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Percentage of Online Graduates Increases as Berkeley College Celebrates Its First All-Virtual Commencement Ceremony

Wed Jun 3, 2020

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Berkeley College will recognize more than 2,200 graduates during its first all-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, this year each graduate was invited to create a Commencement slide featuring a personal message, video or photos to share during the virtual ceremony.

Graduates also have access to a Berkeley College SnapChat filter, where they can wear a virtual cap and gown, and are invited to walk across the Commencement stage during the 2021 ceremony. Virtual attendees will hear from Berkeley College speakers and honorees, including special video messages from New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.

“Commencement is always the best day of the year,” said Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College. “We share the pride of these graduates in their accomplishments and look forward to their leadership in the future. It is essential that we recognize every one of our graduates and their outstanding achievements.”

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.

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.

In 2020, for the seventh consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Berkeley College among the Best Colleges in the nation for Online Bachelor Degree Programs. The ranking also recognizes Berkeley College as among the best Online Bachelor Degree Programs for Veterans.

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.

Graduates Excel in an Increasingly Virtual World – in College and Careers

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Paola Monroy of Englewood, NJ, began her college career intending to complete her degree online. She first graduated from Berkeley College with an Associate’s degree in Fashion Marketing and Management in 2012. When she returned in 2018 to pursue a Bachelor’s degree, her approach included a combination of on-site and online courses.

“I saw the opportunity to have both online and on-site classes as a ‘Mommy-Time,’” Monroy said. “It was time for myself, to go out and study, meet with classmates, see people and interact without being interrupted … I made good friends with moms I could relate to. It was all about us exceling in our career goals while managing the responsibilities of raising our families.”

Monroy completed her last semester at Berkeley College while sharing parenting duties of her 2-year-old daughter Amelia, with her husband Jason. In early March, she landed a position as a market analyst of lubricant products for a French oil and energy firm. Due to the pandemic’s shelter-in-place directive, Monroy has not been able to go into the office for her new position, but is working from home.

“I’m very happy to complete my Bachelor’s degree in Marketing Communications,” Monroy said. “It is a big, big accomplishment to be a full-time mom and full-time employee and a full-time student.”  You can read the full story about Monroy here.

Edward Hernandez, who resides in the Hudson Valley, served six years in the U.S. Air Force in the military police and soon expects to complete 20 years of service in the New York Police Department where he worked his way up through the ranks to reach his current position as a Detective. At age 40, Hernandez is celebrating earning his Bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies – Criminal Justice.

“When I first attempted college I was unsuccessful. I needed structure and the military gave me that,” explained Hernandez, who took most of his courses online at Berkeley College. “There I learned about setting priorities, scheduling and putting what matters first for my future. While working full-time and being a full-time student, you have to dedicate your own time to school.”

Hernandez noted the difference in what he learned in the military compared with his college education. “I received hands-on training in the military,” he said. “At Berkeley, educated professors teach. You learn a lot of detailed information. It brought me to the roots of education by writing and reading – these things that will prove to be what I need to be more successful in my next career.”

Hernandez also had advice for younger students considering earning their college degrees. “Try to get mentorship and talk to alumni to get a better understanding of how important that education is, how important it is to not waste the opportunity. Don’t be afraid to seek some type of leadership. Do not waste opportunities.”

Student Honorees

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

During the 2020 virtual Commencement ceremony, Berkeley College will award 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.

After graduating from high school in Bohemia, NY, Cornacchia enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served five years in satellite communications for a combat communications squadron. She faced hardships, but overcame her challenges to earn a Certificate in Culinary Arts at Eva’s Kitchen in Paterson, NJ. During her time at Berkeley College, she served as Vice President of the Berkeley College Spartans, a club affiliated with the Student Veterans of America. Cornacchia will receive a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Administration – Management. You can read the full story about Cornacchia here.

El Mehdi Bendriss of Bloomfield, NJ, will serve as the Student Speaker during the ceremony. An Honors student, Bendriss worked in the Berkeley College Government Relations office and has aspirations to work in politics. He will receive 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 School of Liberal Arts, will address 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, School of Liberal Arts, will serve as the Faculty Speaker during the ceremony.

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.

Scott, who graduated from Berkeley College in 2011 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Administration – Management, is employed as a Professional Mentor for Friends of the Children, a national organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of generational poverty through mentoring. He is the author of “Change is Nature,” published in 2016. 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.