In Pursuit of the Big Ideas: Stony Brook Honors Fourth Annual 40 Under Forty

Fourth Annual 40 Under Forty Honorees
Stony Brook graduates distinguish themselves with an empowered spirit and passionate engagement with the world’s great issues, empowering them to reach across boundaries and break through expectations. On January 9, Stony Brook honored a group of alumni who embody those ideals during the University’s fourth annual
40 Under Forty celebration.

In a wide range of fields that spans business, health care, law, science, athletics, the arts and beyond, these remarkable Stony Brook grads are challenging previous norms and boundaries, with wildly successful results.

Nearly 200 alumni, former honorees, family and friends joined Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. to celebrate the event at Tribeca Rooftop in New York City.

“It’s clear that I don’t need to tell you about the power of a Stony Brook education,” President Stanley told the honorees. “When I look at the talent assembled here tonight, it gives me optimism for the future.”

Guest student speaker and Corey Foundation Scholar Shane Ford ’17, ’18 has drawn on inspiration from successful Stony Brook alumni in pursuing his own dreams. “Each and every one of you is a testament to the power and versatility of a Stony Brook education,” said Ford, who earned his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry this past May and is currently pursuing his master’s at Stony Brook. “To be able to call myself a Stony Brook alum, and include myself in a group that includes all of you is an honor that I cannot fully express.”

For Chris Vaccaro ’11, editor-in-chief for the Topps Company, being part of the group of honorees gives a unique view of the scope of Stony Brook’s impact on the world.

“What means the most to me is to be honored by a university with a great tradition in math and science,” Vaccaro said, “while I have a job in entertainment and sports. It’s very humbling to be considered part of the 40 Under Forty with so many people in varying disciplines compared to what I actually do. It was a beautiful night to talk to everyone, and see how Stony Brook is at the core of our interests, and how it’s helped shape so many people.”

Included in the 40 Under Forty Class of 2017 are Morgan Cato ’04 ’05, Director of Business Operations – League Operations for the NBA; Perumal Gandhi ’14, co-founder of Perfect Day Foods; Ilfenesh Hadera ’07, star of ABC’s upcoming show Deception; the Honorable Kimberly Jean-Pierre ’07, New York State Assemblywoman from the 11th District; and Momina Mustehsan ’15, Pakistani Singer and Songwriter.

“Since its inception four years ago, the 40 Under Forty awards program has honored the University’s most creative and bold young professionals,” said Stony Brook Alumni Association President Bedel Saget ’88. “I’m so proud to call you my fellow alumni.”

For the full list of this year’s and past years’ honorees, visit Stony Brook’s 40 Under Forty website.

Each year the University solicits nominations of alumni age 40 and under who are making exceptional contributions in their respective professions or in their communities and who reflect the impact of a Stony Brook degree. For more information, visit

Click here to view photos from the event.

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