Tag Archives: commencement 2017

Highlights From Macaulay’s 2017 Commencement

The Class of 2017 proudly celebrated the end of their years of scholarship at Macaulay Honors College on June 12, 2017. A highlight of their commencement was the keynote speaker Garry Trudeau, creator of the Doonesbury comic strip and the first such artist to win a Pulitzer Prize. Trudeau also received a Honorary Doctor of Letters degree following his address.

Garry Trudeau Commencement Speech

photo of Macaulay, Trudeau
(l-r) William Macaulay, Garry Trudeau, Dean Pearl and Ayodele Oti

Said Macaulay Dean Mary C. Pearl, Ph.D.: “With a keen eye and sharp sense of humor, Trudeau has tackled difficult subjects ranging from mental health to military intervention to the battle lines of personal and political conflict that have challenged our society over the past five decades. His thoughtful approach, his sensitivity, and his deep civic engagement exemplify Macaulay’s highest ideals.”

photo of student speaker Stephin Jose
Stephin Jose, Student Speaker

Among the other noteworthy speakers was William Thompson, the new Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The City University of New York; student speakers Stephin Jose (City College) and Aissatou Diallo (Hunter College); and alumna Ayodele Oti ’12 (City College).

Macaulay’s commencement this year took place at the United Palace Theater in Upper Manhattan and accommodated hundreds of graduates and their families. Performers and music for the ceremony included the Lehman College Wind Ensemble and The Macaulet Triplets singing group. Macaulay seniors also were selected as valedictorians and salutatorians at their home campus, including:

Ellianna Schwab (City College)
Palwasha Syar (CSI)
Daniela Mikhaylov and Rina Schiller (Hunter)
Caitlin Larsen (Baruch College)

Michael Franco (Brooklyn)
Naomi Gaggi and Vincent Jost (CSI)


Macaulay Profile ’17: Ruby Cabuya (Lehman College)

photo of Ruby Cabuya
Ruby Cabuya

Leave it to a Macaulay student to take the practical approach of majoring in accounting and merging it with a love of music. That’s what Ruby Cabuya did and she even wrote a thesis about it called “The Balance Between Passion and Career.” Also as part of her thesis presentation, Ruby gave a piano recital.

“Music meant different things to me at different times. But as I reflect on this last semester, I think music is a way to reach out to people. I play music to remind my fellow college students that you can feel successful in anything you do. Macaulay students always have something to prove as honor students. But I believe that you can be successful by doing the things you like, whether or not they’ll receive awards.”

Ruby grew up in Woodside, Queens to Filipino parents, who are also both accountants. Their observations as new immigrants helped open her eyes to both cultures.

“My parents would point out things/behaviors I would bring home, and regard them as ‘American.’ I would then ask them how it would be done ‘Filipino style’, and they would tell me. I learned about their upbringing that way.”

Her parents also instilled in Ruby, pre-smartphones, to always carry a calculator with her. As her dad put it, “You’ll never know when you need to solve a fun math problem!”

Ruby graduates from Lehman cum laude and has been on the Dean’s List for each of her four years.  Besides music, her second minor is Japanese language in which she hopes to achieve a certificate of proficiency; she also studied abroad in Japan. Ruby has had time to be co-captain of the Macaulay Dancers, and also was a member of the Lehman College Bollywood dancers; she was in the viola section of the Lehman College Community Orchestra, as well.  Ruby says being part of Macaulay has introduced her to quite a few students—just like herself.

“I feel like I am a part of a community of many different minds. Where else can you meet aspiring veterinarians who belly dance? Or visual artists with a passion for environmental policies? Or pianists who can prepare your taxes in Japanese? The cool kids these days are all about self-expression, and the chance to study the things we like in order to further ourselves, is a chance like no other.”




