Entering under a banner of blue and white balloons, about 2,000 graduating students took part in commencement exercises last Friday at Queensborough Community College.
The graduates are from 120 nations and many are the first in their families to attend college.
The keynote speaker was John King, the state education commissioner, who praised the students “for their perseverance and sense of purpose” and suggested they “start building their legacy.”
His address centered on the importance of teaching and that the ultimate goal “is to nurture intelligence and character.”
Eduardo Marti, former president of QCC and now CUNY vice chancellor for community colleges, was awarded the presidential medal for exceptional and longstanding commitment to the partnership between the school and the community. Diane Call, interim president at the Bayside campus, presented the honor.
Also attending the ceremony were several members of the class of 1962, which was the first graduating class at the two-year college. Among them was Paulette Kohane, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor, who enrolled at QCC in her late 30s to study education. She went on to study at Columbia University and taught in the city public school system for 30 years.
Class of 2012 commencement awards went to: Anais Wong for the highest scholastic average and in liberal arts and sciences; Tatiana Koverina for the second highest average; Dayaretnage Patirana Senaratna for the highest average in the associate in applied science degree program;
Also, Oluwadamisa Atanda was honored for outstanding college and community leadership; and Lee-Kon Chen for exceptional leadership in promoting racial harmony and cultural diversity.