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Indoors or Outdoors, Perfect Day Greeted City Tech’s
1,900 Graduates

Mortarboard or model board? City Tech architectural technology graduating seniors show off their creations at commencement.
Photo credit: Alberto Vargas

The weather outside was perfect, clear skies and low humidity. Inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan on Wednesday, it was perfect, too, as 1,900 City Tech students had their degrees conferred upon them at the College’s 70th commencement exercises.

 “I carry the torch for the 39 people who lost their lives in Hurricane Ivan’s devastation of 2004, leading The City University of New York (CUNY) to provide scholarships to citizens of Grenada,” said City Tech’s 2010 valedictorian, 24-year-old Lerone Bleasdille, a recipient of one of the 15 scholarships offered by CUNY and the Grenada Mission.

In his speech, Bleasdille, who graduated with a bachelor of technology degree in computer systems, said that while such people as Gandhi, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had changed the world, he didn’t have to look further than the sea of his fellow graduates for inspiration.

“The works of Student Government, New Tech Times newspaper and the 70-plus clubs on campus inspire me. And fellow graduates, as you sit here today, you may not know it, but you are inspiring others: the young brother or sister, nephew or cousin sitting in the audience watching in awe, wondering when you became so cool.” (Click here for the text of Bleasdille’s entire speech)

Vice President of Enrollment and Student Affairs Marcela Armoza, Student Government Association President Evita Belmonte and 2010 Valedictorian Lerone Bleasdille share a moment before the festivities began.
Photo credit: Alberto Vargas

City Tech President Russell K. Hotzler also acknowledged the College’s 2010 salutatorian Natasha Marcano, 32, who received a BTech degree in communication design. Like the valedictorian, she is an international student born and raised in Trinidad. With the encouragement of her professors, she now has the goal of teaching at the college level.

City Tech’s commencement speaker, New York State Senator Daniel Squadron, said that being in Madison Square Garden made him think about sports and the lessons he’s learned from following two New York teams.

Squadron, who serves the 25th Senatorial District (which includes City Tech), drew some sympathetic laughs when he told of his lifelong love of the Jets and the Knicks, neither of whom has won a championship during his lifetime.

“There are two lessons in these two teams that I have taken with me to the State Senate,” he explained. “The first is that you cannot make choices just based on your chance of winning. You have to choose what you believe in, what excites you.  You have to choose that thing that you will keep working for in the freezing cold on a January day when any sane person would throw up their hands and say, ‘maybe next year.’

“The second legislative lesson that I take from my difficult history of sports fandom is that the only way to achieve success is by working incredibly hard, focusing like a laser on reaching a goal – and having a team. And it’s great to push hard for your own success, but if you’re not part of something bigger than yourself, you won’t go very far.” (Click here for the text of Senator Squadron’s entire speech)

The President’s Award for Service was given to Garey V. Ellis, MD, co-founder and executive director of Brooklyn-based Inner Force Economic Leadership Development Corporation. It gives educationally disadvantaged inner-city children ages 6 to 15 the skills they will need to succeed in college and beyond by offering after-school, weekend and summer enrichment programs and Regents preparatory courses.

Since 2002, Dr. Ellis, who began his college education as a SEEK student at Brooklyn College, has served as director of health services and family and community partnership with the Brooklyn-based Yeled V’Yalda (YVY) Early Childhood Center and co-director of YVY’s Multilingual Development and Education Research Institute.

City Tech President Russell K. Hotzler, in presenting the award to Dr. Ellis, lauded him for his community service work and for being a role model for so many young people.

Dr. Ellis and his wife recently established the Garey V. Ellis, M.D.-Ms. Tomora-Lutreast Ellis Endowed Scholarship Fund at City Tech. The scholarships will be awarded to incoming first-year students, with preference given to those from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds and those who have participated in the Inner Force program.

The commencement included an invocation by Reverend Elizabeth Alexander, pastor, The Church of Gethsemane in Park Slope. Greetings were brought by U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner, CUNY Board of Trustee Member the Honorable Carol A. Robles-Román, CUNY Vice Chancellor for Labor Relations Pamela Silverblatt, City Tech Alumni Association President Yvonne Riley-Tepie ’92 and City Tech Student Government Association President Evita Belmonte, who was part of the Class of 2010.

The largest public college of technology in New York State, New York City College of Technology (City Tech) enrolls more than 15,400 students in 61 baccalaureate, associate and specialized certificate programs. Located at 300 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, City Tech is at the MetroTech Center academic and commercial complex, convenient to public transportation.


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