MMC Sends Off Its 73rd Graduating Class
Marymount Manhattan celebrated the class of 2022 at its 73rd commencement ceremony on May 20—the College’s first in-person commencement since the coronavirus pandemic began.
It took place at the historic United Palace Theatre, with nearly 2,000 family members and friends attending and many more following the proceedings online.
In her address, President Kerry Walk commended students for achieving their degrees “under the most challenging of circumstances,” with a world dramatically reshaped by COVID. “You have the preparation, the motivation, and the vision to become the creative change makers the world wants and needs you to be right now,” she said.
The College conferred baccalaureate degrees on 195 students; 127 graduated with honors. This year’s class was among MMC’s most regionally diverse, with students hailing from 38 states. Moreover, students represented five countries and a spectrum of ages, with the youngest grad at 20, several in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, and one graduate who is 61.
President Walk also recognized the 63 students graduating from MMC’s prison education programs at the Taconic Correctional Facility and Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Bedford Hills.
Senior Class Speaker Aubreyne Brizette O. Tolentino recalled her first day at the College—made even more exciting because the Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was filming on the street.
“When you enter Marymount spaces, something changes—this energy shifts around you, and you get this wonderful feeling that something magical is going to happen,” she said. She reminded graduates that they would forever remain in the MMC family and that “just because we leave our home on 71st Street, doesn’t mean we don’t have a support system. There will always be mentors, faculty, and your fellow Griffins to fall back on.”
Class valedictorian Shelbi Renee Cornelison ’22 recalled the wise words of a Marymount Manhattan professor that had stuck with her—“the only thing we truly have to give each other in this world is our presence”—and urged the grads to have faith in people and themselves, and “to always treat people with kindness.”
The College also conferred an honorary degree on Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who successfully challenged the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy and profiling of Muslims and established the persecution of LGBTQIA people as a crime against humanity. He reflected on what graduates could learn from the lives of Rosa Parks, who received an honorary degree from MMC in 1981, and Claudette Colvin, a civil rights activist who refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger nine months before Parks, at the age of 15.
“You are poised to move from reading history to making history,” he said, adding that MMC graduates have the opportunity to “make things better for people who are marginalized, who are discarded by our society.”