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NYIT grads mark ceremony with marriage proposals

Christopher Nuñez, 22, an undergraduate majoring in mechanical

Christopher Nuñez, 22, an undergraduate majoring in mechanical engineering, proposed to his girlfriend Jessica McCarthy, 26, after walking across the stage at New York Institute of Technology's graduation ceremony Sunday May 22, 2016. Christopher is in his cap and gown. His fiance is next to him with white shirt. Family and friends held the signs. Credit: Nicole Klein

Two NYIT grads had something else to celebrate Sunday in addition to earning their diplomas.

Christopher Nuñez, who graduated Sunday at the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, proposed to his girlfriend in the college parking lot.

Hao Ding, a 2014 NYIT graduate, took the occasion to propose to his girlfriend, who graduated Sunday, on the stage where the ceremony took place.

Both women said yes.

“I knew I wanted to wait until after I graduated to ask her and that I wanted to make it something big,” said Nuñez, 22, of Brewster, who graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. “I wanted to show my affection for her in front of everyone.”

After walking across the stage to receive his diploma, Nuñez beat a hasty retreat to the parking lot, where his friends and family were assembled, holding big posters that spelled out, “Will you marry me?” The recent graduate waited nervously behind them as Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” played over the stereo — a tune the couple had joked would someday be their wedding song.

Jessica McCarthy, 26, of Fairfield, Connecticut, said she fought back tears when she spotted Nuñ ez, still in his cap and gown, propped on one knee.

“I was completely surprised,” McCarthy said. “I’m really happy he did it this way. It was great to have all my friends and family here.”

Nuñ ez said: “It’s a great beginning for us, to graduate and hopefully find a new full-time job and also to propose to the love of my life.” The graduate who currently works as an HVAC installer, and is hoping to begin a career in engineering, said, “It was a life-changing day for me.”

Ding, 26, popped the question onstage minutes after his longtime girlfriend, Congyun Li, 24, of Lindenhurst, received her diploma for a master’s degree in human resources and labor relations.

Ding, an IT specialist at a Manhattan company, approached Li with a bouquet in one hand and a microphone in another in front of a crowd that cheered him on. After handing the flowers to Li and asking the crowd to quiet down, Ding dropped to one knee, raised a ring held in a bright red box and asked her to marry him.

Li grabbed the microphone and excitedly agreed.

With Deon J. Hampton

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