Macaulay Students Ace Prestigious Scholarships and Fellowships in 2017

Ellianna Schwab, John Wetmore (top, r) and Patryk Perkowski (bottom, l)

Macaulay Honors College congratulates its 33 students and alumni who have claimed highly competitive and merit-based awards and scholarships in 2017. Four students have won Fulbright awards; five Macaulay students and alumni will receive funds from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships for graduate studies; and one has received the competitive Harry S. Truman Scholarship.  Macaulay students’ achievements underscore their ambition, focus and achievement in areas ranging from public policy, to academic research to community service.

The Boren Awards for International Study

Boren Scholarships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S.

Jacob Kessler ’17 (Hunter College) majors are Political Science and Chinese with minors in Arabic and Public Policy and he will be a student at Beijing Union University beginning in September 2017 studying Chinese, and then have a part-time internship in the city.

David O’Conner ’17 (Hunter College) has a double major in Economics and Chinese and will do course work at Nanking University and also complete an internship while in China.

Frances Raybaud ’19 (Queens College), who is majoring in Political Science and has minors in French, Arabic and Environmental Studies, will be using her scholarship to fund her Arabic language study, as well as to study the politics of environmental action in Morocco.

Yelena Suponya ’17 (Hunter College) who has a double major in Chinese and Environmental Studies with a minor is Psychology, will study at Nanking University and also complete an internship while in China.

Critical Language Scholarships

The Critical Language Scholarship Program (CLS) is an intensive overseas language study program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and is part of a U.S. government effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages.

Nicole Rojas ’18 (Hunter College) has a double major in Chinese and Political Science with a minor in Human Rights. He will be studying Chinese at Changchun over the summer 2017.

Olivia Sztanga ’17 (Baruch College) has a double major in Political Science and Economics and will be studying Arabic to be able to communicate and work with refugees and other types of migrants from Arabic-speaking countries.

Kevin Tang ’16 (Hunter College), who has a dual major in Chemistry and Urban Studies, will spend 8 weeks in Tangiers studying at the Arab American Language Institute in Morocco.

The Fulbright Program

Regarded as one of the most prestigious awards programs in the world, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program. The Fulbright has helped to nurture 43 Nobel laureates since its founding in 1946.

Maneesha Bhugwansing ’14 (Baruch College) has won a Fulbright Scholarship to study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

Norine Chan ’17 (Hunter College) has won a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant award to teach English in Taiwan to elementary and secondary school students.

Alexandra (Sasha) Whittaker ’17 (City College) is the recipient of a Fulbright Study/Research Grant research post-World War II Polish photography at Adam Mickiewicz University (UAM) in Poznań.

John Wetmore ’17 (Hunter College) has won a Fulbright Secondary Teaching Assistantship Fellowship to teach English working at Colegio Decroly, a secondary school in Spain.

Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship

The Gilman Scholarship Program aims to diversify the kinds of students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go by offering awards to U.S. undergraduates who might otherwise not participate due to financial constraints.

Nabil Ahmed Khatri ’17 (City College) is a Computer Science major at the Grove School of Engineering at City College. He attended the VU Amsterdam (Vrije Universiteit) in the Netherlands in the Spring 2017 semester.

David Lee ’17 (Queens College) has a double major in Computer Science and Graphic Design. She used her Gilman Scholarship to study at Kobe University in Japan.

Winnie Shen ’18 (Hunter College) used her Gilman Scholarship to study in China.

Michelle Sheu ’17 (Baruch College, CUNY BA) is pursuing her self-directed CUNY BA in Design and Storytelling to explore the intersections of tech and visual communication as a medium to address social issues. Michelle studied abroad in Costa Rica at the Universidad Veritas for the Spring 2017 semester.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

The NSF program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics who are pursuing research based graduate degrees.

Munazza Khalida Alam ’16 (Hunter College) currently studies at Harvard University and received her NSF fellowship for her work in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Joseph Derosa ’15 (City College) is currently at the Scripps Research Institute. He received his NSF fellowship for his study in chemistry and chemical catalysis.

Thomas Davis Peek Hart ’15 (Hunter College) who is currently studying at Rockefeller University, has received an NSF fellowship for his study in life sciences and organismal biology.

