By Norma Borges
Albizu University culminated this month another year of academic successes with its commencement ceremonies in Miami and San Juan. The graduation at the Miami Campus was held on October 9 while the ceremony in San Juan took place on October 20. Both ceremonies took place in a festive atmosphere. The participants and guests enjoyed the music and expressed their excitement and happiness. Members of the faculty, administrative personnel and members of the Board of Trustees shared the joy of the students, their families and friends.
At the ceremony in San Juan, the Interim President Sylvia López-Jorge, CPA, and the Interim Provost Dr. Daniel Martínez Ortiz, granted 287 diplomas to students completing their bachelor, master and doctoral degrees in disciplines related to the sciences of behavior and well-being. For the first time in the history of the university, they also granted graduate certificates in autism and master´s degrees in School Psychology. The ceremony was held in the Miramar Convention Center.
At the Miami Campus, Provost Dr. Etiony Aldarondo granted diplomas to 300 students from 22 countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, United States and Venezuela. The multicultural nature of the Miami Campus was quite in evidence during its joyful commencement ceremony at the James L. Knight Center in Miami. Both ceremonies started at 10 in the morning.
At the San Juan Campus´ commencement ceremony, Dr. Miguel Martínez Lugo had the honour of carrying the institutional ¨mazo¨ while Dr. Juan Nazario Serrano served as master of ceremonies. Dr. Nazario Serrano acknowledged the presence of special guests Hon. Edgardo Rivera García, Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico; Mairís Amanda Casagnoi Cornier, legal officer of Associate Judge Rivera García; Honorable Marshal D. Morgan, Assistant Federal Prosecutor; and Dr. Marta Rodríguez, professional counselor of the Department of Graduate Studies at the Education Faculty of the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus.
The presence of these guests was due to the special recognition granted by the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico to Jeannette Vázquez Berríos, who graduated from the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. The Honorable José Luis López Muñoz, on behalf of the Legislature, acknowledged the contribution made by Dr. Vázquez Berríos through her dissertation on sex trafficking.
In Miami, Dr. Ailema Frigerio was master of ceremonies at the James L. Knight Center while Dr. Edward Heyden carried the institutional ¨mazo¨. Dr. Regina Melchor, member of the Miami faculty, surprised everybody singing the National Anthem. In San Juan did so tenor Fabián Robles.
SPEECHES, QUITE A LOT OF EMOTION AND SEFLIES GALORE
Dr. Etiony Aldarondo gave a very enthusiastic speech at the Miami Campus´s
Commencement Ceremony. His words provoked excitement in the audience because he encouraged everyone to ¨treasure the moment¨ by taking a selfie.
"How many of you (students, family, friends, faculty, Trustees) brought cell phones with you today? I want you to take them out and if they are off please turn them on. Now, I want you to take a selfie and post it on your Facebook account. It you have a twitter account you may also twit your friends. Tell them that this is a very happy day in your life. If you are a student tell them that today you are graduating from Albizu University. Parents, relatives, friends, faculty, and trustees, tell the world that you are at the 2015 Albizu University Commencement Ceremony celebrating the accomplishments of your daughters, sons, spouses, friends, and students. Please go ahead take the selfies and send them now that was fun. Wasn’t it?”, said Dr. Aldarondo to the audience. The exercise became a memorable moment.
Interim President Sylvia López-Jorge spoke at both commencement ceremonies. She congratulated the graduates and thanked them for choosing Albizu University to pursue their studies. She also quoted the words pronounced in 1983 by Dr. Carlos Albizu Miranda, founder of our university, at the last graduation he attended: ¨Knowing that our personal welfare depends on the welfare of others, one has to share the best of what life gives us, without expecting any reward other than the pleasure of being supportive and the knowledge that we are loved and can love in return.¨
STUDENTS LEADERS SPEAK AT THE CEREMONIES
The Presidents of the Students Councils at both campuses also delivered speeches at the ceremonies. The President of the San Juan Campus´s Student Council, Ana M. Quiñones Maldonado, thanked, on behalf of all her peers, the valuable support they received from their families.
Meanwhile, Vicente Murgado, President of the Miami Campus´s Student Council, addressed the graduates who will return to their countries of origin. "Although many of you come from different countries, today we are here as members of a single group, that of the great family of Albizu University. Your teachers as well as your fellow students will be sorry to see you go. But we are happy for you at the start of this journey. I congratulate you for all you have accomplished. All of you inspire us and fill us with enthusiasm. I hope that your achievements make you proud and give you a sense of fulfillment,¨ said Murgado.
AGENTS OF CHANGE
The 2015 graduating class asked Viviana Padilla Martínez, who pursued a doctoral degree in the Clinical Psychology program, to read a message from the group. “I know that we are graduating in uncertain times. The country´s economic situation, the lack of a suitable revalidation for psychologists in Puerto Rico, the news about psychologists from the APA involved in interrogation methods that have been described as torture, among other situations, make us question the role we will play as agents of change in our Island and other countries. As far as I am concerned, psychologists have to be involved in the search for solutions to the problems our country faces,¨ said Padilla Martínez.
(Search images in Instagram; universidad_albizu - #ucagradsj2015)
DISTINGUISHED 2015 GRADUATE
During the commencement ceremony at the San Juan Campus, Dr. Miguel Vázquez received an award as 'Distinguished 2015 graduate.' In his speech he expressed his thanks for the award and also encouraged the graduates to begin their careers with an optimistic outlook. ¨It behooves us, as health professionals, to give back to the public what is rightfully theirs: health and social welfare. Here I am urging you not to fall into collective hysteria, defeatist thoughts or socialized despair. We need to roll up our sleeves, tie up our skirts and put an end to false ideas. We have the capacity, training, knowledge and experience to be able to participate in the process of healing our society," said Vázquez.
During the ceremony at the San Juan Campus, several students received medals in recognition of their academic achievements. The students were Adlín Román Torres (Graduate Certificate in Autism); Ada López González (BA of Science with a major in Speech-language Pathology); Emanuel Colón Rodríguez (Master of Science in School Psychology); Marieliz Berio Roussel (Maestría of Science in Counseling Psychology); Isamar González Rivera (Master of Science in Speech-language Pathology); Azaret Mariel Pérez Laracuente (Master of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology) and María del Mar Meléndez (Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology).
At the Miami Campus the students receiving medals for their academic achievements were Yoanna Ramírez (2015 Distinguished Bachelor of Arts Award); Dane Brown (2015 Distinguished Bachelor of Business Administration Award); Karolina Betancourt Moreno (2015 Distinguished Bachelor of Science Award); Orlando Martin (2015 Distinguished Master of Business Administration); Patricia Iturriaga (2015 Distinguished Industrial and Organizational Psychology Award); Maydeline Quintero (2015 Distinguished Master of Science in Psychology Award); Sanaa Mrabet (2015 Distinguished Doctor of Psychology Award).
The 587 students who graduated this year from both campuses expressed their joy at the commencement ceremonies as well as their commitment and readiness to offer the world their best according to the principles postulated by Dr. Albizu Miranda 50 years ago.
Congratulations to all of you!