St. Joseph’s University, New York honored the transformational journey of its Class of 2022 during the institution’s 103rd annual commencement ceremony Thursday, May 26, inside Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
In total, the University conferred 1,358 degrees on what was a day of firsts. It was the first commencement that celebrated the accomplishments of graduates for St. Joseph’s Brooklyn, Long Island and Online campuses at the same event. It also was St. Joseph’s first commencement as a university.
And as usual, the crowd of graduates — 962 from the Long Island Campus, 299 from Brooklyn and 97 from Online — included many scholars who became the first in their families to graduate from college.
The Class of 2022 counted 977 bachelor’s degrees and 381 master’s degrees.
The commencement speaker was longtime St. Joseph’s University Trustee Sheila Baird, a trailblazer among women leaders in the finance industry. The University honored Baird — and at an earlier ceremony philanthropist Priscilla Knapp Teich — with honorary doctorate degrees.
Baird inspired the graduates and the rest of a crowd of nearly 5,000 with invigorating words of wisdom about service, being resourceful, living out of your comfort zone and giving back.
“You have inherited the tremendous responsibility of defending our liberties and writing the next chapter of America’s history,” Baird, St. Joseph’s trustee emerita, told the graduates. “In other words, be confident that you can make a difference.”
Baird stressed how much more important it is “knowing how to think” than “what to think.”
“As graduates of St. Joseph’s, you have been given an important gift — the gift of critical thinking,” said Baird, a founding managing member at Kimelman & Baird, LLC. “The times are different — so you need to have the courage to think creatively and also to be able to see yourselves differently.”
Scroll down for a photo slideshow of commencement.
Like many of the graduates listening to the commencement speaker, Long Island Campus psychology graduate Caleigh Capek expressed that she has completed her undergraduate studies at St. Joseph’s well-prepared to take on the challenges that lie ahead.
“I sought to fully invest in my education at the College — now University,” said Capek, who graduated with Magna Cum Laude honors. “To me, that was learning far beyond the four walls of the classroom. I attempted to engage in as many academic and extracurricular pursuits that St. Joseph’s could render.”
Capek, 22, of Wading River excelled as a student-athlete on the campus’ track and cross country teams and was an active member of a long list of student clubs and organizations. She earned a bachelor’s in psychology with dual minors in religious studies and mindfulness and contemplative living.
“The field of psychology affords me the opportunity to explore my desire to help others,” explained Capek, who plans to pursue a master’s degree in school counseling.
Among the many inspiring graduate stories across the University’s three campuses is that of 54-year-old MBA graduate Melchor Nvomo at the Brooklyn Campus. One dream down, the Crown Heights resident said he’s onto the next.
“Earning my MBA is a dream come true — I’ve long believed that education is the key to success in life,” Nvomo said before collecting his degree, an MBA with a Concentration in Human Resources Management. “After this, I want to continue my education and earn a Ph.D. in computer science. I like interacting with people and passing down knowledge, so teaching is a natural fit for me.”
Nvomo well understood the message delivered at commencement by St. Joseph’s President Donald R. Boomgaarden, Ph.D.
“When you started at St. Joseph’s, you were at Part A of your journey, and now you are at Part B. In between is where the great transformative journey occurs,” Dr. Boomgaarden said. “The process of reaching your goal is what’s transformative — those moments of deep thought, where you go ‘Ah.’ That’s because of the incredible effort of you and the faculty.
“The second is that after today, you’ll all be alumni of St. Joseph’s University, New York. The term alumnus means to nurture, to foster,” he continued. “The University is more than two beautiful physical campuses — it’s the connections between you, the faculty and one another that make it special and lead to a lifelong connection.”
For Antonino Giambanco, 22, of Manorville, graduation was a bittersweet moment.
“It is an unbelievable feeling to have all of your hard work pay off with finishing a degree that was so rigorous,” said Giambanco, who earned a bachelor’s in nursing from the Long Island Campus with Summa Cum Laude honors. “But at the same time, it’s so hard to say goodbye to all of my friends and professors who helped me reach this goal.”
