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Nassau Community College 2016 commencement

Melissa Contino, 20, from East Meadow, gets a

Melissa Contino, 20, from East Meadow, gets a hug from her mom, Joan, before the start of the Nassau Community College 56th Annual Commencement ceremony in Garden City on Sunday, May 22, 2016. Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

Nassau Community College held its 56th commencement Sunday at its Garden City campus.

Number of graduates

Total: 3,866 associate degrees and certificates

Commencement speaker

Thomas P. Dolan, interim president of the college, said, “Questions, not just answers, are the way that we learn. The fact is, the questions are often as important as the answers.”

Student speaker

Jillian Pallone, Class of 2016 valedictorian, noted the college’s diversity and its impact on learning. “Some of us in this audience had the privilege to be the first college graduates of many generations in their families — an accomplishment that will stay within the roots of your lineage for ages.”

Student reaction

Mara Pincus, 20, liberal arts

“I didn’t even think I would graduate high school and now I’m getting a college degree,” said Pincus of East Meadow. She will go to SUNY New Paltz in the fall and hopes to become a social worker.

Garcelin Elisias, 20, business administration

“I’m going to Drexel University. I want to have a business career, gain experience and learn then open my own business,” said Elisias of Valley Stream.

Jessica Frangella, 36, liberal arts

“I was working 48 hours a week and taking five subjects, so it was hard, but I found that if you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything,” said Frangella of Oyster Bay. Frangella emigrated from El Salvador and is a mother with another child due in September. She graduated with honors.

Rabbi Arthur Schwartz, 69, mortuary science

“This isn’t so much a second career as it is an expansion of my current career to continue to serve the Jewish community,” said Schwartz of Huntington.

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