BMCC Hosts 51st Commencement with Largest Graduating Class in the College’s History

May 18, 2016

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) conferred more than 4,200 associate degrees during morning and afternoon Commencement ceremonies at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, on June 3, 2016. This was the largest graduating class in the college’s history.

The morning ceremony began at 11:00 a.m. and the afternoon ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Each ceremony featured remarks by members of BMCC’s administration and speeches by the 2016 BMCC valedictorians Alex Guarino and Teri Talbot.

BMCC offers associate degree programs in more than 30 disciplines, ranging from engineering to theatre and from computer science to criminal justice. This year’s graduates include Nathanael Alexander, first Art Foundations graduate; Alexander Grinberg, first History graduate; and Nicole Lesko, first Animation and Motion Graphics graduate.


The morning Commencement Valedictorian was Alex Guarino, a Business Administration major with a cumulative GPA of 4.0. Alex was born and raised in a small Italian village. He moved to Australia, where he worked in hospitality, and then to New York, where he worked as an au-pair before attending BMCC. Alex spent a semester studying abroad in China, and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. He was President of the Out-in-Two Scholarship Club and served as a BMCC tutor, speaker at the Au-Pair Fair and at the International Student Fair. He has also volunteered with Meals on Wheels, read English books to children, coached soccer to a group of 19 children, and started an online page to help Italians find jobs and accommodations; today there are 3,100 people on his webpage. He plans to attend Columbia University in tFall 2016, where he will pursue a major in economics and a minor in Asian studies.

BMCC President Antonio Pérez presented the 2016 BMCC Presidential Medal to Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. during the morning ceremony. Dina Powell, head of Goldman Sachs’ Impact Investing business and President of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, accepted the medal.

Lloyd Blankfein is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. He joined the J. Aron Currency and Commodities Division of Goldman Sachs in 1982. Lloyd was named partner in 1988, co-head of the J. Aron Division in 1994 and co-head of the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Division as of its formation in 1997. He served as the firm’s president and chief operating officer from December 2003 through June 2006 prior to assuming his current position. FULL BIO.

Dina Powell leads Goldman Sachs’ Impact Investing business and the Environmental Markets Group, which creates market-based opportunities and solutions to drive sustainable economic development and environmental progress. She is also president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation overseeing the firm’s strategic programs to drive economic growth and opportunity. Dina joined Goldman Sachs as a managing director in 2007, was named partner in 2010 and serves as a member of the Partnership Committee. FULL BIO.

About Goldman Sachs: The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm that provides a wide range of financial services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes corporations, financial institutions, governments and high-net-worth individuals. Founded in 1869, the firm is headquartered in New York and maintains offices in all major financial centers around the world.

About Goldman Sachs Gives: Goldman Sachs Gives is committed to fostering innovative ideas, solving economic and social issues, and enabling progress in underserved communities globally.  Since 2010, Goldman Sachs Gives has supported need-based scholarships at more than 200 colleges and universities globally and is one of the largest private supporters of such aid in higher education.


The afternoon Commencement Valedictorian was Teri Talbot, a Liberal Arts major with a cumulative GPA of 4.0. Teri was born and raised in Los Angeles but was unable to complete her high school degree. Years later, she moved to New York and earned her high school equivalency diploma, then entered BMCC to earn her associate degree. At the Freshman Year Experience Workshop, she was motivated by Vice President Marva Craig’s inspiring words, telling students to work hard and do their best because they have the potential to succeed. Teri took those words to heart and excelled academically at BMCC while also starting a family. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and volunteers at Universal Bookstore in Brooklyn. In addition, she proofreads translations for people in her community, where English is their second language. She plans to attend Columbia University in Fall 2016, and eventually pursue a law degree.

During the afternoon Commencement, President Pérez presented the Presidential Medal to American Express and Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, American Express Company. Richard Brown, Vice President of Philanthropy, American Express Company accepted the medal on the company’s behalf.

Richard Brown oversees the company’s global giving programs under the company’s historic preservation and leadership giving themes, which includes the National Treasurers program with National Trust for Historic Preservation and the World Monument Fund’s Watch, as well as the American Express Leadership Academy. Additionally, Mr. Brown was a key presenter of the first-ever White House Forum on Nonprofit Leadership and plays a lead role with the Presidio Institute in the development of an on-line leadership development portal for nonprofit leaders. FULL BIO.

About American Express: American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at and connect with us on,,, and

Key links to products, services and corporate responsibility information: charge and credit cardsbusiness credit cardsPlenti rewards programtravel servicesgift cards,prepaid cardsmerchant servicescorporate cardbusiness travel and corporate responsibility.

About American Express: Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow: One of American Express’ three philanthropic platforms is Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow. Under this giving initiative, which recognizes the significance of strong leadership in the nonprofit and social purpose sectors, American Express makes grants focused on training high potential emerging leaders to tackle important issues in the 21st century. More than 16,000 emerging nonprofit and social sector leaders worldwide have benefitted from American Express leadership programs, including the American Express Leadership Academy among others. Launched in 2008, the American Express Leadership Academy addresses the growing deficit of leadership talent in the nonprofit sector by bringing together emerging leaders from a diverse set of nonprofit, social sector and non-governmental organizations. For leadership journey stories and additional resources, visit

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  • Presidential Medalists were Lloyd Blankfein in the morning and American Express in the afternoon
  • Valedictorians were Alex Guarino in the morning and Teri Talbot in the afternoon
  • Event took place at The Theatre in Madison Square Garden

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