New York College of Health Professions held its 23rd commencement...

New York College of Health Professions held its 23rd commencement at the Melville Marriott hotel on Sunday. Graduate Molly Peck, 25, of West Babylon, shows off her mortarboard message. Credit: John Roca

New York College of Health Professions held its 23rd commencement Sunday at the Melville Marriott hotel.

Number of graduates

172 total, with 143 associate degrees and 29 bachelor’s/master’s joint degrees

Commencement speaker

King V. Cheek Jr., chairman of the college’s board of trustees and a participant in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, spoke of how massage therapists, acupuncturists and practioners of oriental medicine treat a patient’s soul as well as the body. He urged graduates to pursue research “to help validate the ethicacy of the healing practices in which you engage.”

Student speakers

Jennifer Schneider, 47, of Irvington in Westchester County, who received a bachelor’s of professional studies/master’s of science degree in acupuncture, said graduates should follow ikigai, the Japanese word for life and worthwhile being. “It is comprised of an overlap of doing what we are good at, what we have passion for . . . what the world needs . . . and what you can get paid for as your profession.”

Maurice Vallejo Jr., 26, of Queens, graduated with an associate degree in massage therapy. “We are all healers and destined to possibly change the world, or at least one person’s life, one treatment at a time,” he said.

— James T. Madore


Molly S. Peck, 25, massage therapy

“I’ve always wanted to be in the health field, to help others,” said Peck, of West Babylon.

Kayon S. Pinnock, 41, massage therapy

“I was a massage therapist in Jamaica before moving to the United States in 2010,” said Pinnock, of Great Neck. “This is what I have a passion for.”

Marina N. Cortese, 25, acupuncture

“The body can heal itself if you treat the root of the problem and not just the symptoms,” said Cortese, of Dix Hills, who plans to pursue a doctoral degree.

Binghang Zhao, 48, massage therapy

Zhao was a physician in China before immigrating to the United States. “I plan to pursue a degree in acupuncture,” the Brooklyn resident said. “I want to help people feel better.”

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