Press Release: CUNY Baccalaureate Program 2005 Commencement

Time and Place: Tuesday, June 7, 10 am in the Great Hall at The Cooper Union, 7 East 7th Street at Third Avenue

Graduates: 250

Keynote speaker: Dennis Walcott, New York City Deputy Mayor for Policy

Faculty speaker: Prof. George Andreoupoulos, Government, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Student speaker: John Hughes, Irish Sociology Studies concentration

Administered by The Graduate Center, the CUNY Baccalaureate Program (CUNY BA/BS Program) is a small, University-wide individualized degree program intended for self-directed, academically strong students who have well-formulated academic and career goals. Most are working adults, many of whom are raising families; 80% are over 25 years old (49% are over 35 years old); and a significant number are returning to school, often after a hiatus of anywhere from 5 to 30 years. The current enrollment is about 700 students and there are over 5,000 alumni. The Program generates many graduates with compelling life stories, a few of which follow.

CUNY Baccalaureate Program

Selected 2005 Graduate Profiles

Starr Bernard

Black Global Literature/Literary Criticism and Creative Writing concentration

Starr Bernard is a Haitian woman, born in the U.S., the daughter of exiled Haitian idealists. She says, ASince childhood, books have been my rock, my mirror, my voice. Stories of black girls who became strong black women saved me from the chokehold of self-hatred. Stories of black boys and men struggling to find gentleness in a hard world reflected my every day. In the quietude of a first generation exile, I began my life's work to explore and contribute to the varied terrain of Black Global Literature. After years of studying independently, writing several collections of poetry (Editor's Note: Bernard's pen name is Z'etoile Imma), freelance writing and performing, and attending college in San Francisco, I came to realize the importance of serious academic and artistic growth in a community that reflects my work. According to her mentor, Brooklyn College Professor George Cunningham, AMs. Bernard is exceptional in many ways. From the first day of class, she evidenced a personal and scholarly commitment to intellectual inquiry...I rank her among the best students that I have taught at Brooklyn College and at the top of students who have gone on to the best graduate and professional schools. She has been accepted with a full fellowship into the Ph.D. program of the University of Virginia English department.

Adrian Coman

Human Rights concentration

Adrian Coman graduated with a Baccalaureate degree in Chemistry from a university in Romania, where he enrolled months after the fall of the communist regime. After graduating, his interests began to change as the political and social climate of Romania was reshaped. AI felt I wanted to be an active part of the changing society, not just bear witness from a distance. He started working in the human rights field at the grass-roots level in Romania and other central and Eastern European countries. Coman became the first executive director of a national human rights NGO called ACCEPT, the Bucharest Acceptance Group, which focused on legal reform for lesbians and gays in that country. There he dealt with Romanian public authorities, the U.S. Department of State, foreign embassies, and European Union officials. ACCEPT's lobbying efforts contributed to the repeal of discriminatory provisions on sexual orientation in Romanian criminal law and the adoption of legislation against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Coman is now a program associate with the Baltic-American Partnership Fund, a U.S. grant-making organization focused on civil society development in the Baltic States.

Bryant Johnson

Psychology/Gerontology concentration

Bryant Johnson is the father of six children, three boys and three girls. He returned to college, in part, to Abuild a strong foundation and positive legacy for my children. Since 1991, he has worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse. AMy LPN experience throughout various nursing homes in this city has afforded me a >bird's eye view' to the real nursing home experience. This view has impressed upon me the absolute need for nursing home reform. My career goal is to research and contribute to a better quality of life for the elderly. He has written that juggling a fifty-six hour work week, 15 credit hours of school each semester, and raising his children has Ahad the effect of strengthening my resolve and ambitions toward my future endeavor, working with the elderly....It has been a privilege and a blessing to be able to attend college and pursue my career. After spending 24 years working in a job I did not like, returning to school has been my way out, my second chance in life to make a difference by pursuing a dream that escaped me as a young adult. When he graduates this June, his 21-year old daughter will also graduate from John Jay College.

Barbara Trees

Environmentalism concentration

Barbara Trees worked for almost twenty years as a union carpenter. She returned to school to pursue her interests in environmental conservation and ethics, hoping Ato meld traditional science, with theories regarding the physical environment from other save the physical world from further degradation through the use of science and activism. Trees has a history of activism to her credit: as a union carpenter, she organized both a cross-trades group for women from all construction unions and the first Women's Carpenter Committee; she also served as one of the first women shop stewards and was the first female officer on the Executive Committee of her union. For that work, she was awarded the Susan B. Anthony Award from the National Organization for Women. Trees started college in New Mexico in 1967; she resumed her education at Hunter College in 2002 and has been a straight AA student ever since. She has had a life-long interest in indigenous people, and in 1988 attended the Lakota Summer Institute on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, returning frequently to that reservation to participate in other programs. She hopes to pursue a Master's degree at a university in the western region of the U.S., close to the wilderness and tribal people; she also hopes to further her knowledge of the Lakota language and traditions.

Submitted on: MAY 1, 2005

Category: Commencements | Press Room