St. Joseph’s College held its 98th commencement Saturday at the NYCB Theater at Westbury.

Number of graduates

1,174: 799 bachelor’s degrees; 375 master’s degrees

Commencement speaker

St. Joseph’s College President Jack Calareso encouraged graduates to take the education they received during their time at school and use it to push for changing their world in whatever career paths they take. “Be the fire for peace in the world,” he said. “Live the life you were educated to live. Be the person you were educated to be.”

Student speaker

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Amanda Rose Butera, a psychology major and president of the school’s Psychology Club, spoke to students about the importance of service and giving back to the community, encouraging fellow graduates to become “a positive force” in the lives of others. “In a time where the country is divided more than ever, we can turn all this negativity into kinetic energy to accomplish our goals and to bring about real, positive change.”

Graduates

Yudith Escobar, 28, psychology

“I never thought I was going to graduate college because I came here not knowing any English and then I had to learn and go to school, so it was a long journey for me,” said Escobar, of Brentwood. “It was very special, and I treasure every single experience.”

Samantha Laine, 22, communications

“The whole experience was great. I loved all my professors here; they were amazing,” said Laine, of Islandia. “This last semester was definitely the most challenging. I was taking 18 credits and I was working, too.”

Ashley Bruno, 21, child study and speech communications

“After graduation, I’ll be a full-time universal pre-kindergarten teacher and I’m getting married,” said Bruno, of Lake Ronkonkoma. “I’m excited.”

Joseph Marinelli, 24, child study

“Student teaching was the most challenging part. I learned a lot about myself and a lot about teaching,” said Marinelli, of Sayville. “I’m teaching special ed and I absolutely love it.”