Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) conferred Associate degrees to more than 3,800 graduates during morning and afternoon Commencement ceremonies at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza in Manhattan, on June 2, 2017.
The morning ceremony began at 11 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 2017 BMCC valedictorians: Computer Science major Olasubomi Ayomide Efuniyi and Psychology major Paulina Malinowska.
BMCC offers Associate degree programs in more than 45 disciplines, ranging from engineering to art history to computer science. Crossing the stage at this commencement were a number of students who were the first to graduate from one of BMCC’s new degree programs.
These included Sociology graduates Lissette Maliza, Degdra Perez, Tercara Pogue, Hope Vaughn, Lilibeth Beltre, Lizanne Chaparro and Thalia Cipriano; Psychology graduates Charles Gyamfi, Claudia Chan, Elianne Decimus, Perla Hernandez, Paulina Malinowska, Brenda Martinez, Joshua Pestano, Florencia Skorput Lazur and Daisy Crispin, and Gerontology graduate Franiana Sanchez.
The morning Commencement Valedictorian, Olasubomi Ayomide Efuniyi, was born in Brooklyn but raised in Laogos, Nigeria by his grandmother. At age 16, he returned to the United States and enrolled at BMCC. He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the BMCC Debate Team and Student Government Assocation, as well as a research assistant under the New York City Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology (NYC-LSAMP) program. Efuniyi is a graduate of the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP).
Sworn into office on January 3, 2017, Congressman Espaillat was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan. The first Dominican-American to serve in the U.S. Congress, he is a member of the influential U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the House Select Committee on Small Business. He is also a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and was appointed Chairman of the CHC Task Force for Transportation, Infrastructure and Housing.
Congressman Espaillat is a steadfast champion for working- and middle-class New Yorkers, and has advocated for a fair living wage, affordable housing, criminal justice reform, youth programs and educational opportunity. Prior to coming to Congress, he served as a New York State Senator representing the Manhattan neighborhoods of Marble Hill, Inwood, Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, West Harlem, the Upper West Side, Hell's Kitchen, Clinton and Chelsea.
Espaillat became the first Dominican-American elected to a state legislature, and served in the New York State Assembly. In 2002, he was elected Chair of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. Before entering elected office, he served as Coordinator of Manhattan Court Services for the NYC Criminal Justice Agency, Director of the Washington Heights Victims Services Community Office, and Director of Project Right Start.
The afternoon Commencement Valedictorian, Paulina Malinowska, was born in Poland and immigrated to the United States at age 12. After a number of years working as a professional dancer, Malinowska enrolled at BMCC. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, secretary of the BMCC Psychology Club, a research member of the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program and an Out-in-Two Scholar. She has also volunteered for various charity events.
Jane Rosenthal co-founded the Tribeca Film Festival and Tribeca Film Institute in 2002 with Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff, in a response to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the impact of those events on the economy and vibrancy of Tribeca and lower Manhattan. In 2008, Ms. Rosenthal and her co-founders received the inaugural "Notes of Hope Award" for Distinction in Rebuilding, from the September 11 National Museum and Memorial Foundation.
Earlier in her career, Ms. Rosenthal served as an Executive at CBS-TV and The Walt Disney Company, and has distinguished herself as a leading film producer of critically acclaimed and commercially successful films including "Wag the Dog," "A Bronx Tale," "Marvin’s Room," "Analyze This," "Meet the Fockers," "Rent," "Meet the Parents" and "About a Boy."