Patryk Perkowski ’14 (Queens College) currently works at Innovations for Poverty Action on projects related to poverty and violence.  He plans to pursue a Ph. D. in Economics.

Elianna Schwab ’17 (City College) is a Physics and Math major and intends to use her NSF grant to study gravitational waves in close binary stars. She is also the valedictorian for City’s commencement this year.

The Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship

The Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship Program provides undergraduate and graduate students with financial support, mentoring and professional development to prepare them academically and professionally for a career in the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service.

Rausan Borujerdi, ’16 (City College) will attend Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs to study international security with a specialization in the Middle East.

The CUNY Jonas E. Salk Scholarship

CUNY created the Salk program in 1955 to honor Dr. Jonas E. Salk, the1934 graduate of City College who discovered the polio vaccine. The Salk Scholarship identifies students entering the fields of medicine and the Biological sciences who are most likely to make an impact on medicine and research.

Ma Su Su Aung ’17 (City College) will study to be a physician at Creighton University School of Medicine.

Anika Nabila ’17 (Baruch College) will pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences.

Harry S. Truman Scholarship

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 to be the nation’s living memorial to President Harry S. Truman. The Foundation has a mission to select and support the next generation of public service leaders.

Claire Lynch ’17 (City College) is double-majoring in Political Science and Jewish Studies. Her interests include migration, immigration, and refugee work.

NYC Urban Fellows Program

The NYC Urban Fellows Program is a highly selective, nine-month fellowship designed to introduce America’s finest college students and graduates to local government and public service. The program combines work in Mayoral offices and City agencies with an intensive seminar series that explores current urban issues impacting public policy.

Thomas Hutton ’17 (Hunter College) has a double major in Environmental Studies and Political Science, as well as a Public Policy Certificate. He has coached high school students on civic action projects to promote the democratic process.

Matthew LoCastro ’17 (Hunter College) majored in Political Science. He had an internship at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), where he conducted research with General David Petraeus and Neil Brown, the Director of Policy and Research for KKR’s Global Institute.

Jeannette K. Watson Award

The Watson Fellowship is a three-year program that provides summer internships, mentoring, and enriched educational opportunities to promising students from partner institutions in New York City and abroad.

Marco Costanza ’19 (College of Staten Island) is pursuing a dual degree in Psychology and Spanish. He will be interning at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Maisha Kamal ’19 (Brooklyn College) is a Business Economics and English major with a strong interest in public policy and human rights. She will be interning at Open Society Foundations.

Kaitlin McDermott ’19 (Queens College) is triple-majoring in English, History, and American Studies, with a minor in the Social Sciences. She will be interning at Broadway Housing Communities.

Alexandra Shoneyin ’20 (John Jay College) is currently undecided in her major, but leaning towards philosophy and English, with an interest in social justice, art, and music. She will be interning at the the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Victoria Smith ’20 (Lehman College) is undeclared, but interested in psychology, Africana studies, and music. She will be interning at the THANC Foundation.

Saif Zihiri ’19 (Hunter College) is a Political Science major with a certificate in Public Policy and Human Rights. He will be interning at America Needs You.

Other Outstanding Achievement:

Chelsea Batista ’17 (Brooklyn College), who was accepted to 11 medical schools, will attend Columbia University’s College of Surgeon and Physicians with scholarships and grants that will cover full tuition, plus room and board.

Lucinda Zawadzki ’15 (CSI) was accepted to the Ph.D. program in Zoology at Oxford University on a full tuition scholarship.


View 2018 Awards

View 2019 Awards

Macaulay Profile ’17: Joy Nuga (Hunter College)

photo of Joy Nuga
Joy Nuga

Joy Nuga was born and raised in the South Bronx to immigrant parents from Lagos, Nigeria.  Since childhood, Joy has had a variety of interests related to culture, policy and technology that included avidly memorizing the succession of US Presidents to the tune of Yankee Doodle, perfecting her Yoruba, and acting as the family’s resident Windows XP technician. All of this later developed into her collegiate academic interests in Economics (her major), with minors in German and International Relations. Joy also has a Public Policy certificate with a concentration in Cyber Policy and Internet Governance.

