2 Photos. Photo 1, audience listening to speaker. Photo 2, 2 men. 2 women in graduation caps and gowns.

On June 3, Eugenio María de Hostos Community College of The City University of New York (CUNY) held its 43rd Commencement Ceremony, which celebrated the accomplishments of nearly 900 graduates. This was the second-largest graduating class in the College’s 46-year history.

Hostos was privileged to have Dr. James B. Milliken, the City University’s new Chancellor participating in this ceremony, which was his first since becoming head of CUNY. “Continue to be a standard bearer,” Milliken told the College community. “I thank you for what you do for the CUNY system.”

Hostos was also honored to have two other distinguished participants in this event—New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Sheena Wright, President and CEO of United Way of New York City.

Hostos President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez praised the Class of 2014 and also saluted the faculty, staff, family members, and friends who supported the graduates on their academic journey: “Now you’re about to receive your diplomas, which will  be your passport to the next port of call – further studies at a four-year institution or the beginning of a career. Whatever you do, don’t put your minds in dry dock. Education doesn’t end with a degree.”

President Matos Rodríguez also presented the President’s Medal, which is the highest honor given by the College, to City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito. Expressing her gratitude, Mark-Viverito urged the graduates to continue the mission of the man for whom the college was named, Eugenio María de Hostos.

“Always keep learning,” she said. “Today is about a confirmation of possibilities … You, too, can accomplish great things.”

Wright, the first female president and CEO of United Way of New York City in its 75 years, also inspired the graduates with her story of perseverance, dedication and drive.

Born and reared in the South Bronx, Wright said that education had enabled her to overcome many obstacles. She urged the Class of 2014 to always keep learning and remain humble, but never forget who they are inside. “Blaze your own trail, but appreciate the fact that you are creating a runway for others,” Wright said.

Ms. Wright’s message was echoed by the story of Shalim López, Hostos’ 2014 Valedictorian. Speaking no English when she came to the United States, Shalim enrolled in the CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP) at Hostos in the Spring of 2011 and went right to work.

Shalim was undaunted by that fact that she was the first member of her family to attend college, and she resolved not to let the language barrier stand in her way. Overcoming obstacles with the full support of her family, she also raised the bar. She wanted more.

After three years at Hostos, Shalim graduated with a 4.0 GPA. She is now enrolled at Lehman College and working toward a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work.

 “This success did not happen magically,” Shalim said. “But I, like you, believe we can all be successful.”

Hostos is a place where success and devotion go hand-in-hand and nowhere was that better represented than by having long-time Professors Vermell Blanding and Professor Adrian Benítez serving as Grand Marshals of the commencement ceremonies. Both retired at the closing of this academic year after 39 and 41 years of service, respectively.

And to support the College’s most important celebration, several Hostos Foundation Board of Directors members were in attendance including, Mr. José A. Sánchez- Kinghorn, Chairperson; Vice Chairperson; Ms. Elba Cabrera, Secretary; Ms. Carolyn McLaughlin; and Mr. Robert Morgan.

Other participants in the 43rd Commencement included Philip Alfonso Berry, Vice Chairperson of the CUNY Board of Trustees; Rita DiMartino, member of the CUNY Board of Trustees; U.S. Congressman José E. Serrano; and Jay Hershenson, Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the CUNY Board of Trustees.

Acknowledging the many graduates who are parents and those who earned their degrees while holding full-time jobs, Congressman Serrano said they should take pride in being “non-traditional students.”

“You are exceptional. Many of you work and have children to raise, but you still remained committed to your education, and to making a better future for yourselves and your families. I salute you all for your hard work.”

Professor Hector López, Chairperson of the Business Department and Coordinator of the Accounting Unit as well as the Chair of the College Senate, and Associate Professor Joyce Dais of the Dental Hygiene Program, served as master and mistress of ceremonies for the Commencement.

To view Commencement photo gallery, click here.

About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique "Student Success Coaching Unit" provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services.

Hostos offers 29 associate degree programs and five certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY's four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of The City University of New York (CUNY), the nation's leading urban public university, which serves more than 480,000 students at 24 colleges.