Giambanco, who received the 2022 Nursing Department Service and Social Responsibility Award and graduated with summa cum laude honors, has a nursing position lined up at Northwell Health’s South Shore University Hospital.
Anthony Pesiri, 28, of Shirley earned a bachelor’s in organizational science and said it was St. Joseph’s University’s Online Campus that made it possible for him to graduate.
“Online education gave me the flexibility I needed to balance my home life and finish my degree,” he said. “After graduation, I plan on pursuing a career in supply chain management.”
Child study degree in hand, Eva Jefferson-Page, 22, of East New York, said she is excited to begin pursuing her master’s at the University’s Brooklyn Campus this fall.
“St. Joseph’s University is my home away from home,” said Jefferson-Page, president of her campus’ Student Government Association. “I learned the importance of education — but also the importance of being a great leader. Being here for these four amazing years really taught me the importance of love, unity and reconciliation.”
— St. Joseph's University New York (@SJCNY) May 26, 2022
Military veteran Steven Galvao, a pararescueman in Westhampton Beach with the U.S. Air National Guard, is excited for what comes next.
“I will continue to be an active member with the Air National Guard while pursuing my doctor of physical therapy degree at Touro University beginning this fall,” said Galvao, who earned a bachelor’s in biology from the Long Island Campus.
As someone with a busy schedule, Galvao of Middle Island had to learn quickly how to organize his workload as a student.
“My time at St. Joseph’s helped me hone in on my time management skills,” said Galvao, who started at Suffolk County Community College before joining the Air National Guard in 2012 and then later returning to class in 2017 to pursue a bachelor’s at St. Joseph’s. “Also, all of the professors were extremely helpful when I had to take courses while deployed or activated for work in other states.”
Leading up to graduation, Artem Pinkhasov, 30, a nursing major from Richmond Hill, worked as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in Queens while serving as his family’s primary caretaker amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A recipient of a grant from the University’s COVID-19 Student Emergency Assistance Fund, Pinkhasov was inspired to enter the medical field by his mother.
“My mother, who is a nurse, motivated me to be an EMT,” said Pinkhasov. “I kept switching majors, so I took some time off from school. My mom suggested I get into pre-hospital care for the time being, to see if I would like it. I did just that, and here I am today.”
Allyssa Krumm, who double majored in business administration and hospitality and tourism management with a specialty track in tourism management, said her graduation feels surreal.
“Walking across that stage represents all of the hard work that we all had to face,” said Krumm, 22, a violonist and dancer from Ronkonkoma. “Personally, graduating proves that I have what it takes to go out into this crazy world and be whatever I want to be. It is a dream of mine, among many others, that is coming true for me and so many of my fellow graduates.”
Krumm plans to attend law school next semester and later pursue a career as an entertainment lawyer, in order to help musicians and performers get credit for their work.
“I would like to thank my parents, first and foremost,” said Krumm, a member of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority. “There are no words to describe what they have done for me.
“I know I wouldn’t be the same without their guidance,” she continued. “I also would like to thank my best friends. Their constant silliness, ability to make me laugh, and proof of their love has kept me going when I wanted to give up.”
Leading the Class of 2022 graduates were two valedictorians: the Long Island Campus’ Taylor Hanscom, a nursing major planning to pursue a career in critical care nursing and pediatrics, and English major Taylor Slakman from the Brooklyn Campus.
Both graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors, and both were honored at earlier ceremonies on their respective campuses.
Hanscom of Patchogue has raised nearly $20,000 for St. Jude Children’s Hospital since holding her first lemonade stand when she was 10 to benefit the hospital.
Slakman, who during her time at St. Joseph’s used a social media project to spread awareness about human rights issues, will enter a creative writing program in graduate school. She is from Rockaway.
The joy-filled event concluded with the graduates dancing to Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling,” which played as a photo-collage video dedicated to the Class of 2022 was displayed in the arena.
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