-- Higgins' lifelong connection to the college was fostered by his mother, a single working parent in whose memory he established a scholarship --
March 20, 2019, Queens, NY — Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez has announced that alumnus Matt Higgins will be the main speaker for the school's 95th commencement ceremony, which will take place on Thursday, May 30, at 9 a.m. Higgins, who grew up in Bayside, Queens, graduated with a BA in political science in 1998. He is cofounder and CEO of the private investment firm RSE Ventures, as well as vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins. Higgins made his debut in 2018 as a shark on the ABC-TV reality show "Shark Tank." He also supports parents who are taking classes at the college through the Linda Higgins Empowerment Scholarship, which he established in honor of his late mother Linda Higgins, a QC alumna. Scholarship recipients are among the graduating class of 2019.
"It brings me great joy to invite stellar alumni like Matt Higgins back to their home campus in the role of commencement speaker," says Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. "It's a unique opportunity for our students—on the brink of a new life chapter—to hear from individuals like Matt who used his Queens College education to build an extraordinary career and, like Matt, as a means to give back to the community. By recognizing Matt's accomplishments, we also celebrate those of his mother, Linda, a Queens College graduate. Today, Matt's scholarship program honors his roots while making success stories like his possible for the next generation."
"The foundation of my entire career was poured at Queens College, so it is incredibly meaningful for me to come full circle and celebrate the 2019 graduating class as commencement speaker," Higgins said. "At a time in my life that was marked by abject poverty, my earliest memories are of this wonderful campus, which served as a beacon of hope for my family. Before my mother lost her health battles, Queens College conferred upon her more than just degrees and diplomas; it affirmed her dignity and self-respect. To so many who work their way through school, or who battle struggles at home, or who summon the will to return to college after years of prolonged absence, this is an oasis; it is a place where the promise of an excellent education is not contingent on means, but on mettle."
Higgins dropped out of high school at age 16 and obtained his graduate equivalency diploma (GED) to enter Queens College early. He knew the campus well. When he was 9 years old, his mother—who earned her GED as an adult—brought him with her on Saturdays to her classes in Powdermaker Hall. Linda Higgins was a gifted writer, which inspired Higgins to work as an award-winning journalist at the Queens Tribune while he was an undergraduate. He and his brother Todd, who also attended Queens College, served as alternating presidents of the campus Forensics Society. While serving as the youngest mayoral press secretary in the history of New York City, Higgins attended Fordham Law School at night, earning his JD in 2002.
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, he served as the chief operating officer of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the agency charged with rebuilding the World Trade Center site.
Now as CEO of investment firm RSE Ventures, cofounded with Stephen Ross, Higgins helps build companies across sports and entertainment, media and marketing, food and lifestyle, and technology.
About Queens College
Queens College graduates the most teachers, counselors, and principals serving in New York City public schools. The college contributes to the local talent pool as a powerful economic engine and a leader in tech education, with more computer science majors than any college in New York City. Students from across the country and around the world are attracted to study at the Aaron Copland School of Music. Its renowned faculty and alumni include nationally recognized composers, conductors and performers who have received over 100 Grammy Awards and nominations.
Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the college helps its nearly 20,000 students realize their potential in countless ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college is cited each year in the Princeton Review as one of the nation's 100 "Best Value" colleges, as well as being ranked a U.S. News and World Report Best College and Forbes Magazine Best Value College thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. Visit our homepage to learn more.