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SUNY Old Westbury holds 51st commencement ceremony

A graduating student wears her customized mortarboard during

A graduating student wears her customized mortarboard during the 51st commencement ceremony at SUNY Old Westbury on Sunday, May 21, 2017. Credit: Steven Sunshine

SUNY Old Westbury held its 51st commencement Sunday on the campus.

Number of graduates

1,051 bachelor’s degrees and 72 graduate degrees.

Commencement speaker

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James urged graduates to “rise and resist” against those who have “resorted to exploiting our collective fear and economic anxiety to turn Americans against the most marginalized and vulnerable....Be bold enough to use your voices to drown out the surge of divisive rhetoric; be brave enough to listen to your hearts and lift those fleeing oppression and poverty and seeking freedom and opportunity.”

Student speaker

Student Government Association president Jeannette Adelson, 21, a sociology major from Queens, told graduates that in a time of “fake news, alternative facts and divisiveness...we will not be tricked or deceived because our faculty have taught us how to analyze and see different perspectives. You are part of the generation that must bridge the gap and make the change that represents what we stand for — diversity, social justice and leadership.”

President’s remarks

The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III told graduates “it is up to each of you from this moment forward to go out and put your talents and learning into practice, improving life for yourselves, your families, your friends and your communities as you do.”


Adelyn Martinez, 21, accounting

“The biggest thing I like [about SUNY Old Westbury] is the diversity,” said Martinez, of Islip. “We have a whole bunch of different ethnicities. Everybody identifies differently, but we all come together and do what we have to do to achieve our goals.”

Ginger Garcia-Torres, 30, special education

“I have struggled through school, and I had teachers who made it easier for me,” said Garcia-Torres, of Westbury, who plans to teach bilingual special education. “I want to be one of those teachers to make it easier for my students.”

Sara Bey, 21, mathematics and chemistry

“I would love to get a PhD in actuarial sciences so I can become an actuary or teach a college class in anything math,” said Bey, of Merrick. “I’ve always been a numbers person. I love math.”

Strawberry Flowers, 28, media and communications

“I’ve met wonderful professors that I plan to keep in touch with, said Flowers, of Brooklyn. “A lot of them saw the potential in me and pushed me. They pulled the A’s out of me, instead of the B’s I was producing at first.”

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