SJC Brooklyn is celebrating the more than 270 graduates in the Class of 2021 during in-person commencement exercises on Saturday, May 22.
The graduating seniors have a lot to be proud of. They persevered through a global pandemic, and kept up their intellectual rigor during a time of crisis. Despite the challenges, they continued to secure competitive internships, reach new heights in their careers and serve their community.
As freshmen, St. Joseph’s President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D., welcomed the Class of 2021 at its investiture ceremony by calling the group of intellectuals “courageous.”
“You’ve shown courage by coming to St. Joseph’s. You’ve shown courage by deciding to take a chance, and to be with us,” Dr. Boomgaarden said at the 2017 event, greeting his very first class of incoming SJC freshmen.
The Class of 2021 proved Dr. Boomgaarden right, as they prepare to formally assemble at graduation four years later.
SJC Brooklyn Valedictorian Rachel Rocha said she is highlighting the pride she shares for her classmates during her graduation speech.
“As students, we get undervalued sometimes as far as how much we take on in this world,” Rocha said. “I always say people refer to us as ‘the next generation’ or ‘the future,’ but now we’re the present. The future is here and we have to step up, and make these changes, and be the leaders in our society.
She continued: “I’m proud and I’m confident that we are going to take on this role in whichever career path we follow and go into and be the change and spark more kindness, more acceptance in our society. It’s how you make people feel that’s important — and I think our graduating class will definitely ignite that and make a difference.”
St. Joseph’s Congratulates the Class of 2021
Degree: Double major in Business Administration and Marketing
Getting Involved: Gangone was the Student Government Association president, sat on the judiciary committee of the Student Senate and is a member of the community service club, S.T.R.I.P.E.S. (Students Taking a Role In Positively Empowering Society) and the Italian Club. He also went on Alternative Spring Break trips and took part in many fundraisers.
Reflecting on His SJC Journey: “This college is very unique. It’s one of the few, if any, that employs such a sense of community. Upon my first experience with the school at my freshman orientation I was ushered into a welcoming atmosphere, dense with excitement. I was so fond of the way the student leaders ushered me into the SJC family.”
Degree: Marketing major, with a minor in Business Administration and a concentration in Sports Management
Getting Involved: Rocha was co-captain of the women’s soccer team, volunteered as the student manager of the women’s basketball team, held leadership positions in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, served as an orientation leader, and took part in the Residence Life Association. She also tutored her peers in the Academic Center and was a student worker in the Office of Admissions.
Reflecting on Her SJC Journey: “As a Jersey girl, I always wanted to go to school in New York and I thank God that he introduced me to this small, but sweet, college in the middle of Brooklyn,” Rocha said. “Never in a million years would I have thought I would be valedictorian. It is a surreal feeling, and I truly would not be here without all the support from my family, friends and entire SJC community.”
Degree: Adolescent education, history major
Getting Involved: Maxham is a member of S.T.R.I.P.E.S. and sat as the Student Government Association secretary. As an honors student, Maxham helped The McEntegart Hall Library document student life at SJC during the COVID-19 pandemic for the annual Voices of SJC archives project.
Reflecting on His SJC Journey: “I had a really amazing time at SJC during these last four years. From doing Alternative Spring Break, to helping out at various events with student government, I have made awesome friends and memories that I will always cherish.”
Degree: Child Study major
Getting Involved: Wenzler led the annual Thanksgiving Food Dive fundraiser as the president of S.T.R.I.P.E.S. He also took part in Alternate Spring Break trips, volunteering in communities across the U.S., and a backyard mission trip, assisting communities in New York City.
Reflecting on His SJC Journey: “St. Joseph’s College is the best school I could have asked for. I am learning how to become a great teacher, exploring my passion for service, and I am making friends that will last a lifetime. I am forever grateful for the impact SJC has left on my life.”
Degree: Cyber Security, M.S.
Dedication to Social Responsibility: The New York Police Department promoted King last year as the head of the Special Victims Unit. King said he plans to improve the unit’s reputation, as he advocates for women’s rights.
Reflecting on His SJC Journey: “It’s been great. I got a scholarship from being part of the NYPD, there’s small class sizes and a beautiful campus. The professors have been very approachable, and knowledgeable, and are very up-to-date with cyber,” he said. “They get on our level and are always willing to help anyone. As someone who is an adult learner, and has to go to work every day, that’s a very attractive quality for a professor to have.”