Dowling College commencement

Gigi Mussi of Manorville, 23, center, gives two Gigi Mussi of Manorville, 23, center, gives two thumbs up as Abi Nunez of Washington Heights, 22, left, and Katie Murphy of Farmingdale, 22, move their tassels from left to right during the 2014 Dowling College Commencement ceremony in Shirley on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

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Dowling College held its 52nd commencement Wednesday on the lawn of Golden Lion's Field at its Brookhaven campus in Shirley.

Number of degrees

32 doctorates, 421 master's degrees and 524 bachelor's degrees

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Faculty speaker

President Norman R. Smith told graduates the day was about the beginning of their journey, not the end. "You are now among the top 20 to 25 percent of people in your generation who can call themselves college graduates. That's something no one can ever take away from you."

Guest speaker

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Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, who received an honorary degree, offered career advice. "Choose what you love most, and you will have a life of enjoyment," he said. "Worry less about money and more about satisfaction."

Student speaker

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Class of 2014 Valedictorian Kerry M. Anderson said her time at Dowling allowed her to "create herself," adding: "Somewhere within us there is a new version of ourselves we've created here."

Lasheca Lewis, 21, of Wyandanch; political science

"Coming from a place where just getting a high school diploma is the biggest thing, to graduate with a college degree is astonishing for me," said Lewis, who is applying to law school. "This won't be my last graduation ceremony."

Brian Miller, 21, of Smithtown; physical education

"I had such a learning curve as a student and as an individual. I was 17 when I came here, and I feel like I've grown so much since then."

Korey Falconi, 24, art education and Matt Falconi, 21, graphic design

"We met freshman year, and we got married last month," she said.

"We were not expecting to get married in college, but it is really the beginning of a new chapter in our lives," he said.

Nick Chieco, 21, of North Arlington, N.J.; aviation

"I got a full-time job in airport operations at Teterboro Airport," he said. "I eventually want to fly and be an airline pilot, but the management side is most optimistic for me."

- CANDICE FERRETTE

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