June 4, 2021
Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) celebrated its 56th graduating class on June 4, a livestreamed event that was the college’s second virtual commencement and honored graduates from the classes of Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021 and Spring 2021.
The commencement opened with a performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by faculty and students from the BMCC Music and Art Department. BMCC President Anthony E. Munroe welcomed the audience of graduates, family and friends.
“I know today’s virtual ceremony is not ideal, but things are looking up,” said President Munroe. “We have vaccines and we are seeing mask restrictions being lifted. All signs point toward a brighter future for all of us.”
President Munroe also acknowledged that this graduating class has witnessed historic cultural events including a rise in racial injustice and hate crimes.
“In response, you joined the chorus of collective voices calling for social justice and equality,” said President Munroe. “You were also instrumental in the election of our country’s new president and the first woman of color vice president. You are the generation that can make an impact and BMCC has prepared you to take the next step … You leave BMCC as educated individuals with an opportunity to build a better life for yourselves, your families and your communities. Today is the beginning of the next chapter in your lives. Turn the page and let the adventure begin!”
CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez gave his congratulations “to a very special graduating class, the resilient and persevering and magnificent BMCC Class of 2021 … I hope you’re able to look back and feel an incredible sense of pride as well as a degree of optimism for the way you responded and helped your community heal.”
BMCC Vice President for Student Affairs Marva Craig picked up the thread of optimism in her remarks.
“We are celebrating that you are now a graduate of Borough of Manhattan Community College and you are ready to embrace progress and possibilities and traverse these new frontiers, not only as BMCC graduates but as the best of who we have become as a nation,” VP Craig told the graduates.
Student Government President Josiah Ramesar described the honor it has been to him, to serve as SGA president. He also acknowledged struggles faced by his class.
“Many of us already had jobs, families to take care of, bills to pay — and on top of that, we had to deal with one of the deadliest pandemics that we have seen in over a century plague our nation,” said SGA President Ramesar. “We are now at a time when vaccines are readily available, and it looks like our country and state is close to making a full recovery.”
BMCC Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Erwin Wong told the graduating class they have achieved a great honor, “through perseverance, great fortitude and strength. You’ve survived the pandemic, political unrest, issues of social justice — and most importantly, you’ve maintained your integrity and academic achievement while doing things through remote instruction.”
Valedictorian Fernanda Carvalho Santos, who earned an Associate of Science (A.S.) in Art Foundations: Studio Art with a concentration in Photography at BMCC in Fall 2020 and is now enrolled in a Bachelor of Fine Arts program at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago told the 2021 graduates, “I’m immensely proud of your determination to complete this journey, not an easy one. Your hard work has not gone unnoticed … I can say with confidence that one day you will reap the fruits of your determination. We believe in you.”
BMCC alumna Sandra Leisa Lindsay (Nursing, ’94) was recorded earlier in the week at the Nursing Pinning Ceremony — where she was presented with the President’s Medal by BMCC President Munroe — and her comments were included in the 56th Commencement program.
“I started here and went everywhere that I could,” said Lindsay, referring to BMCC’s Start Here Go Anywhere slogan. “I am back and proud to be back … I wish you all success, good health and well-being, in everything that you do. Thank you for inviting me to celebrate this remarkable milestone with you today.”
U.S. Senator Charles (Chuck) Schumer, a long-time special guest at BMCC Commencements, led a virtual round of applause to the graduates’ parents and families, then addressed the graduates themselves.
“With Covid affecting our health, our nation’s economy and your senior year, these have been unusual and difficult times,” said Senator Schumer. “The challenged of these moments are truly unique but so has been our collective response — we’re still celebrating this graduation and not letting Covid stand in the way.”
Also, he said, “We’re beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to safe and highly effective vaccines. I’m proud to have helped lead the way in Congress by prioritizing vaccine research production and most of all distribution, so that everyone who wants a vaccine can now get one.”
U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries congratulated the Class of 2021 on their “tremendous accomplishment.”
“You’ve navigated your way through the trials and tribulations of a tough moment for all of us in this country, in order to reach this point and graduate from the Borough of Manhattan Community College,” Representative Jeffries told the graduates. “What you’ve shown is that you were able to pick yourself up from the perils of the pandemic and keep moving forward, work incredibly hard, finish the race and now graduate from BMCC as part of the fabulous Class of 2021. The best for you, I’m confident, is yet to come.”
Once the speaking program concluded, more than 4,600 graduates’ names scrolled across the screen.
A recorded version of the BMCC 56th Commencement and Celebration of the Class of 2021 is available online. For a copy of the 56th Commencement program, click here. To join the BMCC Alumni Association, click here.
- Class of 2021 virtual celebration honors over 4,600 graduates from Summer 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021 and Spring 2021
- Fernanda Carvalho Santos (Art Foundations: Studio Art, ‘20) is Valedictorian; SGA President Josiah Ramesar is Dean’s Award recipient
- Event is second virtual of 56 BMCC commencements, and features guest speakers CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, BMCC President Medal Honoree Sandra Lindsay, Senator Charles (Chuck) Schumer, U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries and others