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Farmingdale State College graduates 1,529

Graduates during commencement rehearsal in Nold Hall at

Graduates during commencement rehearsal in Nold Hall at Farmingdale State College on Saturday, May 17, 2014. Credit: Steven Sunshine

Number of graduates

1,529; 1,300 bachelor's degrees; 217 associate degrees, 12 certificates

Keynote speaker

Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest, a Long Island hunger relief organization, told graduates to become passionate about a cause. "Don't be afraid of change, of falling or failing, or even taking a few bad steps. Just make sure you keep moving forward as you hit these bumps in the road," she said.

Guest speaker

Sen. Charles Schumer told graduates to "go for it. . . . sometimes you'll make the wrong choice but if my experience is any indication, you'll pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward. But if you make the right choice, with a lot of hard work, a little luck, some prayer, your life will be enriched forever."

Student speaker

Class of 2014 valedictorian Lauren Bellissimo, 22, of Miller Place; bachelor's in applied psychology.

"The most influential and useful advice I've been given may be simple in words but profound in thought," she said. ". . . In life, all you really have to do is show up, do your best and have confidence in yourself."

Drew Griffiths, 27, bachelor's in aviation administration

"It's kind of surreal. It really hasn't hit me. . . . It's something I've been wanting to do, and I'm finally doing it," he said. Griffiths, of Modena, New York, is an Air National Guard veteran and licensed pilot. He plans to apply to become an Air Force pilot.

Nasir Francis, 22, bachelor's in aviation administration

"To graduate college in 3½ years, I feel is a major accomplishment . . . ," he said, crediting his mother and family "who supported me, who invested in me." The Bronx resident plans to apply for a job in airport management and start a mobile personal training business.

Karema Nugent 29, bachelor's in science, technology and society

"It's been a long journey for me. I'm 29 years old and I'm just now getting my bachelor's. . . . I feel like I'm accomplishing something big," the Amityville native said. She spent two years at York College in Queens and left to work full time. She plans to seek a master's in marriage and family therapy at Hofstra University.

Gurbir Singh, 22, bachelor's in bioscience

"I made it this far; it's just the start for me," said Singh, of Valley Stream, who plans to apply to medical school. "It's been amazing. . . . There's been some sleepless nights . . . but that's what you have to do. You have to put in the effort."

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