The new academic year has begun, allowing us to welcome 423 new first-year students from 28 states and 15 countries to Grymes Hill. It’s an exciting time in the life of the College.
But even as we anticipate the accomplishments of the class of 2019, let’s take one more look back at the remarkable students who crossed the stage to receive their well-earned diplomas in May. Wes Moore, acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller The Other Wes Moore, gave a moving address, telling the new graduates that it was now up to them to make their mark. I am pleased to say that they are off to a good start. (You can watch the full video of Wagner commencement online.)
The class of 2015 exemplifies strong academic achievement, solid leadership, and sustained commitment to public service and civic engagement. We recognized many of its members for their scholarly research, academic presentations, performances, civic leadership, and athletic achievements.
“Today’s young leaders seek solutions rather than becoming mired in simple critiques or skepticism.”
The class hailed from 31 states and eight countries. Most came from the traditional route of high school to college, seeking a welcoming place, an engaged campus, a caring faculty, and New York City. But some arrived from different roads — such as Thomas Goodheart of Staten Island. Before coming to Wagner, Thomas served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Okinawa, Japan. A member of Marine Helicopter Squadron 262 (known as the Flying Tigers), he contributed to relief efforts after the 2011 tsunami that hit the main island of Japan. Thomas graduated with a double major in economics and business administration / finance.
Another example is Sandra Minchala, a first-generation American whose family emigrated from Ecuador. While at Wagner, Sandra maintained a four-year GPA of 3.95 in chemistry, while completing scientific field work at the Mayo Clinic and publishing abstracts as a primary author at professional conferences such as the American Geological Society.
Abeer Mishal, another first-generation American whose parents are Palestinian, truly became a global leader while at Wagner. As an IMPACT scholar, president of the Muslim Student Association, a high school democracy coach with Generation Citizen, a volunteer tutor at El Centro del Inmigrante in Staten Island, she used her intelligence and grit across the various cultures that populate Wagner and New York City. She received many special scholarships, not the least of which was from the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women.
Each graduate’s story is unique and very special, and I wish I could tell you every one. Departing Wagner, our graduates were prepared to embark on many new adventures. For the second consecutive year, a Wagner student has earned a Fulbright award. In addition, our students were headed for graduate study at places like the Cornell Veterinary School, Ohio State, New York University, University of California, Washington and Lee, Clemson, Columbia, and American, among others.
Others were headed to impressive positions at a variety of prestigious organizations that include PriceWaterhouse Coopers, JPMorgan Chase, British Petroleum, the Peace Corps, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Disney Cruise Line, among others.
Sharing all of the accomplishments of this senior class makes it clear that its members leave an indelible mark on this campus, boding well for their future and ours. Their commitment to excellence and to ethical leadership is paving the way to solving the seemingly intractable challenges of poverty, ethnic and racial injustice, and environmental crises.
Today’s young leaders seek solutions rather than becoming mired in simple critiques or skepticism. Working with them leaves me feeling very, very hopeful — a hope we can all share and celebrate as we work together toward a better Wagner College in this new year.
— Richard Guarasci, President, Wagner College