SUNY Old Westbury held its 52nd commencement Sunday at NYCB Live at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Number of graduates

1,178 undergraduate and 118 graduate degrees.

Commencement speaker

State Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie told graduates that “the job that you should have is just to make the world a little better place than when you came in. And I hope that you do it . . . Think it, believe it, and then do it.”



Oluwaseun Akanni, 21, history

“I can’t believe I finally made it,” said Akanni, of Elmont. “College is really what you make of it, and we really have to be resourceful with the opportunities around us.”

Elissa Wallen, 26, media and communications

“I feel really blessed,” said Wallen, of Medford. “Life can throw you anything, but if you’re prepared you should be OK.” She added, “Don’t ever doubt your skills.”

Sumit Shah, 22, biological sciences

“I’ve learned how to communicate with many people of different nationalities,” said Shah, of Amityville. “I’m more open to new ideas and accepting of others.”

Ishmael Moya, 22, biochemistry

“No one can take the steps for you,” said Moya, of the Bronx. “You’ve got to put in the work. What you put in is what you get out.”

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