By Jada Butler
Students in the class of 2019 from LIU Post, Brentwood and Riverhead celebrated their graduation at the university’s 61st commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 10. The undergraduate ceremony was moved from the Bethpage Federal Credit Union stadium to the Pratt Recreation Center gymnasium due to warnings of inclement weather.
The ceremony began with the academic procession lead by Grand Marshal Cara Gargano, the chair of the theater, dance, and arts management department. The invocation was delivered by Rabbi Yaakov Gruenstein, followed by a performance of the national anthem by 2019 graduate Rebecca Engel.
This year’s co-valedictorian Gianna Boscarino, graduating Summa Cum Laude, gave a moving speech to her fellow classmates about the steps that brought them to where they are today. “As we grow older, finding the time to celebrate the small victories becomes harder to do. We aim high and we set ground rules for ourselves, and while of course this is not necessarily a bad thing, often times we become so focused on the bigger picture, that we forget to celebrate all the achievements we make along the way,” she said.
Board of trustees chairman Eric Krasnoff was given an honorary degree as a doctor of business. Krasnoff was elected chairman of the board in 2014, and served on the board since 1992. He also chairs the the university’s planning committee and is invested in the university’s strategic plan.
The commencement keynote address was delivered by New York Senator Chuck Schumer. The congressman shared fond anecdotes of his challenges at Harvard, and how his path in life started with the freshman basketball team, but lead him to pursue politics with the simple words, “Okay, I’ll do it.” Schumer encouraged the class of 2019 to take every opportunity that comes their way, as they may never know where it can lead.
The conferring of degrees began with Post’s college of liberal arts & sciences, followed by the college of management (school of business, school of computer science, innovation and management engineering, school of professional accountancy), the college of education, information and technology, the college of arts, communications and design, and the school of health professions and nursing. Then the students from Brentwood and Riverhead were conferred.
The class of 2019 was Post’s last class to graduate as green & gold Pioneers, as the Brooklyn and Post campuses will unite in fall 2019 as One LIU under division one sports, changing the university’s colors on both campuses to a unified blue & gold with a new mascot of either a shark, falcon, or an eagle.
Shanice Arthur, who graduated with a bachelors in psychology, said the change is odd. “It feels weird knowing [that] when I come back to visit that everything would have changed. No more green and gold, no more pioneers. It’ll just feel really weird.” Arthur says she will miss her friends and teammates on the tennis team the most. She looks forward to pursuing a masters in forensic psychology, possibly at John Jay College.
Anand Venigalla, who graduated Summa Cum Laude and served as a student marshal, feels bittersweet. “I’m glad to be a part of the close of a tradition, and at the same time begin a new part of my life,” he said. Venigalla is taking a year off to travel, and eventually go for a masters or law degree.
Turning the tassel from right to left was more than just a symbol of transitioning from candidate to graduate; as the class of 2019 join a network of LIU alumni, they leave behind the final legacy of the green & gold that has been a part of Post’s identity for 61 years.