“The flexibility to pursue all the academic endeavors at Macaulay— I never thought I would be able to do this anywhere else. Being a first generation Nigerian American definitely had a profound impact on how I view society and the world around me, and because of this, I will always have an inherent dedication to defending the intellectual and societal contributions of immigrants and children of immigrants.”

Throughout her time at Macaulay, Joy remained involved in a variety of academic and extracurricular activities, including the Hunter College Senate, Hunter Association for Pre-Business Students and TEDxCUNY, the largest TEDx University event in the nation by representation. Furthermore, Joy was also fortunate to have been named a 2017 Franklin Williams Scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“Working at the Council was truly a formative experience during some of the most transformative geopolitical events our nation and our world has ever seen. I was able to meet with senior fellows and other foreign policy experts and learn more about the future of international relations.”

Joy’s other honors included being named a 2017 Carnegie Council for Ethics and International Affairs Student Research Finalist, and receiving a 2016 Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University. These honors directly pertain to her undergraduate research.

Joy  completed her senior capstone project “A Byte-ing Conundrum: Barriers to Comprehensive Cybersecurity, Internet Governance, and Internet Privacy.” She hopes to continue her interests in the intersection between private finance, public policy, and cyber affairs as a New Analyst with Goldman Sachs. She has future aspirations to work in economic diplomacy, and cites her time at Macaulay as key to her intellectual growth.

“I was attracted to Macaulay’s close-knit community that very much resembled my small nuclear family as well as the genuine care that advisors had with their students. Never in my life have I been in an academic environment that makes the idea of ‘dreaming big’ more than a cliché, but more of an actual lifestyle—and for that, I am forever grateful to Macaulay.”



Macaulay Profile ’17: Juliana Emmanuelli (Baruch College)

photo of Juliana Emmanuelli
Juliana Emmanuelli

For Juliana Emmanuelli, getting ahead also has meant bringing others along with her. For two years, she has worked at the Student Academic Consulting Center at Baruch, where she helped students overcome academic hurdles. Her relationships often expanded from tutor, to mentor, to friend.

“During this time, I really got to know Baruch students and the difficulties many face in achieving higher education. This drove me to volunteer as a tutor in various organizations, including Sanctuary for Families, where I tutored children who have endured traumatic domestic and sexual violence.”

Juliana is a Computer Information Systems major (CIS) but that doesn’t begin to describe the passion she’s applied in learning this field. Having done several internships for corporations like New York Life and JPMorgan Chase, she has drawn from what she’s learned at these private business settings to apply to her work in the nonprofit world.

“I am currently interning at NGO CSW/NY, a civil society NGO of the United Nations. My work focuses on economic empowerment and violence against women. My skills from my time in corporate jobs are invaluable to the organization as we have a very small budget. My specializations in technology help me to figure out ways to make the organization more efficient in addition to my advocacy and research work.”

Juliana also found the time to be active on Macaulay Honors College’s Scholars Council and was a treasurer for Baruch’s Honors Council for three years. Macaulay’s team of advisors at Baruch also awarded her its Legacy award, given each year to an outstanding senior. Juliana also received scholarships and mentorships from the Financial Women’s Association (FWA). She has pursued interests in helping women advance in business and maintains ties to groups like Fem Code, a women in STEM career club.

“For the next year, I will be a part of a special women in STEM program at JPMorgan Chase, called Tech Connect. Under this program, I will be trained as a software engineer and in leadership skills as a woman in business organizations. I hope this will give me a strong foundation to be able to enter the ed-tech sphere and really work to help drive forward innovative solutions and help pioneer women into new fields.”

The Riverdale, Bronx native also studied abroad in Peru and Spain, which fueled her desire to learn more languages, assisting her in her minor in Spanish. Her mother is of Eastern European descent and her maternal great-grandparents arrived in the U.S. through Ellis Island. Juliana’s father was the first in his Puerto Rican family to be born in the mainland U.S. Both parents are lawyers, with her mother retired from working in the public sector in NYC housing courts. They have been a big influence in her life—as has Macaulay.

