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Adelphi holds 123rd commencement

A graduate with a decorated mortarboard during Adelphi

A graduate with a decorated mortarboard during Adelphi University's commencement at NYCB Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale on Sunday. Credit: John Roca

Adelphi University held its 123rd commencement Sunday at NYCB Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Number of graduates

1,397 bachelor’s, 1,189 master’s, 48 doctoral, 27 associate degrees and 124 certificates.

Honorary speakers

Patricia Schissel, an Adelphi alumna and director of the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association, spoke of her son, who was later diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, as the reason that motivated her to go back to school to become a social worker. “Don’t make assumptions about an individual on the autism spectrum. Get to know them. Find a common vocabulary. Give them time to respond,” she said, ending on a note to encourage graduates to trust their instincts. “Go with your gut and follow your heart.”

Kevin McKenzie, a leading dancer at the American Ballet Theatre who teaches at Adelphi, urged the graduates to go after their passion, not money. “I hope you feel empowered to go realize your gifts in service of something that moves you. Be authentic about it,” he said. “I have learned that every good, artistic decision is a lousy business plan. But I’ve also learned if your passion is rooted in an activity or a cause that allows fulfillment — so that you can be in service to something bigger than yourself — I can guarantee you that the money will follow.”

Student speakers

Ethan Bravin, 21, West Hartford, Connecticut, president of the graduating class, received a bachelor’s in nursing. “All our lives, many of us have been told what to do, who our friends were, what clubs to get involved in, who to hang out with, and who not to. Many of us, when we got to Adelphi, had the opportunity to explore past those bounds, but some of us haven’t. So here is my challenge to you: If you haven’t gotten to explore, and I mean truly explore, do it.”

Natalie Madray, 29, West Hempstead, received a master’s in public health. “This university helped build our strength and confidence to go further and not be limited by fear of failure ... Class of 2019, we made it! We owe it to ourselves to celebrate this moment and be proud. Reflect on your experiences during these past few years in the times to come to give you the courage to know what you are made of. The best is yet to come.”


Alan She, 26, Brooklyn, master's in social work

“For me, I just want to focus on the present because if I can’t get through the present, there’s not going to be a future,” said She, who works with seniors at a rehabilitation and nursing center in Brooklyn. “[The seniors] always tell me don’t focus on the future. When the future comes, that’s when you deal with it. But now just take in the moment and enjoy your life right now.”

Ernesto Marcano Jr., 22, upstate Montgomery, nursing

“Anxious. So anxious. ... Just a humbling and overwhelming feeling that we made it,” Marcano said of his feelings before the commencement ceremony. Marcano said he went into nursing because he saw how multiple sclerosis affected his father. “I just wanted to enter a field where I can help others.”

Antonios Papasevastos, 34, Kos, Greece, physical education

“Since my daughter is going to be here, I feel like it’s a perfect example for her in the future that, you know, anything can happen,” said Papasevastos. “When I first started going to school, I was so intimidated and scared. But I’m here, finally here. This is what I want to show to my daughter.”

Teresa Chery, 50, Westbury, master's in social work

“I feel awesome. I feel accomplished,” said Chery, who started her education part-time at Adelphi for an associate degree in 2008. “It’s been a long journey. I’m just happy," she said. "I’m overwhelmed." Chery is a chemical dependency counselor and said she pursued a master’s in social work because she saw the need. “I love working with people, and there’s a big need for people to care for other people.”

Justine DeLuca, 22, West Islip, master's in education

“I love children, and I love working with people. And I want to make a difference in the world,” DeLuca said. She will begin teaching as a part-time substitute teacher at Stratford Avenue Elementary School in Garden City this month. “We have so many people who are just willing to work together to make an impact not only to educate the students but to make them kind and genuine people.”

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