Briarcliffe College commencement

Mayte Contreras, Christopher Glaze, Frances Brooks, Thomas Herman
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Mayte Contreras, Christopher Glaze, Frances Brooks, Thomas Herman at the Briarcliffe College commencement held in Brentwood on Saturday, May 17, 2014.(Credit: Veronique Louis)

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Briarcliffe College, with campuses in Bethpage and Patchogue, held its commencement Saturday at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood.

Number of Graduates

650 bachelor's and associate's degrees

Faculty Speaker

President George Santiago Jr. urged graduates to increase "civility toward each other" and "return our communities to a more caring and gentle role." He told graduates, "Promise me that when you leave here today, you will strive to be a better human being in the ways that you treat each other and in the ways you treat those who are less blessed."

Student Speakers

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Valedictorian Nancy Bowe, who received her bachelor's after raising three sons and working at a title insurance company, told fellow graduates to not let obstacles stop them. "I am looking forward to planning my new graphic design career when most of my peers are looking forward to retiring," she said. "Higher education is for everyone at every age."

Guest Speaker

Diane Auer Jones, a molecular biologist who serves as senior vice president of Career Education Corp., an educational services company, told graduates, "Be bold in defining what a good life means to you. Live life on your own terms, and resist the urge to be swayed by society's expectations."

Emilka Caraballo, 20, of Coram, bachelor's in accounting

Caraballo said she's going to pursue a master's in accounting after she takes time off from school to raise her 2-year-old daughter. "Since high school, I've been taking accounting classes. I've always been good in math, so I think it's my perfect field."

Manny Torres, 22, of Mastic, bachelor's in management

Torres said he wants to pursue a career in music promotion. "I want to get myself in order, take a little break, then get my master's, maybe start a business. I'm excited."

Omaira Ferreira, 24, of College Point, Queens, bachelor's in graphic design

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"I work for a company now, so I hope to do graphic design for them and maybe freelance on the side."

Timothy Delwey, 20, of Huntington, associate's in graphic design

"I took the police test, so I hope to become a cop. Since I was a little kid, I wanted to be a cop. I also liked graphic design, so it seemed like a good backup."

Mildred Atkinson, 47, of St. Albans, Queens, associate's in criminal justice

"I'm going to extend for my bachelor's. I'm looking to go into the court system. My children are older now, so I wanted to do me. They're proud of me. It feels good."

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Armani West, 21, of East New York, Brooklyn, associate's in graphic design

"I plan on helping little businesses" with web design, he said. "Who knows, maybe I'll come across a big business. Taking it one day at a time."

- WILL JAMES

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