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After days of rain, the sky turned as sunny as the optimism of the Bronx Community College Class of 2019 as they marched into a great tent pitched on Ohio Field for BCC’s 59th Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 31. Some among the 2,157 students just hours away from graduation expressed their joy by decorating their caps with declarations like “Educated Black Queen” and “Para Mi Familia.”

A soulful rendition of the National Anthem by BCC student Cathy Alexis Layne was followed by an invocation from Rabbi Joseph Potasnik before Vice President for Student Success Irene R. Delgado introduced BCC President Thomas A. Isekenegbe.

“You showed your grit and determination and told the world ‘I will succeed’ — and you are here today to proudly show that you are the future of our nation,” the President told the students, noting that ““You are an incredibly diverse group. You come from 48 countries around the world — the flags outside clearly show that. The youngest among you is 19, and the most senior is 76. Ninety-five of the graduates today are BCC employees. Like all of the graduates, you juggled coursework and career. With all that you have accomplished in these past years, you will achieve still more in the world beyond our gates.”

Other speakers included Fernando Ferrer, former Bronx borough president, current member of the Board of Trustees of The City University of New York — and one-time student at New York University’s Bronx campus before it became BCC. He urged his listeners to “Be serious and purposeful leaders dedicated to the public good. Be the change you want to see in your community. And while you’re doing that, reach back and take someone along with you on that journey so you’re not the only one who succeeds.”

BCC students were represented at the podium as well. Carolina Valenzuela, the outgoing president of the Student Government Association, was greeted with cries of “We love you!” as she told her classmates, “Today is our day, Broncos. Being here in this magic moment means you’ve sacrificed, endured and excelled. I encourage you to never stop investing in yourselves and your dreams — and when you reach your pinnacle, remember BCC.”

Class Valedictorian Tatyana Kuptsevich told her story, which was similar to many of those in her audience — arrival in American as an immigrant, followed by years of struggle. But she told the graduates, “I have absolute faith in every one of you. You will go on to accomplish great things.”

The morning ended with the reason for the ceremonies as each student’s name was called and they rose to receive their diplomas, some accompanied by children or carrying babies in one arm as they shook President Isekenegbe’s hand with the other.

The brand new alumni then dispersed to celebrations across campus. A mariachi band played on the campus Quad, a fitting counterpoint to the music in everyone’s heart.

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