“Four years ago, if anyone told me I would be getting a degree in CIS I would have called them crazy. Since I did not have to pay for classes, I took so many random courses, and really got to find interests outside of my comfort zone. Traveling really changed me too, and made me realize my desire to be part of sustainable development movements that focus on integrating technology.”

Juliana graduates magna cum laude. It’s an apt description of what she will bring to the world and her immediate surroundings.


Macaulay Profile ’17: Drew Podgorski (John Jay College)


photo of Drew Podgorski
Drew Podgorski

Along with his tuition scholarship from Macaulay Honors College, Drew Podgorski also was awarded a four-year Army ROTC National Scholarship right out of high school. The John Jay student is a member of that college’s first graduating class at Macaulay.  Drew was inspired to join the ROTC by NY State Senator Greg Ball, who was a graduate of the Air Force Academy and with whom Drew had an internship. Other role models, like former Macaulay professor Army General David Petraeus inspired Drew to continue in military service.

 “I’m comfortable in a classroom or an office, but learning to lead people in stressful situations when everyone is cold, tired, and hungry is an entirely different animal and something I wanted to become skilled at.”

Drew has been a cadet at the CUNY Army ROTC program at City College, joining it in 2013, the first time it was re-instated since 1972. It opened Drew’s eyes to the diverse backgrounds of students at CUNY—all trying to meet the ROTC requirements while facing many personal challenges.

“Some members were prior-enlisted in the military, had families, and were coming back to get their Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, and earn their commission. The opportunity to develop leadership skills in such a diverse environment has prepared me to be able to lead diverse teams in the Army and in my civilian career.”

Drew had a double major in Global Economics and Middle Eastern Relations, and he also received a CUNY BA, along with his Macaulay degree. His internship experiences led to his specialization in the technology sector and it all came together in his senior year when he completed his capstone project.

“It was called, “For A.I. and Country” about the Third Offset Strategy, analyzing the gap between Washington DC and Silicon Valley in the integration of cutting-edge technologies, such as automation, machine learning, advanced manufacturing, and big data analytics, into the defense apparatus.”

The Brewster, NY native’s dad is a paramedic and his mom is a nurse, both of whom earned college degrees—and neither of whom was in the military. In summer 2017, Drew will go to Fort Knox for a month of culminating training and will commission as a Second Lieutenant, Infantry Officer in the Army National Guard upon completion of his training. He will also start his career as a technology investment banking analyst at Bowen Advisors. His most rewarding experience at Macaulay was taking Gen. Petraeus’ class, The North American Decades, a public policy course.

 “I enjoyed being in a class where my peers and the material were so interdisciplinary, and everyone had to step up when it was their turn to contribute. The experience of analyzing macro-level trends and then drilling down into the details, the implications for the stakeholders and need to take a stance on a challenging issue, while conducting a presentation in which Professor Petraeus was sure to provide constructive criticism, was an incredible opportunity I’ll never forget.”




Macaulay Profile ’17: Ashley Brea Tavares (Queens College)

photo of Ashley Brea Tavarez
Ashley Brea Tavarez

It almost feels like it was yesterday for Ashley Brea Tavarez when a visiting professor came to her fifth-grade class and questioned her intelligence. He had posed a high-level math question, which Ashley alone promptly answered correctly. The professor mockingly suggested she must have been in an earlier class when he posed the same question.

“I remember being so confused as to why it was so hard to believe that I just figured it out on my own. Throughout my life, I attended only public schools in low income neighborhoods of the Bronx. I experienced how the lack of resources and investment of funds impacts the quality of education. More so, it impacts the way that children attending these schools view themselves and their potential.”

While that visiting professor’s remarks stung, happily for Ashley she did have a teacher who believed in her and was her main motivator throughout her life. He was also a member of Teach for America (TFA), a national corps of leaders who commit to teaching in low-income schools and work to increase their students’ opportunities in life. That teacher’s influence and her studies at Queens College influenced her choice to also join TFA.

