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Dowling College 2016 commencement

A cap stands out among the graduates attending

A cap stands out among the graduates attending the Dowling College Graduation at the Brookhaven Campus, May 21, 2016. Credit: Veronique Louis

Dowling College held its 54th commencement Saturday at the school’s Brookhaven campus in Shirley.

Number of graduates

534: 248 bachelor’s degrees, 254 master’s and advanced certificates, 32 doctoral degrees

Commencement speaker

Clyde I. Payne, who has served in administrative positions at Dowling since early 2000, was awarded an honorary degree. He spoke about graduates’ need to know themselves, make a difference in their communities, stay focused and keep the faith as they continue their journey. “Commencement indicates a beginning, and you as graduates thought you were finished, but you really are not. Today is the first day of the remainder of your life,” Payne said. He also reminded them to remain ethical, and to learn from failures. “Don’t be afraid to fail, but use your failures as springboards to success. As Jerry Zucker, the film director, writer and producer states, ‘Nobody else is paying as much attention to your failures as you are.’”

Student speakers

Valedictorian Angel M. Ramirez quoted poet and children’s book author Shel Silverstein in a speech that reminisced on the bittersweet closing of one chapter in graduates’ lives as they prepared to turn their tassels, and the exciting start of another.

“This is true, there are no happy endings. What makes an ending feel happy is the potential that it holds as a new start,” Ramirez said. “This day, being an end as well as a new beginning, can be both happy and sad. And as we move on from here, we can all try to make every moment in our lives parts of a story that is complex with endings and beginnings overlapping with potential.”

Student reactions

Zachary Sinclair, 21, arts and science

Sinclair graduated with a bachelor’s degree in arts and science, and said now he wants to go to graduate school to learn mobile game design in the hopes of becoming a video game designer. Of commencement, the Brooklyn resident said he’s glad “it’s finally here, after all.”

Rebecca Olson, 22, visual arts

Olson, of West Islip, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in visual arts and a minor in psychology, and she said she wants to go to LIU Post for a master’s degree in art therapy. “I’ve known I wanted to do something art-related ever since I was a little kid,” Olson said.

Amie Velez, 40, business

Velez, of Smithtown, who has a 17-year-old son, said she has been attending Dowling part time and online since 2008 and is thrilled to finally have her bachelor’s degree. “I’m very happy to be done. I’m just relieved ... and now I’m ready to pursue more opportunities now and close the book on this.”

Anthony Ferrante, 24, communications

“I would love to work in film, that’s the dream,” said Ferrante, of Holtsville. Another dream job, he said, would be to work for ESPN, and to that end he’s considering pursuing a master’s in journalism.

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