Sreenath Mullassery of Stony Brook cheers during Stony Brook University's...

Sreenath Mullassery of Stony Brook cheers during Stony Brook University's 56th commencement on Friday, May 20, 2016, at the Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. Credit: Steve Pfost

Stony Brook University held its 56th commencement Friday at the school’s campus in Stony Brook.

Number of graduates

6,686: 3,948 bachelor’s, 1,919 master’s, 470 doctoral, 184 certificates, 125 MD and 40 DDS degrees

Commencement speakers

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder talked about the many challenges the nation faces, including terrorism, income inequality and political gridlock. “And so I call upon all who are here today to rededicate yourselves to the fight for the fairness and justice that should always be at the center of the American experience,” he said.

Broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien spoke about spending her childhood on the Stony Brook campus, where her father was a professor. She talked about her parents’ struggles as an interracial couple and said “America is better than that.”

“We all kind of want the same thing,” she said. “We’re much more alike than we are different. You need to break through walls between people who don’t look the same and don’t act the same.”

Student speaker

Danielle Meyers, a Class of 2016 social work major who was once in the foster care system, gave a spoken-word performance that reflected on her years at the university. “Your experience is the only professor that gives you the test before the lesson.”

Student reactions

LuoLuo Fang, 22, Asian-American studies

“I’m on the pre-dental track so I’m going to work for a bit and then apply to dental school. I’ve always wanted to be an oral surgeon,” said Fang, of Brooklyn. “I’ve been a patient myself for the last few years so I’ve seen both sides of it.”

Ajay Lakshminarayanarao, 25, master’s in computer science

“I’m really missing living with my friends here on campus,” said Lakshminarayanarao, of India, who has recently moved to start a job with a Bay Area software company. “I’m not going to get that back again anytime soon.”

Talia Abreu, 21, psychology

“I want to be a child-life specialist,” said Abreu, of the Bronx, who volunteered at the university medical center. “You work in hospitals and basically help children go through the procedures that they’re going through. Whether it is chemo, surgery or whatever, you work with them and help them cope through play. You’re also helping the parents and other family members, too.”

Grayson Manzi, 22, environmental humanities and anthropology

“I want to make sure I do something that makes me want to wake up in the morning,” said Manzi, of Staten Island. “Sustaining the environment, helping the future generations; it’s all good stuff.

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