Graduates react to their school being recognized during commencement at...

Graduates react to their school being recognized during commencement at Stony Brook University on Friday, May 18, 2018. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Stony Brook University held its 58th commencement Friday in Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

Number of graduates

4,530 bachelor’s, 2,035 master’s, 620 doctoral and professional degrees, 265 certificates.

Commencement speaker

Tracy K. Smith, 22nd poet laureate to the Library of Congress, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Smith told the graduates to “love language the way a poet loves language.” “If you do not, if you don’t hold your thoughts and your words to a standard of clarity, intelligence and integrity, and if you don’t hold the language that enters your ears, and mind, and your imagination to such a standard, whole regions of your inner life will fall into dormancy,” Smith said. Her advice is to make trouble, make change. “No matter what else you are, be a poet, pushing your words and your thoughts, your wishes and your dreams, to a place where troubling is possible,” she said.

Student speaker

Eshani Goradia, of Princeton, New Jersey, a multidisciplinary major with concentrations in biology, chemistry, and Asian American studies, said: “For many of us, Stony Brook is our first love. Even if we go on to different places, the friends we’ve made, the memories we’ve shared, the tears we’ve cried, and the prices we’ve paid, will never be forgotten. We may fall in love again, but our first taught us lessons. It made us better. It helped us discover who we truly are — the ultimate goal of any educational institute.”


Shayla Nickles, 22, biology

“It’s nice taking the next step and being able to move forward, but I’m of course a little nervous — end of an era,” said Nickels, of Coram. She said she’ll most remember being a member of the Spirit of Stony Brook Marching Band color guard. “It’s where I got all my friends, I got all my leadership skills, I gained a lot of experience in my networking,” she said.

Monica Rahman, 21, health sciences

“I’ve been on this campus as a kid, so just growing up and deciding to come here as a student and graduating, it means a lot,” said Rahman, of Stony Brook. “There is a lot to take away from your experience here and there’s a lot to learn and grow. And there’s always room for growing and reaching new heights.”

Elaina Prossimo, 24, business management

“It’s going to be great, actually being done and not having to go back to school for at least a little bit,” said Prossimo, of Farmingdale, who eventually plans to get a master’s degree. “I’ve made a lot of good friends at this school, and I also enjoyed the professors a lot.”

Andrew Seaman, 21, atmospheric science

“Being a very small program of only about seven graduating seniors, you get really close with the students, but most importantly, you get really close with the professors as well,” said Seaman, of Staten Island. His advice for his classmates going forward: “Just have fun. Don’t take life too seriously. We’ll all get jobs. Everything will work out in the end.”

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