Stony Brook University honored the largest graduating class in its history, granting degrees to 7,350 of the world’s brightest minds in a May 18 Commencement ceremony at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. The Class of 2018 joins the ranks of more than 185,000 Seawolves worldwide, united by a vision of a bold new future.
Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. affirmed his confidence in the graduates and the value of their education in his address to the Class of 2018.
“The data shows that employers and graduate schools recognize the value of your degree, and that helps explain why 92 percent of you will be employed or in graduate school six months from now,” President Stanley said.
“But as pleased as we are with that statistic, we will continue to push for excellence, and continue to make your Stony Brook degree and your University something you can always be proud of. You should expect nothing less,” he said.
Accepting the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters was Poet Laureate of the United States Tracy K. Smith. An acclaimed poet, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and professor at Princeton University, Smith spoke about the importance of language, urging the graduates to use words with care, integrity, and discipline.
“Choose, like a poet, to live in a vocabulary that names things in their realness and sometimes troubling complexity,” she said.
“Every mindful action has the potential to be troubling,” she added. “Be poets, pushing your words, your thoughts, your wishes and your dreams to a place where ‘troubling’ is possible.” Smith closed with a reading of her poem Wade in the Water.
Earlier, at the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony held May 17, Atefeh Riazi ‘84 received an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Riazi is chief information technology officer for the United Nations, with responsibility for all of the organization’s needs relating to information and communications technology, and is founder of CIOs Without Borders, a global NGO focused on using technology to provide education, healthcare and infrastructure services to those in need.
Remarks were also delivered by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), who congratulated the Class of 2018, described his own path to success and hailed Stony Brook as “one of the best institutions of higher learning, not just in Long Island or New York, but in the whole world as well.”
Several members of the Class of 2018 were acknowledged by President Stanley for their resilience and extraordinary accomplishments. Among them were:
- Ann Lin, Biochemistry and Economics. Ann is the first in her family to attend college. Her academic career at Stony Brook included research experiences on campus and at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where her studies on genes associated with survival from cancer have been published, with her as first author. She was named a Goldwater Scholar, and has been selected as one of the hercampus.com “22 Under 22” Most Inspiring College Women. Ann has received a Fulbright Scholarship to study for one year in Norway as she pursues her goal of obtaining a PhD focusing on genetics and cancer biology.
- Lydia Senatus, Economics major with minors in Business Management and International Studies. A first-generation student and a member of Stony Brook’s EOP/AIM program, Lydia made the Dean’s List every semester while working two jobs to help cover the cost of her education. Lydia received a Gilman Scholarship, which helped support a month of study in China, and a 2018 Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship, a highly competitive award supporting extraordinary individuals seeking a career in the U.S. Foreign Service.
- Ten graduating members of the women’s lacrosse team, which is currently undefeated, ranked first in the nation and pursuing the national championship.
“They are committed to excellence, and are willing to put in the hard work to achieve that goal,” President Stanley said of the team. “They can compete with and beat anyone from any other college and university, at any time or any place. That’s Stony Brook pride and spirit, and that’s what you possess.”
Also among the graduates were Helena Roura, 44, and her daughter, Anastasia Roura, 24, both of Mastic. Helena put her own dreams on the back burner to start a family more than 20 years ago, but today the pair turned their tassels side-by-side.
The Class of 2018 is the largest and most diverse in the University’s history, boasting graduates from 43 states and 73 countries. The graduates range in age from 18 to 77.
Representing them at Commencement was student speaker Eshani Goradia, a self-described “brown kid from a super-competitive high school,” who described “falling in love” with Stony Brook and shared the roller coaster of emotions she endured in her early days on campus while living away from home for the first time.
“Stony Brook is a place which thrives on innovation, forward thinking, and intellectual curiosity; a crucible of ideas and progress,” Goradia told the assembled graduates.
“Stony Brook is a place which uses its diversity and fervor to continually unite the world of academics, and it is a place which I proudly call my home,” she said.
Senior Class Representative Fuad Faruque presented President Stanley with a class gift of $21,000 to the Stony Brook Foundation. The gift will be used to support the Stony Brook Fund for Excellence, General Scholarships, the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, the Marching Band, Student Life, and the Staller Center, among other causes close to the graduates’ hearts.
President Stanley’s address to the Class of 2018