CUNY’s CSI Graduates Most Diverse Class In Its History, Reminded Them That They Face A Unique Moment In History – Don’t Shy Away From It



Editor’s note: In related news, the Staten Islander News covered a scholarship program funded by ACS to help students committed to a social work career go to college for free.  And Hackettstown Centenary University awarded degrees to ten New York students at their graduation last year. Readers can also learn more about Rear Admiral Zeita Merchant, who was awarded an honorary degree at the ceremony. 

Despite a heavy thunderstorm that delayed the ceremony, spirits weren’t dampened among the graduating Class of 2024 and their mentors, families, and friends as they all gathered on the Great Lawn of the College of Staten Island for the institution’s 75th Commencement. This year, a total of 2,060 students received diplomas as they embarked on the next steps of their lives.

After introductory remarks from CSI Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Steiper, CSI President Timothy G. Lynch addressed the graduates.

After noting that the Class of 2024 is the one of the most diverse CSI graduating class in history, he put their academic success into clear focus, “Earning a college degree is a significant accomplishment, and your degree carries immense power. You are prepared for the next chapter in your life with the strength and support of your institution firmly behind you. You have been taught by our world-class, award-winning faculty in nationally recognized academic programs, where you engaged in integrative experiences and workplace training. You are armed with the tools you need to succeed in life.  And you are ready! You are the future, and we are proud to have been part of your journey.”

Following remarks from CUNY Trustee Michael Arvanites, Associate Professor of Media Culture Reece Peck, who spoke on behalf of the faculty, advised the students, “do not shy away from the serious issues of your time. In this historical moment, there is no shortage of them to say the least. I study politics. I know how depressing, maddening, and cruel it can be, but staying engaged in the civic life of this country will ultimately add meaning to your personal life. Don’t be apathetic to the bigger world around you.”

This year’s valedictorian, Laura Kaplan, who is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Mathematics, spoke on behalf of the Class of 2024. In her remarks, she focused on the important role of difficulties on the road to personal advancement.

“My message to you today is that growth does not happen without discomfort…My advice to you today is to find that feeling, and spend as much time with it as you can. Learning is an innately vulnerable experience. And during the process of learning, you will be continuously exposed to your current limitations and the gaps in your knowledge. This is unnegotiable. Our teachers and mentors make sure of it. But academically, and in all other things, the discomfort you experience is fundamentally linked to your progress.” Kaplan then listed not only the discomfort that she faced and overcame, but that of her fellow classmates as well, primarily earning a degree partially during the pandemic.

Also during the ceremony, the College bestowed an honorary degree on Rear Admiral Zeita Merchant of the United States Coast Guard, the first African American woman to achieve the rank of admiral in the 233-year history of the Coast Guard. And graduates and attendees also heard from New York City Comptroller Brad Lander.

Departmental Commencement exercises followed the main ceremony at various locations across campus.

Check out the full gallery here

Banner Image: Group of CSI graduating students. Image Credit – CSI


David Pizzuto College of Staten Island

The College of Staten Island is a four-year, senior college of The City University of New York providing exceptional opportunities to all of its students and offering undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as certificate and continuing education programs. CSI is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. CSI’s academic year follows a two-semester pattern, with a separate summer and winter session. Classes are scheduled days, evenings, and weekends. The College has an extensive Continuing Education program and offers off-campus courses with and without credit.

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