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Two First-Generation Immigrants Named Valedictorians at BMCC

May 14, 2018

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) selected valedictorians for the college’s two 2018 commencement ceremonies set for June 1 at The Theatre in Madison Square Garden where more than 3,800 new Associate Degrees will be conferred.

Accounting major Goumattie Sukraj from Richmond Hills, Queens will speak during the morning ceremony at 11 a.m. and Economics major Aleksandra Artyfikiewicz is scheduled to speak during the afternoon ceremony that begins at 3:30 p.m. Both Sukraj and Artyfikiewicz maintained 4.0 Grade Point Averages at BMCC, and are members of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.

The selection of valedictorians is always a difficult process since all the candidates are extraordinary, according to Erwin Wong, Dean of Academic Affairs at BMCC.

“We ultimately selected Goumattie and Aleksandra because they represent what is the best about all of our students. They are passionate about learning; they are motivated to succeed; they are articulate and bright. Moreover, they are empathetic; they care about others and want to help others both inside and outside the classroom,” said Wong. “What they have accomplished resonates with all of our graduates: They all struggle, endure and succeed.”

Goumattie Sukraj, future Certified Public Account
Goumattie Sukraj

Goumattie Sukraj was five years old when she arrived in New York City from Guyana in 2005. Raised in South Richmond Hill, Queens, Sukraj attended Richmond Hill High School, where she graduated in 2016. While at BMCC she has served as a Supplemental Instructor Leader for English composition classes, consistently earned a place on the Dean’s List and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She has also volunteered at her high school during her time at BMCC, tutoring students in English.

Sukraj plans to pursue her Bachelor’s degree at Baruch College, CUNY and eventually take the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam and start a career with a top accounting firm. “I want to develop my career mindset and gain the work experience and skills to open my own accounting firm some day,” she said.

Sukraj said she was deeply honored when she received the phone call from Dean Erwin Wong informing her that she had been selected as a valedictorian.

“I felt accomplished, knowing all the hard work and effort I’ve put into the last two years has finally paid off in this chapter of my life,” said Sukraj.

Aleksandra Artyfikiewicz, future financial analyst
Aleksandra Artyfikiewicz

Aleksandra Artyfikiewicz arrived in Ridgewood, Queens in 2015 from the small town of Maków Mazowiecki, Poland when she was 18 years—two years after her family won the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery. Her family has since relocated to Maspeth, Queens.

While at BMCC, Artyfikiewicz immersed herself in extracurricular activities. She served as Chairperson of the International Students Committee, a student senator in the BMCC Student Government, and Secretary of the Economics Equality and Environment Club. She also worked as a Peer Mentor in the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) and the CUNY Research Scholars Program (CRSP). She also held down a part time job in a restaurant.

“My biggest passions are traveling and photography. Last year, I went on a Study Abroad trip to China with BMCC,” said Artyfikiewicz.

Artyfikiewicz has not decided which four-year college she is going to transfer to, but her plan is to get her Bachelor’s degree in Economics. After that, she plans to take a break from school and work for a few years gaining professional experience in preparation for her next step—earning a Masters degree in Business Administration.

“Eventually, I see myself doing financial analysis, international trade or working for international organizations like the World Bank,” said Artyfikiewicz.

Artyfikiewicz was thrilled when she got the call letting her know she had been chosen as a valedictorian. At her high school in Poland, there was no such thing as valedictorians, so to even be given a chance to apply for the honor was exciting, she says.

“I got the call from Dean Wong as I was riding in a car with my Dad, so I got to share the excitement of the moment with him,” Artyfikiewicz said. “We were both filled with joy.”

Other highlights

The 53rd commencement ceremonies will also feature speeches from Presidential Medalists Tim Tynan and Steven Fiterman, both who are board members at the BMCC Foundation.

Also this year, alumni who are reaching the 50-year anniversary of their graduation from BMCC will be participating in the 53rd Commencement. These graduates from the 1960s will walk in the afternoon procession and sit on the dais during the ceremony. 

Further information is available at the BMCC Commencement webpage.

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Accounting Major Goumattie Sukraj of Richmond Hills, Queens will speak at morning ceremony
  • Economics major Aleksandra Artyfikiewicz of Maspeth, Queens speaks at afternoon ceremony
  • Valedictorians epitomize student success and diversity

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