LaGuardia Community College Graduates 1,909 at 52nd Commencement for Class of 2024

LaGuardia Community College Graduates 1,909 at 52nd Commencement for Class of 2024

To view/download photos from Commencement 2024, click here and here.

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY (June 21, 2024) — LaGuardia Community College/CUNY celebrated the graduation of the 1,909 members of LaGuardia’s Class of 2024, the college’s 52nd graduating class, at a Commencement Ceremony today on the Queens College quad. The graduates were celebrated by around 10,000 guests, which included graduates’ family members and friends, CUNY leadership, elected officials, community members, college supporters, and LaGuardia administration, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards addressed the graduates. LaGuardia President Kenneth Adams and Dr. Billie Gastic Rosado, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, led the ceremony. Special guests included Kevin D. Kim, Esq., CUNY Trustee, Héctor Batista, CUNY Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, and Dr. Denise B. Maybank, CUNY Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

Congresswoman Velázquez related her story of growing up in a small town of sugarcane fields in Puerto Rico to the graduates who sought to make better lives through higher education. “My family didn’t have much. I was one of nine children living in a small wooden house. I realized early on that education was the key to changing my circumstances and achieving my dreams. I was the first in my family to graduate from college and graduate school,” she said. “So, believe me when I tell you that the education you received at LaGuardia has the power to transform your life and open doors you never thought possible. My education allowed me to become the first Puerto Rican woman elected to Congress and the first Latina to chair a congressional committee in the House of Representatives history. The degree you are receiving today will allow you to break barriers, blaze your own trail, and uplift your community along the way.”

Queens Borough President Richards spoke about the diversity he saw among the graduates, who reflect the diversity of Queens, and about the exciting futures that lay ahead for the graduates. “As I look out into this crowd, I see what makes this school in this borough so special,” said President Richards. “I see people from all walks of life, all races, all religions, all backgrounds, all identities, and all orientations. And I see immigrants who came to Queens in search of opportunity, like the one you’ll realize today, when you walk across the stage to get your degree. I’m proud that my sister’s a graduate of LaGuardia Community College. And I see first generation Americans like me, whose parents sacrificed so much for their son to go to college and graduate from college. Today, I see a brighter future for this borough, this city, this country in this world knowing you are the people who are going to lead us into the future. And there is so much inequality in this world. But education is the great equalizer. Education is the key that unlocks the potential of our communities and our society. The education you received here at LaGuardia has put you in an incredible position to make a difference in the world.”

President Adams congratulated the graduates and their families and encouraged them to look forward to the next chapter of their educational and professional journey. “Congratulations, you did it! You did it. You made it. Your family and friends are so proud of you. For those of you who are parents, I’m sure your children are proud of you. Your professors, advisors, coaches, mentors, all of us up here on this stage are very proud of you,” he said. “Community college is like a bridge. It connects you to a senior college, or to a good job. So today, as you graduate from LaGuardia, having earned your associate degrees, you should feel good about that. But remember, your college education should not end today.”

President Adams awarded a posthumous degree to Natalie Dono, a Veterinary Technology student who passed away in January 2024 at age 23, after a battle with cancer. Natalie’s family attended commencement. President Adams also acknowledged two members of the LaGuardia community who passed away this year. Eneida Rivas, a long-time LaGuardia staff member who led the organization of commencement for 20 years. And Dr. Roy McLeod, one of the first faculty members to join LaGuardia upon its founding in 1971. During his tenure at LaGuardia, Dr. McLeod served as Dean of the Faculty, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Vice President for Institutional Advancement. He retired from LaGuardia in 1997 after 26 years of service to LaGuardia.

Class of 2024 ProfileLaGuardia Class of 2024 Graduates Earned Associate Degrees and Academic Certificates in One of 50 Programs

The LaGuardia Class of 2024 graduates earned associate degrees and academic certificates in one of 50 programs offered by LaGuardia’s nine academic departments—with many becoming the first in their family to earn a college degree. The top majors (in order of degrees awarded) for the Class of 2024 were Business Administration, Psychology, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Computer Science, Accounting, and Nursing.

The 1,909 members of LaGuardia’s Class of 2024 reflect the college’s diverse student population, Hispanic-Serving Institution designation, and service to New York City—in particular, the borough of Queens, among the most ethnically diverse urban areas in the world. Graduates come from 76 countries, with 36% born outside the United States. A significant majority (64%) live in the borough of Queens; 17% live in Brooklyn, 8% in The Bronx, 7% in Manhattan, and 4% outside NYC. Nearly half (49%) are Hispanic or Latino, 24% Asian or Pacific Islander, 16% Black, 9% White, and 1% Native American. Forty-three percent are between the ages 18–22, 27% ages 23–27, 9% ages 28–30, 14% ages 31–40, 5% ages 41–50, and 2% ages 50+.

