Pictured: Bakhtawar Shahbaz (B.S., Psychology), an international student from Faisalabad, Pakistan, addressed the Class of 2022.
For the first time in three years, New York Institute of Technology graduates, family members, and friends joined faculty, staff, and administration in person on May 22 at the university’s Long Island campus to celebrate its 61st annual commencement. The event saluted 2,400 candidates from 57 countries and throughout the United States, 34 percent of whom are earning undergraduate degrees and the remainder earning graduate, medical, professional, or post-graduate degrees.
Students from the university’s campuses in New York City and Long Island, as well as from Vancouver, British Columbia, attended the ceremony, which was also streamed live.
Fifty-seven members of the Class of 2022 are veterans; the youngest undergraduate student is 19 years old; the oldest is 59. Among those earning graduate, medical, professional, or post-graduate degrees, the youngest is 20 years old; the oldest is 66.
From left: New York Tech President Hank Foley, Alvy Ray Smith, and Peter J. Romano (B.Arch. ’76), chair of the Board of Trustees.
“Our future and your own future are inextricably intertwined. Your legacy is our legacy, just as was the legacy of all the students who have gone before and in whose footsteps you will now follow,” New York Tech President Hank Foley, Ph.D., said to the graduates. “I challenge you today to ask yourselves not only what needs doing, but in conquering challenges, ask yourselves: Am I ready to use the education and experience I received here to teach others in a way that makes change and makes sense?”
Foley conferred an honorary degree upon Alvy Ray Smith, Ph.D., a pioneer in computer animation who continues to lead the field. He received a Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) and delivered inspiring remarks to the graduates and all assembled.
Smith, who acknowledged he remembered a time before computers, is an original member of the Computer Graphics Lab founded at New York Tech on the Long Island campus in the 1970s. In describing it, he shared that the group now known as Pixar started here. They had their vision here and first started mastering some of the technologies they would need here. Smith said, “To those of you who might be artists, I think of you as the explorers of the edge of our culture...find out what is out there and show the rest of us. And if you’re a coder, I urge you to write your own code. Don’t use code written by somebody else. The computer is the most malleable tool ever invented by humankind. Show the rest of us what it can do and what there to see.
“Many of the great changes in art and technology happened at times of great turbulence and anxiety. The digital revolution that I was part of began in the 1960s. The revolution I was part of began in the midst of war, riots, and Watergate. The invention of the computer itself was part of an even worse time in the 1930s and 1940s,” Smith said. “Despite the appalling counterevidence—of plague, war, and political turmoil—there is more than hope. You are the ones who will shape the future.”
In addition to cofounding Pixar, the animation studio he sold to Disney, Smith is the cofounder of Altamira, a software company he sold to Microsoft. He also cofounded the Lucasfilm Computer Division, which developed computer graphics software, including early rendering technology. Read more about Smith’s legacy of innovation.
Class of ’22 Students Shine
Tricia Creft (B.S., Nursing) from Queens Village, N.Y., sang the national anthem during the main commencement ceremony, which began at 9 a.m. Bakhtawar Shahbaz (B.S., Psychology), an international student from Faisalabad, Pakistan, addressed the Class of 2022. Both students assisted in the hooding of Smith.
Tricia Creft (B.S., Nursing) from Queens Village, N.Y., sang the national anthem during the main commencement ceremony.
In describing her 7,000-mile journey to New York Tech that was nothing short of transformative, Shahbaz shared, “When I sat in these New York Tech classrooms for the first time, even though it was a different country, a different language, and a mix of different cultures, I knew I belonged here,” adding that “the friends and mentors I met along the way helped transform me from a shy anxious girl who couldn’t leave home to this confident woman standing before you.”
To her fellow graduates, Shahbaz said, “We have all learned that life gets hard, and sometimes achieving our goals can seem impossible. But it’s not. Never give up on your dreams. Believe in yourself.”
Following the main commencement event, students were recognized individually at in-person ceremonies for the School of Architecture and Design, College of Engineering and Computing Sciences, School of Health Professions, School of Management, and College of Arts and Sciences.
New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine’s hooding ceremony for Long Island campus D.O. students was also held on May 22; the Class of 2022 hooding at the medical school’s Jonesboro, Arkansas campus will be on May 25. Graduation at New York Tech’s Vancouver campus will take place this fall.