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Stony Brook Confers Degrees to Class Of 2020

Michaelbernstein sbu crop
Interim President Michael Bernstein

STONY BROOK, NY, May 22, 2020 — Following three months of remote learning during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, a celebration of Stony Brook University students took place during the 2020 Virtual Degree Conferral Celebration today in which 7,100 graduates were awarded a combined total of 7,190 degrees and certificate completions. All candidates, with their families and friends, were invited to participate in a live-streamed celebration.

[Watch the ceremony here]

Staying true to the extent possible to the University’s traditional Commencement ceremony, Interim President Michael Bernstein and University Deans conferred degrees to the 7,100 students, as the Class of 2020 officially joined the ranks of more than 200,000 Seawolves worldwide. Students from 67 countries and 40 states were represented in the Class of 2020 and ranged in age from 18 to 71.

Stony brook students photo
Class of 2020 Stony Brook University students socially distance themselves while recently visiting campus to have photographs taken wearing their caps and gowns. (Photo Credit: Stony Brook University)

Degrees were bestowed in the following categories:

  • 4,500 Bachelor’s Degrees
  • 1,925 Master’s Degrees
  • 375 Doctorate Degrees
  • 125 Medical Degrees
  • 41 Doctor of Dental Surgery Degrees
  • 230 Certificates

Interim President Bernstein addressed the candidates saying, “You are about to become graduates of one of the most prestigious public universities in the world. Graduation is a bittersweet milestone in the best of circumstances, with a pivotal life-chapter ending and an uncertain journey beginning. The strong emotions that inevitably come with this rite of passage are of course uniquely amplified in the midst of the historic upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Student speaker
Julianna Casella,

Julianna Casella, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Psychology with a Minor in Writing and Rhetoric, was selected as the Class of 2020’s student speaker. In the fall, Julianna will be attending the University at Buffalo, pursuing a Ph.D. in School and Counseling Psychology, eventually planning to work in research crisis prevention and intervention in schools.

“I am confident that any other class of Seawolves would have responded the same way [to the pandemic], because that is what we do here at Stony Brook,” said Juliana. “Even though much has been lost during this crisis, at the end of the day, two feelings prevail: Hope and gratitude. I will always be thankful for the memories and opportunities Stony Brook has given me and if our response to this pandemic has been proof enough, I think we should all be hopeful for what the future holds.”

Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator for New York; Kathleen C. Hochul, Lieutenant Governor of the State of New York; Kristina M. Johnson, Chancellor of the State University of New York; and Dr. Richard Gatteau, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students for Stony Brook provided pre-recorded remarks. (quotes on page two).

Senator governmentAs part of the ceremony, Senior Class Senator Yusra Abdurrop and President of the Undergraduate Student Government, Shaheer Khan presented the Senior Class Legacy gift which was generated from 230 senior donations totaling $9,490. While most students made unrestricted gifts, more than half chose to give to important initiatives on campus including the Stony Brook Fund for Excellence, Health Crisis Fund and Student Emergency Fund. In addition, the Undergraduate Student Government contributed $10,000 with that money specifically going to the Student Emergency Hardship Emergency Fund.

Charles E. Schumer, United States Senator for New York:
“My message to the Class of 2020 is simple. It’s natural to fear the unknown. Don’t let the harshness of this current moment prevent you from seizing opportunities. Don’t forget you have incredible assets: a college degree from a fine institution and loving families who have your back through thick and thin. Our society will overcome this pandemic and so will you. When the worst is over, we’ll need your help to rebuild our country to be stronger than it was before. You are our future leaders and we have faith in you. So to the graduates, I say once again, congratulations, good luck and Godspeed.”

Kathleen C. Hochul, Lieutenant Governor of the State of New York
“Class of 2020, as the curtain of social distancing and isolation begins to lift and we venture out in this period of darkness. I challenge you to define the new American dream as we collectively search to learn lessons from our shared experience. Use your newly acquired education, and your passion to be a catalyst to shape our post-pandemic society into one that promotes generosity, love and kindness. That’s exactly what this world needs right now, and you can lead the way.”

Kristina M. Johnson, Chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY)
“We will need your energy, your passion, your newly acquired skills and sense of purpose. I have no doubt that your SUNY education has prepared you well. You know the meaning of success and what it takes to achieve. You’ve demonstrated that you are fearless, possess the grit, resilience and courage necessary to see through any of the challenges, life will inevitably throw your way. Most importantly, you have the power to rebuild confidence in our nation and your SUNY degrees, we’ll help you do that.”

Dr. Richard Gatteau, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
“While we are separated by miles, we’re here together, united by our common love of Stony Brook University. As we have experienced these last few difficult months together, I am in awe of your resilience and courage to overcome challenges and adversity. For all that you have done here at Stony Brook to make our diverse community better and stronger, Thank you. And to your family, friends, and loved ones who have made many sacrifices and helped you cross the finish line , thank you.”

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About Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University, widely regarded as a SUNY flagship, is going far beyond the expectations of today’s public universities. With more than 26,000 students, 2,700 faculty members, nearly 200,000 alumni, an academic medical center and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs, it is one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system. The University embraces its mission to provide comprehensive undergraduate, graduate, and professional education of the highest quality, and has been ranked among the top 35 public universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Fostering a commitment to academic research and intellectual endeavors, Stony Brook’s membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places it among the top 65 research institutions in North America. The University’s distinguished faculty have earned esteemed awards such as the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. Part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Stony Brook is one of only eight universities that has a role in running a national laboratory. Providing economic growth for neighboring communities and the wider geographic region, the University totals an impressive $7.23 billion in increased economic output on Long Island. Follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter (@stonybrooku).

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