Stony Brook University held its 55th commencement ceremony Friday at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

Number of degrees

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473 doctoral degrees; 121 MD degrees; 39 DDS degrees; 1,761 master's degrees; 3,823 bachelor's degrees; and 199 certificates.

President's remarks

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Dr. Samuel L. Stanley told graduates that their Stony Brook degree represents a "very, very good investment" and "we will continue to push to do even better . . . We are committed to excellence, committed to seeing this young university achieve greatness."

Special speakers

Charles B. Wang, businessman and philanthropist who received an honorary doctor of humane letters, joked that he was the "opening act" for singer/songwriter Billy Joel and said, "I have to tell you, this is really cool

I am truly humbled and honored and I am proud to be the recipient of this degree. I accept it with the greatest gratitude."

Billy Joel, Grammy-award-winning musician who received an honorary doctor of music, said, "I'm one of the lucky ones. I knew at a very young age what I was going to do. I knew I was going to be a musician. . . . I hope that by now you have found what it is that you love

. . . And I wish for you the commitment to make what you love your life's work, and I wish for you the stamina to continue that work when you encounter resistance and tough times. And I believe this with all my heart: If you are not doing what you love, you are just wasting your time."

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Student speaker Ashley Rizzotto, sociology major, Brooklyn

"Your personal journey of academic and social success started somewhere here, and will stay with you for the rest of your lif

. Even though we are all coming from different backgrounds and are leaving with different lessons learned, whether we started as a transfer or a freshman, we are always united as Seawolves."

Jason Charles, 22, psychology

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"I'm excited to be done. I liked it, but I feel I am starting the next chapter of my life and I am excited to move on."

Sacha Sellam, 22, art history/French

"I remember my high school graduation, but this is a bigger one. It's the last chapter. This is what it means to be an adult. I'm excited, but apprehensive."

Maralyn Walker, 22, social work

"This year was like a sprint. It happened suddenly, and I'm grateful that I am standing here right now. I'm passionate about [working with] the geriatric population. I'm here without my mom; she is in Jamaica. But she pushed me, and she is here with me in spirit."

Travis Golden, 24, health science

"It's been a good experience. The classes have prepared me for the field I am going into. My concentration is in radiology, and I'm going to be a radiological technologist."