Class Speakers Spoke About the LaGuardia Community College Experience

The Class of 2024 was represented by Amena Shamia, a Biology major and 2024 Goldwater Scholar, and Carolina Lenes Arreola, a Business Administration major. Both are immigrants to the U.S. and first-generation college students.

Amena Shamia, 22, graduated from LaGuardia with a 4.0 GPA. This fall, she will begin pursuing a bachelor’s in biological science at Cornell University, where she has earned a full scholarship covering tuition, textbooks, room and board, and other essentials. Amena aspires to earn an M.D. or Ph.D. or both, either in microbiology or immunology. She wants to help improve public health by becoming a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or another public health organization.

Amena arrived in the United States from Bangladesh a few short years ago. After learning English, Amena, along with two of her siblings, earned her high school equivalency diploma and enrolled at LaGuardia. In her two years as a LaGuardia student, Amena was active with clubs and organizations on campus. She served as an officer of the LaGuardia Student Government Association (SGA) and represented LaGuardia at public facing events as a President’s Society Ambassador.

While helping others is a passion, Amena credits her time at LaGuardia for helping her realize an affinity for scientific research. “I love working in a wet lab,” said Amena. Through the CUNY Research Scholar Program (CRSP) and NIH Bridges program at LaGuardia, Amena received stipends to work on bio-informatics and genetic research projects with Dr. Claudette Davis, associate professor and Biology Program Director at LaGuardia. And through the CUNY LifeSci NYC Internship Program, Amena worked as a research assistant with the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

In her commencement speech, Amena spoke about her journey from a first-year LaGuardia student to a first-generation college graduate. “When I first set foot on the LaGuardia campus, I never imagined myself standing here today. In fact, I resisted coming here because I was afraid. Afraid of failure, of the challenges that lay ahead,” said Amena. “Despite my initial reluctance, coming to LaGuardia turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It was here that I discovered not only my academic passions but also the strength and resilience within myself to overcome obstacles I never thought possible. The opportunities, resources, connections and family that I found are priceless.”

Two of Amena’s siblings are part of LaGuardia’s Class of 2024. Her brother, MD Siddique, 25, graduated with a degree in Computer Science, and their younger sister, Nadia Begum, 21, graduated with a degree in Psychology. MD and Nadia will begin pursuing bachelor’s degrees at City College this fall.

Carolina Lenes Arreola, 40, graduated with a 3.9 GPA. She was born and raised in Colombia, where her interest in justice and bringing solutions led her to become a commercial and maritime lawyer. In 2017, wanting a different life for her young daughters, now ages 11 and 16, Carolina and her husband moved their family to the United States. Carolina studied English at The English Language Center, part of LaGuardia’s Continuing Education Division, then enrolled at LaGuardia as a Business Administration major.

As a LaGuardia student, Carolina completed multiple internships, earned several scholarships, and participated in a range of campus organizations. She worked at LaGuardia as a Student Success Mentor, a Spanish tutor, and served as treasurer for the Student Government Association and an ambassador for both President’s Society and Casa de las Américas. Earlier this year, she co-founded the International Student’s Club to “help international students get the information and resources they need,” said Carolina.

With her LaGuardia degree complete, Carolina plans to work full-time for one-year through the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, a program at LaGuardia that allows international students to gain professional experience. In the fall of 2025, she plans to begin pursuing a bachelor’s in statistics at Baruch College, and ultimately to earn a master’s or MBA.

During her commencement speech, Carolina encouraged her fellow graduates to be proud of where they came from and how hard they worked to get to graduation. “Today is our day. A day that marks our stories. Today we are rewriting our family’s history. Many of us will transfer to a four-year college, some will get a new job, or some will take a break. In any case, there is at least one thing that we all have in common, we want a brilliant and successful future. Surely, we will have it, but remember, although it is not easy, difficulties are not obstacles, they are challenges to make you wiser and stronger. Whenever you get that successful future remember where you come from; remember you come from LaGuardia Community College.”

Read more about members of the graduating class in Red Hawks Rising, named in honor of the college’s beloved mascot. Featured graduates include Zahara Mutebi, a Uganda native who earned a degree in computer science and is transferring to John Jay, Aim-E Chi who graduated with a degree in New Media Technology and is transferring to the CUNY Baccalaureate (CUNY BA) program to pursue a major merging criminal justice and graphic design, and Julian Poli, who earned a degree in civil engineering and is transferring to City College to pursue a bachelor’s in the same field.

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LaGuardia Community College (LAGCC), a Hispanic-Serving Institution, located in Long Island City, Queens offers more than 50 associate degrees and academic certificates, and more than 65 continuing education programs to prepare New Yorkers for transfer to senior colleges and rewarding jobs and careers. An institution of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his advocacy of the underserved. Since 1971, LaGuardia’s academic programs and support services have advanced the socioeconomic mobility of students from Queens, NYC and beyond.


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