After days of rain and then extreme heat, a beautiful blue sky and cooler temperatures greeted the 2,527 graduates and their family members, as well as faculty and staff, at the 36th Annual Commencement at the College of Staten Island.
In his remarks, President Tomás D. Morales, after noting that this will be his last CSI Commencement, as he has accepted the President’s position at California State University, San Bernadino, highlighted the many recent accomplishments at the College.
Crediting the entire College community for these achievements, he noted that enrollment is growing and the College is attracting quality students, CSI’s exemplary academic programs are constantly improving, and the campus is undergoing a transformation with the addition of new residence halls and a new Interdisciplinary High-Performance Computing Center.
He also mentioned that the strides that the College has made have received strong positive validation during the recent Middle States Commission on Higher Education review.
After assuring the audience that the College will continue on its successful path to success and growth under the new Strategic Plan, he offered the graduates some advice, urging them to give back, but also to make time for themselves and their families. Dr. Morales closed “by reiterating a core belief that I expressed upon my arrival and which has guided my leadership these past five years. The College of Staten Island– it’s about the students, it’s about you. Celebrate your achievements. The entire College community is very proud of you!”
This year’s valedictorian was Irvin Ibarguen, who graduated summa cum laude from The Verrazano School at CSI with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. He has been accepted into the prestigious Harvard University Doctoral program in History.
He is a recipient of numerous scholarships and fellowships, including the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, an Institute of Mexicans Abroad (IME) Research Fellowship, a CSI Auxiliary Service Corporation Award for Academic Excellence in History, a Phi Beta Kappa Associates Award, and he was the first recipient of the Aramis Gonzalo Rios Memorial Scholarship. He is a Dean’s List student and he was featured in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges.
Drawing from his own experience as the son of Mexican immigrants in his address, Ibarguen discussed the difficulties and privations experienced by many newcomers to the United States, noting that many ethnic groups for centuries have experienced these hardships as they attempted to make a better life for themselves in the U.S. He also paid tribute to his family and the faculty and staff members at CSI who helped him to attain his current level of success. In closing, he urged the other graduates to value their alma mater. “…I beg that today, you stop to value everything CSI gave you and everything you gave CSI; that you realize how proud you should feel; and that you never let anyone, not even yourself, make you feel less about your achievements, because we, my fellow graduates, were truly privileged to study at the College of Staten Island.”
Also on hand for the festivities were U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Jay Hershenson, and CUNY Trustee Kay Pesile, who offered the graduates words of encouragement.
In addition to the presentation of the degrees to CSI students, Dr. Morales recognized the recent recipients of the President’s Medal, Dr. Denis Hughes, President of the New York State AFL-CIO and an honorary alumnus of the College of Staten Island; Mrs. Rose Volpe, widow of former CSI President Dr. Edmund Volpe and a founding member of the Friends of CSI, and Dr. Mary O’Donnell, Chairperson of the CSI Department of Nursing.
Later in the afternoon, the annual Dolphin Awards ceremony, which honors outstanding contributions to the College by faculty, staff, and students, was held in the CSI Library. View the CSI Today Dolphin Awards Photo Gallery.
This year’s honorees included:
-Outstanding Scholarly Achievement by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty: Neo Antoniades.
-Outstanding Teaching by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty: Michael Paris.
-Outstanding Teaching by a Member of the Adjunct Faculty: William Smith.
-Outstanding Service and Contribution by a Member of the Full-Time Faculty: Syed Rizvi.
-Outstanding Service and Contribution by a Member of the Non-Teaching Instructional Staff in HEO Title: Sandra Sanchez.
-Outstanding Service and Contribution by a Member of the Non-Teaching Instructional Staff in CLT and OIT Specialist Titles: Arlene Santora.
-Outstanding Service and Contribution by a Member of the Non-Instructional Staff in Clerical Function: Cathleen McGuckin and Loretta Campbell.
-Outstanding Service and Contribution by a Member of the Non-Instructional Staff in Maintenance, Operations, Security, Service, and Support Function: Philip Halsey.
-Outstanding Service and Contribution to the College by a Member of the Part-Time, Non-Teaching Staff: Anita Romano.
-Outstanding Service and Contribution by a Currently Enrolled Student: Meagan Derbyshire.
After emcee Terry Mares, College Writer/Editor, introduced the honorees, President Morales recognized the hard work of everyone who helped to make the 36th Annual Commencement a success. In addition, he thanked everyone at the College who is involved in governance, from the University Council and Faculty Senate to Student Government to the members of his administration. The President concluded by emphasizing that he has valued the opportunity to work with all of his colleagues in the College community over the last five years.