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SUNY Empire State College holds 46th commencement

Students walk the stage during the SUNY Empire

Students walk the stage during the SUNY Empire State College commencement at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of LIU Post in Brookville on Saturday, June 16, 2018. Credit: Michael Owens

SUNY Empire State College held its 46th commencement Saturday at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of LIU Post in Brookville.

Number of graduates

401: 72 associate degrees, 294 bachelor’s degrees, 12 advanced graduate certificates and 35 master’s degrees.

Presiding Officer

Officer in Charge of SUNY Empire State College, Mitchell S. Nesler, congratulated the graduating class on their efforts. He especially commended students who had earned diplomas while providing for their families or who were first-generation college students. “Aim high, dream big, and do not ever let anyone stand in your way,” he said.

Student speakers

Jawana Richardson, 57, of Hempstead, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business and management, spoke of the deaths of her son and her husband, the latter killed by a drunken driver. “We’ve all been tested,” she said, “but we got up, dressed or suited up, showed up and spoke up. It wasn’t easy, but we prevailed.” Richardson has been working to toughen traffic laws statewide.

Kim Bennett, 52, of Massapequa Park, who graduated with a bachelor of science degree in community and human services, thanked the friends, family and professors who had motivated her along the way. “We are all standing here today as the graduating class of 2018 because our mentors and the staff at SUNY Empire State College have dedicated themselves to providing the light to steer us toward success,” she said.

— Sabrina Escobar


Bridget Cariello, 45, community and human services

“Having that professional acknowledgment in my ability means a lot to me,” said Cariello, who in the past has worked with people with disabilities.

Andrew Kennedy, 33, business management and economics

“Even before going into the Navy, I wanted to go to college and get my degree,” Kennedy said. He and his wife run a mental health billing business, which the degree has helped him run.

Lavita Payton, 48, nursing

“Never give up,” Payton said. “Always look around and stay focused.” Payton will start SUNY’s master’s program in nursing in September.

Whitney Glass, 34, master’s in business administration

“I got this to further my career,” said Glass, who is an instructor at a local college and wants to pursue a doctorate in the near future.

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