“I always knew I was ready to go back and work in low-income communities, such as the one I was raised it. I was just never sure in what capacity that would be. After learning more about the education inequity through my Urban Studies courses, my desire to work for TFA increased. My own experiences growing up, such as the lack of confidence some teachers in public schools have in their students, fueled my passion to do so.”

Ashley has a double major in Psychology and Urban Studies and has been on the Dean’s List each of her four years. She’s volunteered as a peer counselor in Peer Support Services at Queens and was Vice President of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars for Queens’ PACE (Planning to Achieve Collegiate Excellence) sector. She chose Macaulay for its selectivity and special benefits.

“I liked the thought that I would have individualized attention through our assigned advisors and a social advantage coming into college with pre-made friendships. More so, the opportunity to have funds available for studying/service abroad was extremely attractive due to the financial constraints I was raised with.”

Ashley also studied abroad in the Galapagos through the Opportunities Fund. Her parents arrived from the Dominican Republic years ago, and her father had a law degree that wasn’t applicable in the U.S., so he is currently a taxi driver. Her mom is a homemaker, and her older sister graduated from Queensborough Community College. At Macaulay, Ashley has found a second family.

“I think what I love most is the connections I made not only with my peers, but also with my advisors. The Macaulay family at Queens College is extremely supportive and believe in you even when you may not believe in yourself. Throughout my four years, I was always pushed to do my best and to never give up.”

Next for Ashley is traveling to live in Oklahoma City to begin her commitment for Teach for America as an elementary school teacher. She expects to be an inspiration to another little girl or boy who may have encountered teachers who questioned their ability. It will be a way for her to give back and to inspire children the same way that she was inspired.


Macaulay Profile ’17: Kwan Holloway (Brooklyn College)

photo of Kwan Holloway
Kwan Holloway

It’s a Costa Rica proverb shared by his father that guides Kwan Holloway:

Verdaderos líderes no tratan que conducir, ellos ya hacer” which means, “True leaders don’t try to lead, they already do.” And Kwan has spent his time at Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College doing and learning. His approach to school and life has been greatly influenced by his parents.

“My family was never rich and we never had anything handed to us. I watched my parents work crazy hours in order to provide for me and I knew I’d have to work just as hard if not harder to make my own place in the world. And that’s what I’ve been doing to get up to this point.”

Kwan majored in Multimedia Computing, which is computer science with a focus on web design, graphics, gaming and other forms of media. He says coding has changed his life and allowed him to become a great problem solver, and has influenced his life outside of computers.

 “I can approach problems logically, or abstract them into easy to understand concepts. I always find myself thinking of new ways to implement solutions to my various problems in my games. I take the concepts and theory of coding in order to manage and display my other interests, like art. I can break down my process into conceptual stages and then tackle them one at a time like I would if it were a programming problem.

Kwan has been a Peer Mentor at Brooklyn College and he had an internship at CodeToWork, a company that tries to get young, minority students their first jobs in the tech world. He’s most proud of the work he did on his project Code Control, a game he developed that teaches the basics of coding to people. He is on the Dean’s List and received an award from the National Black Science Students Organization. Kwan’s college education was an expectation in his family.

“My mother is from Barbados, and my father is from Costa Rica, and both of parents are college educated and work in the health field. I’m continuing the trend of going to college because they raised me and always pushed me to be the best I can. They let me know that life would be harder for me because I’m black, but that it shouldn’t be a reason to ever give up. They support me in more ways than I can count and are positive about me pursuing my goals.”

Kwan has a full-time position in computer programming and he expects to continue in gaming and web designing, as well as coding, which he says allows him to “create anything I wish and it allows me to have an intimate connection with what I create.”  His studies at Macaulay helped lead him there.

“I was attracted to Macaulay because of the ability to gain connections where I could help others, as well as grow in my own ways. I was also able to focus on growing as a person, both socially and academically without the burden of tuition.”

