who have tried to convince me out of it, but I just really have a passion for teaching children. I think if you don't have that passion, you shouldn't be in the classroom."

Anna Feng, 22, of Brooklyn, bachelor's, nuclear medicine

"I plan to study for my certification in CT [computed tomography] and then start a rotation in a hospital. I want to have patient contact."

Robert Forai, 22, of Serbia, bachelor's, health sciences

"I'm going for my master's in sports medicine at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. I want to be a sports physical therapist," the international student said. "I'm not sure where I'm going to eventually live. Probably somewhere in Europe, but we'll see."

Zach Szakmary, 66, of Shirley, bachelor's, history

Szakmary said he quit college in 1967 to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving during the Vietnam War before he was shot in the shoulder by friendly fire. He left Vietnam in June 1969 to complete the balance of his enlistment at Camp Lejeune, N.C. He received nine decorations, including a Combat Action Ribbon and a Presidential Unit Citation. He was discharged in 1970 after a relapse of malaria. Szakmary worked 20 years as an air traffic controller, serving at Islip, Republic and Kennedy airports. "I'm going to continue volunteering at the William Floyd Estate on Fire Island and do research on Colonial history on Long Island," he said. "It was really an accident that I got this degree. I only intended to audit a class."

-- CANDICE FERRETTE

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