New York College of Health Professions held its 22nd commencement Sunday at the Melville Marriott hotel.

Number of graduates

117 associate degrees, 34 bachelor’s/master’s joint degrees

Commencement speaker

King V. Cheek Jr., new chairman of the college’s board of trustees, a participant in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and a veteran university administrator, spoke about his improved health because of massage therapy and acupuncture. He advised graduates “to practice your craft like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music, like Michelangelo painted pictures — do it so well that no one can do it better. . . . The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

Student speakers

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Walter Nowicki, 38, of Glen Cove, received a bachelor’s of professional studies/master’s of science degree in acupuncture and said, “The times we are living in cry out for something different, something wholistic, something sustainable. Live the medicine as best you can and do something magnificent with it.”

Deanna Basuino, 24, of Staten Island graduated with an associate degree in massage therapy. She told fellow graduates, “We have reached the light at the end of the tunnel . . . we have accomplished a great goal.”


Winter Marie, 49, oriental medicine

“I’ve always been interested in plants and the medicine that plants can create. . . . People need to know about organic medicine,” said Marie, of Lindenhurst. She said she hopes to pursue a doctorate in organic medicine at a hospital being built in Spain.

Justin Choi, 26, acupuncture

“I hope to eventually open my own practice, to help people have a better life,” said Choi, of Queens.

Michelle Damiano, 25, massage therapy

“I want to help people like my mom who are always hurting, to take away their pain,” said Damiano, of Middle Island.

Jamelah A. Clarke, 27, massage therapy

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“I’d like to open a spa for adults and children,” said Clarke, of Brooklyn. “I want to help people.”