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Berkeley College Applauds Graduates during Virtual Commencement Ceremony

Fri Jun 5, 2020

Berkeley College recognized more than 2,200 graduates at its virtual Commencement ceremony on Friday, June 5, 2020. Instead of the graduation hallmark of years past, when each graduate was called to the stage and shook hands the President, each graduate was invited to create a Commencement slide featuring a personal message, video or photos to share during the virtual ceremony. Virtual attendees also heard special video messages from New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Chuck Schumer.

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Photo Caption: Speakers at the virtual Berkeley College Commencement ceremony held on June 5, 2020 included (top row, from left): Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College; Dallas Reed, PhD, Berkeley College Vice President, Student Development and Campus Life; Gloria Davy, PhD, Berkeley College Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences; and El Mehdi Bendriss, Berkeley College Class of 2020 Student Speaker. Second row, from left: U.S. Senator for New York Charles Schumer; New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie; and U.S. Senator for New Jersey Cory Booker.

 “The opportunities that now stand before you are truly endless,” said Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College. “Know that the future isn’t written for you – the future is written by you … Focus on whether you have done everything in your own power to really know your goals and act every single day to move toward them. Any day you have moved toward your goals, you are a success, and I challenge you to never, ever accept anything less than you deserve.”

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A pre-Commencement salute to the Berkeley College Class of 2020 took place as a Facebook Live event. During the ceremony, congratulatory remarks repeatedly recognized this year’s graduating class as the most prepared to enter a world of uncertainty and opportunity.

“Because of the monumental challenges we are experiencing, the work you do in our communities, in our State, and in our nation, will be more important than ever,” said Speaker Heastie. “Challenges like the ones we are facing shake us to our core. They force us to adapt. They remind us to care for our most vulnerable. They show us our weaknesses, but more importantly, they make strong leaders.”

U.S. Senator for New Jersey Cory Booker encouraged the graduates to realize the power of their spirit in showing up for what they do each and every day. “Show up with kindness,” Booker said. “It’s about service, sacrifice and being there for others. Bring your power of love. The world needs it. Don’t underestimate (the power) to use it every day.”

“You are all graduating at a time of profound economic and social change,” U.S. Senator for New York Schumer said. “Your generation is better equipped than any before to adapt to the new obstacles they present and to seize the opportunities on the horizon, pursue your passions and accomplish great things. Don’t let the fear of failure deter you. Embrace the unknown. Soak up every opportunity it has to offer.”

While the 2020 Berkeley College graduating class continues to reflect high diversity in terms of ethnicity and age, the number of graduates who utilized online learning has increased. Nearly 90% of this year’s graduates enrolled in online courses while earning their degrees at Berkeley College compared with 83% of last year’s graduating class. The percentage of graduates who took only online classes to earn their degrees this year was 8.9% compared with 5.5% last year.

Leading Berkeley College’s virtual Commencement ceremony this year, Dallas Reed, PhD, Vice President, Student Development and Campus Life, said, “Although these are challenging times, I am given hope knowing that our graduates will play a critical role in rebuilding the future and making a brighter tomorrow.”

Among the graduates receiving Certificates, Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, more than 37% will receive them with honors. Among the 163 graduates who comprised the military veteran cohort, more than 47% are graduating with honors. Age-wise, more than 56% are age 25 and above, with the average age of an undergraduate just above 28 years.

Graduates of the Berkeley College Class of 2020 join a network of more than 60,000 Berkeley College alumni eligible to receive lifetime career assistance.

Student Honorees

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Photo Captions: (Left) Josephine Cornacchia of Woodland Park, NJ, received the Outstanding Student Award during the virtual Berkeley College Commencement ceremony on June 5, 2020. (Right) El Mehdi Bendriss of Bloomfield, NJ, addressed the graduates as the Student Speaker.

During the 2020 virtual Commencement ceremony, Berkeley College awarded Josephine Cornacchia of Woodland Park, NJ, the Outstanding Student Award. The award is presented annually to a graduate who has met high standards of academic excellence while overcoming personal, professional or financial obstacles. You can read the full story about Cornacchia here.

As the Student Speaker, El Mehdi Bendriss of Bloomfield, NJ, addressed the graduates during the ceremony. An Honors student, Bendriss worked in the Berkeley College Government Relations office and has aspirations to work in politics. He received a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies. You can read the full story about Bendriss here.

Faculty Speaker and Alumnus of the Year

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Photo Captions: (Left) Gloria Davy, PhD, Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Berkeley College, addressed graduates during the virtual Commencement ceremony on June 5, 2020. (Right) Troy Scott of Manhattan, NY, Berkeley College Class of 2011, was named the 2020 Alumnus of the Year.

Gloria Davy, PhD, Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, served as the Faculty Speaker during the ceremony. “As you move forward and pursue all your dreams, you deserve the best that this life has to offer. We, the faculty, would like to impart to you our blessings, love, honesty, respect, and pride,” Davy said.

Davy was recognized with a Faculty Award at the 2019 Veterans Graduate Gala for her guidance and support of the College’s military and veteran students. She received a Berkeley College Faculty of the Year award in 2014. Davy is a resident of Irvington, NJ.

Troy Scott of Manhattan, NY, was named the 2020 Alumnus of the Year. The award is presented annually to a Berkeley College graduate who has enjoyed professional success and fulfillment through community service. You can read the full story about Scott here.

About Berkeley College
Berkeley College, founded in 1931, is a career-focused institution accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that offers students Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs in more than 20 career fields. The College has campuses in Midtown Manhattan and White Plains, NY, as well as in Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park, NJ, with more than 5,700 students enrolled. In addition, Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, for seven consecutive years. The website address is www.BerkeleyCollege.edu

The mission of Berkeley College is to empower students to achieve lifelong success in dynamic careers.