More than 2,300 Graduates Awarded Diplomas at 2016 Berkeley College Commencement Ceremony

MONDAY, MAY 2, 2016
Contact: Ilene Greenfield
Director of Media Relations
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Graduates share stories of overcoming adversity as veterans and nontraditional students shine

Berkeley Mildred Garcia


On April 29, 2016, Berkeley College awarded degrees and certificates to more than 2,300 graduates during its 2016 Commencement ceremony at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The graduating class included 140 military and veteran students and 200 international students. More than 800 students graduated with honors and nearly 400 students earned their degrees online. 

“We live in a time where there are many great needs,” Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College, told the graduates. “There are people who can use our help – who can use your help. The universe is waiting for all your great works. I’m counting on each and every one of you to make good things happen.” 

In honor of the College’s 85th anniversary year, Mildred García, EdD, President of California State University, Fullerton, delivered the Commencement Address and received an honorary Doctor of Pedagogy degree. Dr. García served as the first system-wide president of Berkeley College from 2001 through 2007. She spoke about her educational journey from the projects in Brooklyn, NY, to become the first Latina chief executive in the largest system of public higher education in the United States. 

“I have indeed had to fight, using my mind, my heart, determination, and above all, my education to get to where I am today,” Dr. García said. “But it is my hope, as it was my parents’ hope before me, that through my battles and victories the path for students like you will be riddled with less obstacles and many more opportunities.” 

Jeison Martinez Berkeley CollegeGraduate Jeison Martinez of Dover, NJ, who grew up in poverty in Colombia, received the Robert Maher Award, which is given to a graduate who has overcome personal obstacles. Click here to read Jeison’s story.

Alumnus Edison Jaquez of Perth Amboy, NJ, the founder of two New Jersey mentoring organizations, received the Alumni of the Year award. Click here to read Mr. Jaquez’ story.

Honors scholar Shamira Drakeford of Wood-Ridge, NJ, served as the Student Speaker. Click here to read Ms. Drakeford’s story.

“To the graduating class – now that the door is open, it’s time to choose your path,” Ms. Drakeford said. “This is only the beginning. Graduates, we’ll move mountains.” 

Another graduate was Yasin Bond of Brooklyn, NY, who was inspired to get his degree by his son, Savior. Click here to read Mr. Bond’s story.

Melissa Baralt, PhD, Professor, Math and Sciences, School of Liberal Arts, served as the Faculty Speaker. She shared with the graduates her ABCs of Success: Give Acknowledgement, Be Humble, and Choose Happiness. 

The graduates also heard a video message of encouragement from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. 

Berkeley College graduates join a network of more than 50,000 alumni and receive lifetime career assistance. 

Watch the Ceremony: Click here to watch the full Commencement ceremony. 

Additional Commencement stories: Click here to visit the Berkeley College News Room and read more graduate stories. 

Message from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer: Click here to view his message to the graduates.

A leader in providing career-focused education since 1931, Berkeley College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and enrolls approximately 8,300 students – including more than 700 international students – in its Baccalaureate and Associate degree and Certificate programs. Students can study in more than 20 career fields. Berkeley College is comprised of the Larry L. Luing School of Business®, the School of Professional Studies, the School of Health Studies and the School of Liberal Arts. The School of Graduate Studies offers a Master of Business Administration degree in Management online and in Woodland Park, NJ. 

Berkeley College has three New York campuses – Midtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and White Plains. In New Jersey there are five campuses – Dover, Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park. Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. In 2016, U.S. News & World Report named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, both for the third consecutive year. The website address is

 Berkeley College Alumni of Year Edison Jaquez

Photo Captions: (Top) Mildred García, EdD, President of California State University, Fullerton, delivers the Berkeley College Commencement Address. (Right) Graduate Jeison Martinez receives the Robert Maher Award for overcoming personal obstacles. (Bottom) Edison Jaquez (center) receives the Alumni of the Year award. Pictured (L to R) are Dr. García; Kevin L. Luing, Board Chairman; Mr. Jaquez; Michael Iris, Senior Director, Alumni Relations and Online Career Services; and Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College.

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To view high-resolution versions of these photos, visit Photo A, Photo B, Photo C.


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