–Ninety-Ninth ceremony will recognize New York State Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, who will deliver the main commencement address, and Judith Heumann, “mother of the disability rights movement,” posthumously, with Queens College President’s Medals–

May 24, 2023

MEDIA RSVP TO Linda.Pacheco@qc.cuny.edu. Please click HERE here to download honoree photos.

WHAT:  Queens College President Frank H. Wu will preside over the college’s 99th commencement exercises, which will recognize over 5,000 degree candidates. In total, the college will award just over 5,100 undergraduate and graduate degrees this year to candidates from summer and fall 2022, and winter and spring 2023.​ An estimated audience of 8,000 is expected.

WHEN:  Thursday, June 1, 2023, at 9 am | WATCH the full commencement ceremony HERE

WHERE:  Queens College Quadrangle—Rain or Shine | 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing, NY
Media parking is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please sign in with press credentials at the media tent, stage left, for reserved seating. Directions | Campus Map

WHO:  Actor, writer, director, and producer Jon Favreau, a Flushing native, who attended the college from 1984 to 1987, will receive the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, Honoris Causa. With breakthrough acting roles on “Seinfeld” and “Friends,” Favreau became a familiar face on screen, working steadily as an actor since 1992. His performances range from romantic comedy to drama and action adventures, and they span television, indie films, blockbusters, and voice acting for animation. Favreau is recognized as a writer, director, producer, and executive producer whose work consists of films known around the world, including Elf, Zathura, Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Cowboys and Aliens, Chef, The Jungle Book, and The Lion King. He is a key industry influencer through the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has broken new ground with recent projects created through his television production company, serving as writer and creator, sometime director, and executive producer of the critically acclaimed series “The Mandalorian” and its spin-off, “The Book of Boba Fett.” Favreau’s work has been recognized with the Saturn Visionary Award, a Filmmaker Award from the Cinema Audio Society, and the Dragon Award. He is an inductee into the prestigious Disney Legends Hall of Fame and he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Favreau received the lifetime achievement award from the Visual Effects Society in 2019.

New York State Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado is the keynote speaker and will be recognized with the Queens College President’s Medal. Delgado, who earned a BA in philosophy and political science at Colgate University, was named a Rhodes Scholar. He completed an MA in philosophy, politics, and economics at Queen’s College, University of Oxford, and a JD at Harvard Law School. He founded an independent record label, Statik Music, and released an album of conscious rap titled “Painfully Free.” He has worked in complex commercial litigation at one of the nation’s top law firms while working pro bono for criminal justice reform. In 2018, Delgado became the first person of color elected to the U.S. Congress from upstate New York, representing New York’s largely suburban and rural 19th Congressional District. In 2022, he was appointed, then elected as lieutenant governor of New York, becoming the first person of Latino descent to hold statewide office. Delgado served on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee on Small Business and was chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit. Eighteen of his bills were signed into law under two different presidents, including the Family Farmer Relief Act, the Strengthening Financial Aid for Students Act, and the Improving Benefits for Underserved Veterans Act. During the pandemic, he secured federal support for frontline and essential workers and small businesses. He is a two-time recipient of the Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The Queens College President’s Medal will be presented posthumously to Judith Heumann; Rick Heumann, the honoree’s brother, will accept it. Recognized throughout the world as a powerful voice, activist, and inspiration in the struggle for disability rights, Heumann was so influential that she was often described as “the mother of the disability rights movement.” Born in Philadelphia, the daughter of German Jews sent to this country as children in the 1930s to escape the Nazi regime, she contracted polio at 18 months, requiring her to use a wheelchair for most of the rest of her life. The resulting denial of admission to kindergarten, followed by years of her mother’s increasingly successful campaign for accommodation in public school, marked the foundation of Heumann’s lifelong efforts advocating for those with disabilities. As a result of her 1970 civil rights suit to obtain a teaching license in New York—the first such suit brought in federal court—she became the first wheelchair user to teach in New York City schools. As a legislative assistant in the U.S. Senate, Heumann helped develop the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, which became the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. She was a leader of a grass-roots protest that compelled California’s acceptance of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities by any institution receiving federal money. This paved the way for the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Internationally, Heumann helped shape the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She founded, led, and supported the work of organizations for disability and human rights, including Disabled in Action, the groundbreaking Center for Independent Living, and the World Institute on Disability. Heumann received government, nongovernmental, and other appointments, including as the Clinton administration’s assistant secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services at the U.S. Department of Education; the World Bank Group’s first advisor on disability and development; special advisor to the U.S. State Department on international disability rights; and senior fellow at the Ford Foundation. Heumann earned a BA in speech and theatre at Long Island University in 1969, and a master’s in public health at the University of California at Berkeley in 1975.

INVITED SPEAKERS: New York City Mayor Eric Adams; Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Jr.; New York City Council Member James Gennaro; and CUNY Board of Trustees Vice Chair Sandra Wilkin. U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer to send video greetings. 

President Frank H. Wu quote to graduates: “No matter what path you choose, I encourage you to keep learning and growing. Life is a never-ending process of adapting, and I hope that you use your time here as a foundation to continue to build upon. As you leave Queens College, I urge you to think critically and challenge what is familiar to you. Ask questions, think outside the box, and explore new and exciting ideas. The world is ever-changing, and it is up to you to seize the opportunity to shape it for the better. And please always remember the motto of Queens College: ‘We Learn So That We May Serve.’”

