Fil-Am grads from northeast U.S. states honored at PH Center in NY
NEW YORK — Thirty-one Filipino and Filipino American higher education graduates from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island marched down the Philippine Center’s Kalayaan Hall for the 7th Philippine Graduation Ceremony on June 8. Thirteen other graduates from Harvard were earlier honored in another ceremony.
This year’s PGrad batch is composed of many academic achievers, led by two summa cum laude economics graduates Jonathan Coronel from Fordham University and Gabrielle Magallanes from St. John’s University; magna cum laude graduates Jason Louie Singson (BA in Education, City College of New York) and Iris Dumaual (BA in English, St. John’s University); and cum laude graduate Blizelle Marie Tormis (BSBA in Health Services Management, Berkeley College).
Keynote speaker Gil Quiniones, president and CEO of New York Power Authority, related his journey as a mechanical engineering graduate from De La Salle University in Manila starting out at a small energy consultant firm in New York, working at Con Edison for 16 years, and later serving in several capacities in the public sector, telecommunications and energy industry in New York.
Quiniones urged the graduates to stick to their principles and integrity, continue to innovate, and remember that “the ultimate measure of success is not the titles that you have, but what you do with those positions to make a difference in your community.”
The graduates were awarded with PGrad diplomas and medals by Consul General Cristobal and Quiniones and certificates of merit from the Office of New York State Assemblyman Brian Barnwell by Angela Callisaya.
Aries dela Cruz, Manhattan Regional Representative for Governor Andrew Cuomo, spoke on behalf of the governor and bestowed the Northern Star Award to Jonathan Coronel, who graduated Summa Cum Laude from Fordham University Gabelli School of Business with a bachelor’s degree in Global Finance and Business Economics.
Sharing his struggles as a transfer student from Ateneo de Manila University coming to Fordham University, Coronel recognized that his fellow graduates have their own versions of survival. He encouraged them by saying, “For all the times that you feel like you don’t belong here, remind yourself of this day when you emerged victorious. It’s only going to get tougher from here but I look forward to seeing all of you again and share new chapters of our stories of survival.”
The Philippine Consulate has introduced a one-year voluntary mentoring program, which Philippine Consul General Claro S. Cristobal explained, aims to connect the graduates with prospective mentors who are experts in the graduates’ chosen fields.
The current mentor-graduate partnerships are:
Atty. Concepcion Montoya, partner, employment defense litigator, and counselor at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, mentoring Philjay Solar, a law graduate from New England Law Boston;
Prof. Emilia Zarco, chair of the Department of Exercise Science and Associate Professor at Ruth and Ammon School of Education at Adelphi University, mentoring Felicity Duran, a graduate of Master of Public Health from New York University;
Prof. Angela Reyes, a faculty member in the program of Anthropology at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, mentoring Kristen Gayagoy, a graduate of International Studies with concentration on development, Asian and legal studies from City University of New York;
Multi-award winning theater producer Jhett Tolentino mentoring Iris Dumaual;
Raphael Ignacio, a business development consultant for government affairs consultancy Albright Stonebridge Group, mentoring Laura Vega, a political science graduate from Stony Brook University.
During the intermission, PGrad Susanna Labangan-Sabangan, who is also the female vocalist of the band Sounds of Manila, rendered “Once It’s in Your Heart,” a song from the band’s album which was composed by legendary composer Cecile Azarcon.
A reception and networking event hosted by the Consul General followed after the program.
The PGradv2.0 was organized in cooperation with the Pilipino American Unity for Progress, Inc. (UNIPRO). Consul Arman Talbo and UNIPRO’s Kristina London co- hosted the program.