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May 27, 2009

St. Francis College Celebrates Spring Commencement

Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke Delivers Commencement Speech

It was a day of celebration for the friends and family of more than 300 students at the spring 2009 St. Francis College Commencement on Wednesday May 27 at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge. The group includes the second class of Accounting Graduate Students in school history. Several hundred people who were unable to attend viewed the ceremony live on the St. Francis College website.

This year’s valedictory address delivered by Education Major Amanda Krol combined hope, sadness and warm reflections on her time at St. Francis College. Amanda, a member of the College’s Education Society, Vice-President of the local chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, an international education honor society and member of the St. Francis College Duns Scotus Honors Society, spoke about the death of her cousin Kevin last year, whose 29th birthday would have been on graduation day. She made special mention of one of her Education Professors, Peter Leibman, who left a supportive voicemail on her phone. “[He] had noticed that I wasn’t myself in class and appeared as though I was carrying a weight on my shoulders. Dr. Leibman reminded me that a successful teaching career was in the near future and encouraged me to keep moving towards my goals… I thought of how rare it is to have a professor who cares enough about his students to make a simple phone call,” she said. (Click to Watch the full address / Click to Read the full Address)

Amanda is already focusing on using her education to give back. As a student teacher she was part of a program that sent her to two high need schools here in Brooklyn. She passed all her certification exams and hopes to begin teaching in the fall. But before that, over the summer she will begin graduate work at Hofstra in the Teaching of Writing Master’s Degree Program

Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke delivered the commencement address and was also awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the College. She told the graduates that in a year when Barack Obama became President and when, “Sonia Sotomayor was raised up to be Supreme Court Justice you graduated from St. Francis College. This is the environment that you have to work with. So many before you could not have thought they would live to see a day when the value of each and every human being is being acknowledged. In every endeavor across the board, excellence is being rewarded based on that person’s ability. So you know what happens? You have no excuses. You can make things happen.” (Click to Watch the Full Speech)

Representative Clarke is a Brooklyn native and product of the New York City Public School System. As representative of New York's 11th Congressional District, Rep. Clarkes’s voting record serves as a reflection of her philosophy that government should serve to protect people, uplift local communities and build bridges that bring everyone together

The College also awarded honorary doctorates to alumnus Edward Travaglianti ’70, President of TD Bank Long Island and Reverend Monsignor John J. Bracken of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.

Mr. Travaglianti began his career as a management trainee at Franklin National Bank which was later acquired by European American Bank. Over the next 31 years he diligently worked in various roles eventually becoming Chairman and CEO. After Citibank’s acquisition of EAB, he was appointed President of the newly formed Commercial Markets Group with responsibility for Citibank’s nationwide Middle Market and Small Business activities. In 2004 he was named President of Commerce Bank Long Island and was later appointed to his current position after TD Bank acquired Commerce Bank. Reflecting his Franciscan roots and the importance of service to others, Mr. Travaglianti has put his leadership skills and expertise to good use serving on numerous boards, including at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola New York, Cop-Shot, of which he is a founding member and the Pall Corporation. A long time supporter of his alma mater, Mr. Travaglianti founded the annual Meadow Brook Golf Outing which has raised more than $1 million dollars for scholarships at the College in the past ten years. His involvement with the College and his enthusiasm for the students is unwavering. Mr. Travaglianti continually advocates on behalf of the students of St. Francis College and serves as a role model and mentor.

A lifetime son of Queens, and graduate of Cathedral College, Monsignor Bracken has spent his entire priestly life in the service of others. Ordained in 1967, he served as a parochial vicar in several parishes where he was revered for his pastoral caring and unceasing concern for the well-being of his parishioners. In 1984, he began his long services as an administrator of the Diocese of Brooklyn when asked by Bishop Francis J. Mugavero to become an Episcopal Vicar. His outstanding stewardship as well as his farsighted administrative and management skills serve as models for other dioceses in the country. Under his leadership the Brooklyn diocese was able to both manage its investments wisely as well as raise more than $100 million to support activities in parishes, schools and catholic charities through the Alive in Hope Foundation and the Bishop Annual Support Appeal. Monsignor Bracken also helped implement Bishop Thomas V. Daily’s Jubilee Year inspired debt forgiveness program which retired more than $150 million in debt owed by financially pressed parishes, most of them in the inner city. Under Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, he also reformed the Priests Pension plan, guaranteeing financial security for priests who have served in the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Among the students graduating are:

Careen Fletcher is a Chemistry and Physics Major with a minor in Biology. She will be attending University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), and hopes to pursue a career in orthodontics. Careen is a member of the College’s Duns Scotus Honors Society, having been on the Dean’s List every semester at St. Francis and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She also won an academic excellence scholarship from the Trinidad and Tobago Alliance and is a member of the Caribbean Student Association and Chemistry Club. Careen was one of only ten people chosen from hundreds of applicants to intern last summer at North Carolina State University where she did chemical research, focusing on the hydrosilation of aldehydes and ketones.

Joseph Neri is a Communication Arts Major with a concentration in Film and Broadcasting and graduated Cum Laude. In addition to his studies, Joey also worked for the department helping other students with their film and broadcasting projects. He hopes to parlay his internships for a production company that makes documentaries for MTV and for Nickelodeon into a career in film that ultimately leads to directing feature films. His first step in that direction is a job as a production assistant with Nick at Nite.

Sonia Gutkin is a Political Science and Economics double major. She is President of the Duns Scotus Honors Society, graduated Summa Cum Laude and is set to attend New York Law School in the fall. Sonia is a member of the Model UN Club, which prompted her to intern for the real United Nations on Manhattan’s east side. She also served as an intern for the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, DC through a prestigious program run by Georgetown University.

Salvatore Demma is an Economics major with a concentration in Finance and a double minor in both Accounting and Communications. He was awarded the JP Morgan Chase Thomas G. Labrecque Smart Start Scholarship, a four year full tuition scholarship and paid internship. Sal could have attended any top name university in New York City with that full scholarship, but of them all, he chose St. Francis. Sal will next take part in a three-month training program at the Chase Commercial Bank Headquarters in Chicago before returning to New York to work as a Commercial Bank Analyst. He was President of the Economics Society, the local chapter of Omicron Delta Epsilon International Honor Society for Economics and participated in the Federal Reserve Challenge, a competition in which groups of students present their economic research and forecasts to members of the New York Federal Reserve. Sal is a member of the Duns Scotus Honors Society, graduated Summa Cum Laude and received The Gerard F. Doyle Memorial Medal for Excellence in Economics.

Photos: (Valedictorian Amanda Krol)
(From L-R: St. Francis College President Brendan J. Dugan,
Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, St. Francis College Board of Trustees Chairman John F. Tully)
(From L-R:
St. Francis College President Brendan J. Dugan, Edward Travaglianti, St. Francis College Board of Trustees Chairman John F. Tully)
(From L-R: St. Francis College Chancellor Frank J. Macchiarola, St. Francis College President Brendan J. Dugan, Reverend Monsignor John J. Bracken, St. Francis College Board of Trustees Chairman John F. Tully)

St. Francis College, founded in 1859 by the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, is located in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. Since its founding, the College has pursued its Franciscan mission to provide an affordable, high-quality education to students from New York City’s five boroughs and beyond.
St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

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