NUMBER OF GRADUATES

627 bachelor's degrees, 717 master's and 47 doctorates.

STUDENT SPEAKER

Valedictorian Michael Guethlein, of East Northport, received a bachelor's degree in aviation management. He told the students: "While we may not be getting our PhD today, graduating from college is a great accomplishment . . . We should not get so caught up on the destination that we forget about the journey."

COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS

Dowling College president Jeremy D. Brown told the students in the inaugural presidential address:

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"Class of 2012, you will come to realize the value of the Dowling experience, and as a result of your time here you will raise Dowling College's stock and reputation through your success. And for that, I must thank you in advance. For me, your graduating class is the beginning of a new era at Dowling."

STUDENTS' REACTIONS

John Schretzman, 22, aviation management

"I feel awesome! I am finally out of school. I thank my family for all the support they have given me in 22 years." Interviewed with the Federal Aviation Administration for a job as an air traffic controller.

Jessica Fitzgerald, 27, sociology and anthropology

"I am at a loss for words. I am overjoyed, and I am glad and happy to have graduated." Contemplating getting her master's degree in research.

Gabrielle Giuffrida, 22, communications

"My job is to find something I can do and look forward to waking up and going to every day." Applying for jobs as a public relations specialist in media companies.

Christopher Silverio, 23, English and creative writing

"I'm happy it's finally over. The future is looking bright as long as I continue to work hard. I will just keep dreaming." Seeking a career as a sports journalist or songwriter.