The New Design High School graduate has come a long way, but his parent have instilled in him to be the best that he can be—at whatever he does.





Macaulay Profile ’17: Sara Louie (City College)

photo of outstanding senior Sara Louie '17
Sara Louie

For Sara Louie, what happens in the classroom doesn’t just stay in the classroom. Sara developed and brought the very first Splash! event to Macaulay Honors College this past year harnessing the love of learning that’s part of Macaulay and sharing it with others. Splash! is a sixty-year old academic outreach program by universities that invites high school students to attend classes created and taught by students, alumni, and local community members. Sara rounded up 40 Macaulay students to teach 70 students from 18 different high schools the best of what they’ve learned at CUNY—from Fanfiction to Contextualizing Horror Films to an Introduction to Creative Writing.

“I didn’t know it at the time, but Splash! brought together everything I love about Macaulay and let me put the skills I’ve gained over the past four years to use. It was exciting to have so many passionate Macaulay students in one place and to see how high schoolers challenged themselves to attend specific, intensive classes. I challenged myself to design a team that reflected the best pieces of leadership I’ve learned over the past few years and used my experience in event planning.”

Even as Sara has eagerly organized events and shared her learning with others, she also has pursued her interest in saving the environment. She is majoring in Sustainability Development and studied abroad to learn more about the global approach to these issues in Costa Rica, as well as in Israel. Both countries offered a contrast in how to approach these challenges.

“I was able to contrast how a developing country in the tropics tackled sustainability issues compared to a more developed country in the Mediterranean. I loved that for each program, I really got to not only learn in the classroom, but travel into the country to see the policies and programs in practice.”

College education goes back several generations in Sara’s family, who arrived in the U.S. from China and Taiwan. One of her grandmothers went to Cornell for Biology and one of her grandfathers got his PhD from the University of Michigan in Mechanical Engineering. Both her parents graduated from Columbia University and now work in IT. Sara attended The High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at CCNY, and continued at Macaulay, also on City’s campus.

“I love New York and knew the places I was interested in interning at were here, but that said, going to college on the same campus as high school and in the same city – it was important for me to be able to travel. I also knew I enjoyed a small school community (including classes!) and a supportive environment. I liked that Macaulay provided that community, but still let me be part of the bigger CUNY system.”

Sara was a member of Macaulay’s Scholars Council and served as its president and vice president for community service. She has also been active in Circle K, a global network of community service oriented college students. While at Macaulay, Sara also served on the search committee for the new Dean. After graduation, she will be in a fellowship program at Newman’s Own Foundation in a program designed to build leaders within non-profits; the program also will provide personal mentoring and training opportunities. Sara is ready to follow wherever her passion takes her.

“I think what I’ve learned the most in college is that there are a lot of opportunities out there and it’s about finding the opportunity that works best for you at a given time.”





Doonesbury Creator Garry Trudeau is Macaulay’s 2017 Commencement Speaker

photo of cartoonist Garry Trudeau
Garry Trudeau

Macaulay Honors College at CUNY proudly announces that Garry Trudeau, the first cartoonist to win a Pulitzer Prize, will serve as the 2017 Commencement speaker. Trudeau will address Macaulay’s 500 graduates on Monday, June 12, 2017 at 3pm at the United Palace Theater in upper Manhattan.

“We are thrilled to have Garry Trudeau for this year’s commencement ceremony,” said Mary C. Pearl, Ph.D., Dean of Macaulay. “With a keen eye and sharp sense of humor, Trudeau has tackled difficult subjects ranging from mental health to military intervention to the battle lines of personal and political conflict that have challenged our society over the past 5 decades. His thoughtful approach, his sensitivity, and his deep civic engagement exemplify Macaulay’s highest ideals.”

Trudeau has provided political and social commentary through the influential, creative and accessible medium of comic strips since 1970.  He is also the creator and executive producer of the Amazon Studios political comedy series Alpha House. He recently completed his new book, Yuge, which covers 30 years of Donald Trump appearing in his Doonesbury cartoon strip.

Trudeau graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Fine Arts degrees.