Five Towns College held its 43rd commencement ceremony Saturday at Half Hollow Hills High School East in Dix Hills.

Number of graduates

133 — 7 associate degrees, 119 bachelor’s degrees, 6 master’s degrees and 1 doctorate

Commencement speakers

Diana J. Cherryholmes, film and cultural affairs director for Suffolk County, recalled the advice her professor father gave her after high school graduation: “Just get yourself organized and do it.” Those words led her to take leadership roles at arts organizations on Long Island and in New York State. “When I say, ‘do it,’ it doesn’t mean waiting for your turn,” she said. “It means you have control when that turn will happen because you are in charge.”

Guitarist Joe Carbone, who has accompanied singers such as Ben Vereen, Fabian and Sammy Davis Jr. and played for U.S. presidents, performed the jazz standard “There Never Will Be Another Year” with professor Peter Rogine. Carbone taught at the college for years.

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Student speakers

Valedictorian Nicole R. Gregory, 24, of Cranford, New Jersey, graduated with a bachelor’s in professional studies/audio recording technology. She spoke about being homeless during college after becoming estranged from her mother: “Because of Five Towns and the experiences that I had, I was able to advance my life.”

Salutatorian David G. Taylor, 24, of Hampton Bays, who earned a bachelor’s in mass communication, said the college’s diversity and sense of community helped him come out as gay. “Before Five Towns, I thought ‘gay’ was a dirty word,” he said. “But now I wear that title with pride. I’ll never go back to hiding who I am to fit in and neither should any of you . . . Be proud of your identity.”

— James T. Madore

Graduates

Brendon Diaz, 21, audio recording technology

“I’ve always loved music and I plan to move to Nashville and become a studio engineer,” said Diaz, of East Meadow.

Ashley Marie Ferraro, 21, theatre

“I love theater so much because it can have an impact on people’s lives,” said Ferraro, of Commack, who co-founded the performing group Characters With A Cause to entertain sick children. She’s interning at Walt Disney World and hopes to become a character actor there.

Shailah E. Phillips, 20, audio recording technology

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“I want to start off at a big record label and then start my own label,” said Phillips, of Brooklyn.

James D. Frasca, 21, film/video

“I was in theater in high school but found it difficult to memorize my lines,” said Frasca, of upstate Schoharie. “So, I decided that I wanted to be behind the camera instead of in front of it.”