Close-up of two graduates in mortarboards and tassels facing each other


New York Tech's 59th Commencement: Two Options, One Outstanding Class

April 28, 2020

To acknowledge the extraordinary challenges faced by the Class of 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis, New York Institute of Technology will offer not one but two commencement ceremonies to celebrate the achievements of its Class of 2020: a June 21, 2020 virtual commencement ceremony for students at the Long Island and New York City campuses and an in-person event to be scheduled in May 2021.

“Throughout these unprecedented times, our primary focus has been and remains the safety of our students and their families, as well as the safety of our faculty and staff. While canceling the traditional spring ceremony was a painful decision, we’re going to do our best to make the virtual June event a memorable one,” said Nada Marie Anid, Ph.D., vice president for Strategic Communications and External Relations at New York Institute of Technology. “The two ceremonies gives us the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of our New York graduates this summer and then again next year, when we can reunite in person on campus.”

About the June 21 Virtual Ceremony

The virtual commencement ceremony, to be livestreamed at at 11 a.m. on June 21, will incorporate New York Tech’s traditional ceremonial components, including pre-recorded speeches by President Hank Foley, Ph.D., and Board Chair Kevin Silva, a video montage salute to graduates, and the conferral of all degrees by President Foley and Provost Junius Gonzales, M.D., M.B.A. The national anthem will be performed by Emily Tafur, who will graduate this year with a Master’s of Arts in Communication Arts. The Class of 2020 student orator, Ashley Lorin Dent, is a student-veteran who will graduate with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts degree in Advertising, Public Relations, and Technology.

Following the completion of the main virtual ceremony, marking the university’s 59th annual commencement, individual ceremonies will be held for New York Tech’s School of Architecture and Design, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering and Computing Sciences, School of Health Professions, and School of Management. After each dean’s address, graduates enrolled in programs at the New York City and Long Island campuses will be individually recognized via a shareable digital slide that features their name, degree, a photo, and a quote or thank-you message.

College of Medicine Hooding

The College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (NYITCOM-Long Island) will hold a virtual hooding ceremony in place of its traditional hooding ceremony on Monday, May 18. President Hank Foley and Dean and New York Tech Vice President for Health Sciences and Medical Affairs Jerry Balentine, D.O., will address the students. NYITCOM’s first-ever hooding ceremony for its Jonesboro, Arkansas campus will be held remotely on Thursday, May 21. On April 15, nearly a third of the NYITCOM-Long Island medical school graduated early, following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Emergency Orders to allow the state’s fourth-year medical students to receive physician licenses upon graduation.

This year, New York Tech has more than 2,600 graduates receiving degrees from 85 academic programs, including undergraduate (47%) and graduate, doctoral, and advanced certification programs (53%). Members of the Class of 2020, ranging in age from 18 to 67 years old, represent 34 states and 65 countries.  

About Our Student Singer and Orator:

Student Singer Emily Tafur has been singing since the age of four. In her native Colombia, she was a member of the Cali City Choir for 12 years and sang with the Opera of Colombia and the Cali Conservatory. After moving to the United States in 2011 to pursue her undergraduate degree in musical theatre performance, Emily performed extensively as part of LIU’s Post Theatre Company and in Off-Broadway and Long Island theater productions.

She chose to pursue her master’s degree at New York Institute of Technology, channeling her creativity into learning how to edit and produce content for young audiences on modern media platforms. Her work with Globesville, the student-run news channel, included producing, hosting, and editing “ACES,” a show about women's issues, and producing, hosting, writing, and editing a podcast “NYIT International” that can be found on Apple podcasts, Spotify, and Emily also traveled to East Africa in the fall of 2019, documenting the trip for Globesville using creative/new media, and hosted a New York Tech admissions video in early 2020.

After graduation, Emily plans to continue her work as a contract Spanish language legal/court interpreter while seeking creative work at a media outlet. She also intends to continue to travel internationally, performing occasionally while expanding on her travel blog, “Globe for Good.”

Student Orator Ashley LorIn Dent enrolled in New York Institute of Technology in 2018 as a transfer student. She served in the United States Air Force as an aviation resource manager for nine years, including deployments to Afghanistan and Turkey in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve. She was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal upon separating at the rank of Staff Sergeant. Ashley served as a Sexual Assault and Prevention Response (SAPR) Victim Advocate, supporting and advocating for men and women who had been impacted by sexual trauma. This enabled her to receive the National Organization for Victim Assistance Department of Defense Sexual Assault Advocate certification.

During her time at New York Tech, Ashley’s;leadership and academic efforts were recognized by the Student Veterans of America, which nominated her as one of 10 nationwide finalists for its 2019 Student Veteran of the Year award. In the hands-on communication arts curriculum, Ashley helped create and co-host a video series, “Melanin Madness,” which highlighted the struggles brown women face on a day-to-day basis. She also traveled to Europe to produce and star in a documentary that focused on cultural emergence. She held the positions of vice president and president of New York Tech’s Student Veteran’s Organization, focusing on making the student veteran community more inclusive and providing resources to further their success. She also served as president of the Golden Key International Honour Society, an organization of students in the top 15 percent of their class. After graduation, Ashley plans to attend graduate school and hopes to open a non-profit organization that advocates for women who have been impacted by interpersonal violence and women veterans who suffer from combat-related illnesses.