Student Andrea Garcia will address the graduates. Garcia is graduating summa cum laude with a major in political science and a minor in legal studies. She has interned in the offices of State Senator John Liu, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, and U.S. Representative Grace Meng. She also interned with the Central American Refugee Center, helping provide free legal services for immigrants. After graduation, Garcia plans to work as a paralegal and apply to law school in the fall, with the goal of becoming an immigration attorney.

The student commencement speaker is one of two recipients of the Paul Klapper Scholarship, the college’s highest honor for graduating seniors. It is provided annually by the staff of Queens College and other friends in memory of the school’s first president and intended to encourage scholarly accomplishment, moral and intellectual integrity, and good citizenship. The College Committee on Honors and Awards selects the student speaker based on criteria that include high grades and other forms of academic achievement, leadership, community service, breadth of courses taken, as well as evidence of originality, creativity, and promise of future contributions to society.

At the college’s Tuesday, May 30, Baccalaureate—a commencement-related event focusing on student achievement—Noel Hankin ’68 will be recognized with the Queens College President’s Medal, the school’s highest administrative honor. The ceremony will take place at 7 pm in Colden Auditorium. Hankin, known as a champion of African American culture and opportunity, helped found The Best of Friends, Inc., a pioneering business enterprise that promoted discotheques in New York City. It owned three of the first black-owned clubs in midtown Manhattan, which were among those that paved the way for Studio 54, Saturday Night Fever, and the nationwide explosion of discos in the late ‘70s. He is a retired senior executive who has managed brands at Moët Hennessy USA and Miller Brewing Company. He helped found the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which prepares students for career success through leadership training and financial scholarships. Hankin was a Clinton board of advisors appointee on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and a trustee of the City University Construction Fund. He earned a BA from Queens College, a marketing certificate from the Wharton School of Business, and holds an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Medgar Evers College.

The Baccalaureate student speaker is Tenzin Namgyal. Namgyal, a Klapper scholarship recipient, is graduating summa cum laude with a double major in philosophy and political science. She has worked with the Knight News student newspaper; was the treasurer of the Political Science Club; and participated in NYPIRG, the New York Public Interest Research Group, spearheading a voter registration drive on campus. She hopes to pursue a PhD in philosophy.

Yael Simon
 is a political science major graduating with honors this spring. She received hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship offers from law schools and will be attending New England Law this fall on a full scholarship worth over $150,000. In addition to her studies and law school application preparation, Simon has spent the last four years working at a law office in Queens, dealing most closely with matrimonial cases of divorce, protection orders, and child support. She has also been an invaluable resource for the pre-law program during her internship this semester, working with other pre-law students on their applications and helping Sari Kisilevsky (Philosophy) create a database of pre-law student successes.

Nathalie Ponce, a first-generation college student, graduated on the Dean’s List with a degree in political science in 2020. She played viola with the Aaron Copland School of Music String Ensemble and has sung all over the world, including for the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclay’s Center and for New York City Mayor Eric Adams. She will be attending Drexel University School of Law in Philadelphia on a scholarship worth over $100,000. She has already joined LaLSA, the Latinx Law Students Association at Drexel University, and is getting a head start by enrolling in Drexel’s SummerStart, a program allowing 1L students to take law school classes in the summer. Ponce can’t wait to return to Queens with her law credentials so she can use them to help members of her community.

Erin Foo is graduating summa cum laude from Macaulay Honors College, majoring in communication science and disorders, and minoring in psychology and honors in the social sciences. Erin was vice president of the Speech Language and Hearing Association, vice president of Campus Affairs for the Macaulay Scholars Council, conducted research in the Bilingual Literacy Lab, and participated in the CUNY Reading Corp. Next year Foo will pursue a masters in speech pathology. 

Rolanda Coleman, a first-generation college student who transferred from LaGuardia Community College, graduated from QC with a master’s in history in winter 2021. She is a passionate disability rights activist and a self-professed member of the “Black Nerd Delegation,” a name she made up for Black students like herself who love learning and being challenged. Learning to advocate for herself and identify her strengths was part of the process for Coleman. She is weighing scholarship offers from CUNY Law School, Fordham School of Law, Brooklyn Law School, and Albany Law School, and is waiting to hear from other schools. She is eager to get started in 1L and achieve her ultimate goal of becoming a judge.

Elizabeth Durand is the Wilbur E. Gilman Scholarship recipient. Durand graduated summa cum laude with a major in English and a minor in honors in the humanities. As the mother of an autistic child, she has served as a PTA president and member of the School Leadership Team and won an award for her advocacy for District 75 students. Durand is currently earning a master’s degree here at QC and plans to pursue a PhD in English.

Aitan Rosner will receive the Charlotte and Howard Knag Scholarship. Rosner is graduating summa cum laude with a major in political science and a minor in history. Rosner participated in the National Society of Leadership and Success, the Philosophy Club, and the Pre-Law Association, and interned with a justice of the Queens County Supreme Court. Rosner will be attending law school in the fall.

Stephanie Szpylka is graduating summa cum laude with a double major in quantitative economics and mathematics, and minors in computer science and honors in the social sciences. She is president of the Ikaros Hellenic Orthodox Club, interned for QC’s Tech Incubator, and has worked as a teaching assistant and tutor for various courses. Szpylka will be working for JP Morgan Chase and also attending graduate school. She has already been accepted at Cornell and Stanford.



Maria Matteo

Media and College Relations