June 16, 2022

SUNY Empire Honors Class of 2022 in Manhattan

SUNY Empire State College celebrated graduates at 50th commencement ceremony

(NEW YORK, NY– June 16, 2022)

SUNY Empire State College celebrated the class of 2022 with two commencement ceremonies on Friday, June 10 at the New York City Center in Midtown Manhattan. This was SUNY Empire’s first in-person spring commencement since 2019. 

Members of the SUNY Empire class of 2022 collectively live in 58 different New York state counties, in 24 U.S. states and territories, 15 countries around the world, and ranged from ages 19 to 73.

The ceremonies featured four student speakers including, Zach Golan of New York, NY, who received a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in organizational training and technology, Gabrielle Rogano of Des Moines, WA, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration is labor studies, Joyce Smith of New York, NY, who received a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration is labor studies, and James Giannone of Brooklyn, NY, who received an Associate in Science degree. 

SUNY Empire Officer in Charge Nathan Gonyea presented an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree to SUNY Empire State College alumnus and world-renowned artist and educator, Dawoud Bey ’90. An honorary degree is one of higher education’s most prestigious accolades that SUNY Empire awards to select distinguished individuals who merit special recognition for achievement and distinction in a field in keeping with the mission of the college. 

Of his achievement, Bey said, “I can't begin to tell you all how deeply moving it is to receive this honor from SUNY Empire. My time at SUNY Empire was an extraordinarily meaningful experience and I am extremely grateful to have attended an institution where I did not have to step away from an academic career while pursuing my professional life.”

SUNY Empire State College Officer in Charge Nathan Gonyea said, "SUNY Empire graduates are proof that there is no one route to a college degree. In many cases, our students are not the so-called ‘traditional’ students who walk out of high school straight into college. They worked, raised families, and served their country before earning or while earning their degree. Online and blended education have fast become a new norm, and SUNY Empire remains at the forefront of those models.” 

SUNY Empire State College Harry Van Arsdale Jr. School of Labor Studies Dean Maria Figueroa said, "Congratulations to our graduates for their hard work and commitment to making it through the finish line, despite unprecedented challenges. My thanks to the labor leaders who have joined us for their many contributions to the welfare of the working people of this city, the state of New York, and the country as a whole.” 

Director of the Educational and Cultural Trust Fund of the Electrical Industry and SUNY Empire State College alumnus Michael Yee ’17 said, "As a graduate of SUNY Empire State College, I am proud to stand here. We are all connected to something very special, a place that recognized our potential and helped us to achieve a degree with dignity.”