Welcoming more than 1,800 diverse and highly accomplished graduates to the next level, Stony Brook University held its 21st annual winter commencement ceremony December 21 in the Island Federal Arena. The new graduates join 190,000 alumni who are already bringing Stony Brook expertise and spirit to all corners of the globe.
“I know that behind each and every one of your degrees is a story of hard work, of passion for knowledge, and of challenges, but ultimately today, perseverance and sweet success,” Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. told the assembled class. “You are graduating at an extraordinary time for our country and the world.”
“We face tremendous challenges, but also tremendous opportunities,” President Stanley said. “I am convinced that you are in the right place at the right time to make a positive difference.”
At the ceremony, the University awarded 1,820 degrees, including 995 bachelor’s degrees, 670 master’s, 110 doctoral and professional, and 60 certificates. The class ranged in age from 19 to 71.
Marine Sciences major Rian Leung addressed her fellow graduates as student speaker.
“Stony Brook has provided us with a community and family … that supports you unconditionally, that offers you guidance and advice, and one that is always cheering you on,” Leung said. “I leave here now knowing that I am not just one of 26,000, but part of a family of 26,000.”
Leung urged her classmates to put the lessons and skills gained at SBU to good use in their communities.
“We are the masters of our fate. We have an abundance of talent to offer a world that is in desperate need of our contributions and there is no time to waste,” she said. “So tonight, we celebrate. Tomorrow, we get to work.”
President Stanley praised the graduates for their academic success and noted their diverse talents and backgrounds.
“Some of you are the sons and daughters of immigrants, often the first member of your family to attend college. This extraordinary diversity creates a unique environment: Stony Brook is not a university where everyone looks the same or comes from the same ethnic or socioeconomic background,” he said.
“At Stony Brook, diversity is part and parcel of our experience, and in my opinion, each of you has a powerful leg up on graduates from other universities as we enter a new, global economy,” he said.
President Stanley cited a recent Stanford University study showing that SBU is a proven path toward upward advancement for students from low-income households, far ahead of many of its better-funded peers, public and private.
“This is upward mobility, the key to ending income inequality. This is what we do at Stony Brook, and we’re proud of it,” he said.