More than 1,500 family and friends joined 357 graduates at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge on Friday for St. Joseph’s College New York’s 97th annual commencement ceremony.
SJC Brooklyn’s Class of 2016 was encouraged to “live a life of service” by its College’s president, Jack P. Calareso, Ph.D., and to “be the people who aren’t afraid to jump into the darkness to bring light to others” by its undergraduate valedictorian Claudia Fernandes.
Before bachelor’s and master’s degrees were conferred on what President Calareso called SJC’s “centennial class,” the College honored the memory of one of its most beloved professors and administrators, Sister John Raymond McGann, C.S.J., Ph.D., with a posthumous honorary doctor of letters. S. John Raymond passed away earlier this year.
Local U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, J.D., received an honorary doctor of laws and delivered the commencement address.
“If you want to experience championship level success, you’ve got to learn how to work together successfully with others,” Jeffries told the graduates. “four years ago, you made a tremendous decision to associate yourself with this great college. You’re part of a tremendous team.”
“Be proud of your academic success. Be proud of your St. Joseph’s values. And be proud of a 100-year tradition.”
— President Jack P. Calareso, Ph.D.
Roseanne Fraumeni of Marine Park in Brooklyn was among the hundreds of proud parents at the ceremony. Her daughter Janine, 24, received a master’s degree in literacy and cognition, two years after earning an undergraduate degree in education from SJC Brooklyn.
Another daughter, Jillian, 25, finished earning the same sequence of degrees in May 2015. At her fourth SJC commencement in four years, Fraumeni sat back in her seat feeling a wave of satisfaction.
“This is beyond pride. This is my legacy,” she said. “If I died tomorrow, I’d rest in peace because I know they’re happy and that they’ve found their calling.”
Many parents cited the warmth their children felt during the years studying at SJC.
“She always said St. Joseph’s was like a second home,” said Gina Toyo, whose daughter Marsha Firmin, 21, graduated with a degree in speech pathology and education. “She worked so hard. We’re so proud of her.”
Marsha Firmin’s dad, Marceau Firmin, added:
“She’s an ‘A’ student. If she gets a ‘B,’ she cries.”
Joanne Fraumeni said “St. Joseph’s has been “more like a family than a school” for her daughters. She recalled how the College paid her daughters’ tuition in the fall of 2012 after their home was flooded in wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Dr. Calareso said service is part of the SJC bloodline.
“Be proud of your academic success,” he told the graduates. “Be proud of your St. Joseph’s values. And be proud of a 100-year tradition.”
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also addressed the graduates.
Congratulations to the Class of 2016!
— St. Joseph’s College (@SJCNY) May 27, 2016
— SJCNY BK Admissions (@SJCBKAdmissions) May 27, 2016