More than 1,700 degrees were conferred at Stony Brook University’s 25th annual December commencement ceremony, held December 16 at Island Federal Arena.
The December graduates join more than 210,000 Stony Brook alumni around the world.
Executive Vice President and Provost Carl Lejuez delivered the commencement address, noting that he has been inspired by many students — from those who are first in their family to attend college to others following in the footsteps of several generations of Stony Brook alums. “I’ve heard some amazing stories of grit from students who manage their studies while balancing other important parts of their lives such as a campus job, raising a young family, staying in contact with their family in another vulnerable part of the world, and even starting their own company as an entrepreneur,” said Lejuez, adding these exceptional students are determined to make a difference.
“You take the curriculum seriously and think deeply about how what you learn in the classroom has applications in everyday contexts. You are leaders who jump at opportunities to get involved with organizations on campus or to work with community partners across Long Island and beyond. And you are driven. There is a unique sense of urgency and passion among our students, a community who wants to change the world around them for the better.”
In her message to the graduating Class of 2022, Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis said these graduates “reflect the incredible diversity of thought and experience at Stony Brook,” and will be an agent of positive change.
“Our country and our world are at an important moment, standing on the precipice of our collective future, and you are part of the generation of leaders who will determine how we solve our critical contemporary problems,” she said. “We will look to the Class of 2022 for leadership and inspiration, and as a concrete example of how to meet life’s challenges with resilience, grace and hope.”
Michaela Larsen from the Department of Music sang the National Anthem accompanied by a brass quintet featuring Dan Jones and Fangyi Zheng on trumpet, Culley Hamstra on trombone, Taylor Peterson on bass trombone and Alejandro Salaverry on horn. Larsen later sang the university’s alma mater, “Sandy Shore.”
Special guests included United States Senate Majority Leader from New York Charles Schumer, and New York State Assembly members Steven Englebright and Keith Brown.
Schumer addressed the ceremony and advised the Class of 2022 to take risks and not be deterred by a fear of failure, even in an era of “profound economic and social change.”
“The good news about our changing world is this: your generation is better equipped than any before it to adapt to these changes,” he said. “The key is not to fear the unknown. Embrace it, relish it, soak it up and take advantage of every possibility it has to offer.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Rick Gatteau introduced student speaker Xinning Han, a magna cum laude graduate with a bachelor’s of science in applied mathematics and statistics. Han, who greeted his parents who were watching the ceremony livestream from China, encouraged his fellow Seawolves to “be your authentic self.”
“Ditch the ‘to do’ list for today, and make a ‘to be’ list,” Han said. “Take a breath and make peace with yourself. Go out there and be the people we want to become.”
Lejuez concluded his address by reminding the graduates that they represent one of the finest research universities, one that has a national reputation for promoting social mobility while being a powerhouse for supporting the economy on Long Island and across the region.
“You have come to define a new era of scholarship and innovation, one that proceeds with care, with community, and with respect,” he said. “I cannot think of a better and more needed addition to the world. Congratulations to the Class of 2022!”
There were 1,000 undergraduate degrees conferred at the commencement, along with 580 master’s degrees, 100 doctorate and professional degrees, and 75 certificates.