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SCCC: 'We now have the tools to succeed'

From left, Dianna Acevedo Schmitt of Kings Park,

From left, Dianna Acevedo Schmitt of Kings Park, Lindsey Hernandez of Bay Shore, and Kayla Reynolds of Deer Park, during commencement Thursday at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Suffolk County Community College held its 57th commencement Thursday in two separate ceremonies at the Health, Sports and Education Center on the Michael J. Grant campus in Brentwood.

Number of graduates

4,090 total: 2,147 associate of arts degrees, 793 associate of applied science degrees, 1,049 associate of science degrees and 101 certificates.

Student speakers

Chioma Oghenekome, 20, a liberal arts general studies major originally from Nigeria and now living in Lindenhurst, has earned Dean’s List recognition every semester during the last two years. She was the student speaker representing the Michael J. Grant campus at the morning commencement. "Being on this stage is a dream that felt so out of reach when I first arrived at this college. And I woke up this morning and I realized that that dream is actually my reality," said Oghenekome, who is transferring to Adelphi University to pursue a nursing degree. "Suffolk's goal is to educate us inside and outside of the classroom … We now have the tools it takes to succeed in our lives."

Maria Andrade, 20, a business administration major from Medford, spoke at the morning commencement ceremony representing the Ammerman campus. "We are all different and we are all here for different reasons. But we all have the same goal in mind, to better ourselves," said Andrade, who transferred to Pace University on a New York State Presidential Transfer Scholarship this spring. "I leave all with one thing: Stand a little taller, smile a little wider and work a little harder — and that's when your light will shine."

Jerome Bost, 35, is a legislative aide in the Suffolk County Legislature and the student body representative on the college’s Board of Trustees. He will enter the public policy and political science program at St. John's University this fall. Bost, of Riverhead, represented the Eastern campus and spoke about overcoming adversity to become a college graduate. He recalled that when he was in elementary school, his mother was told that he would not go far with his education, but "my mother encouraged me to pursue my education," he said. "I discovered my own style of learning" and had help along the way. "I had the honor of being instructed by exceptional faculty who geniunely wanted to see students succeed."


Tammey  Forbes, 26, Wheatley Heights, criminal justice

Forbes, who originally is from Jamaica, said she is going to Farmingdale State College to pursue a degree in criminal justice and hopes to work in law enforcement. "It took awhile to get into college and actually finishing and moving to my next chapter is pretty awesome," she said. "I made some great friends. I met some nice people. Hopefully my next adventure is as awesome as this one." 

Jason Escobar, 20, North Babylon, liberal arts

Escobar is going on to Stony Brook University to pursue a degree in education to become an English as a Second Language teacher. "I feel like it's incredible. It's been a long time coming. I did it in the two years I was supposed to. This is one of those things where I am a first-year college student, so me making it is a start for my family."

Robyn Frank, 22, Central Islip, liberal arts

Frank is going to St. Joseph's College to become a teacher. "The professors here influenced me to become a teacher," she said. "It was hard. Everybody goes through their own struggles, but you got to fight — and when you fight, you get your degree." 

Amina Shehata, 23, Central Islip, liberal arts and general studies

Shehata said she hopes to go on to Farmingdale State College. "I'm very, very excited," she said. "It felt like it was never going to come, but it finally did. I'm thinking about transferring to Farmingdale and getting into their English program, because I want to be an English teacher."

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