Guttman Community College Celebrates 10th Annual Commencement, Confers 180 Degrees



June 22, 2023 | Commencement, Student Achievement, Student Engagement

2023 Ceremony Featured Keynote Speaker Andrea Shapiro Davis of the New York City’s Mayor’s Office

New York, N.Y. (June 22, 2023) – On Wednesday, June 21, Stella and Charles Guttman Community College (“Guttman”) President Larry Johnson presided over the College’s 10th annual Commencement ceremony, which took place across the street from the College in Bryant Park and was also live-streamed on YouTube. The College, part of the City University of New York (CUNY), awards associate degrees to approximately 180 graduates from six academic programs, including Business Administration, Human Services, Information Technology, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Science, and Urban Studies.

“Guttman’s 2023 Commencement was a culmination of the incredible success our students have worked so hard to achieve. The ceremony marked the College’s 10th graduation year, and I was proud to honor this group of diverse and talented graduates. Whether they plan to transfer to a four-year institution or enter the workforce, I have no doubt they will go on to accomplish greatness and make an impact on New York City and society as a whole,” said Dr. Johnson. “I would also like to recognize our passionate, dedicated faculty and staff, who work to provide an exceptional education and meaningful support services to ensure our students stay on the path to graduation.”

Andrea Shapiro Davis, senior advisor, and director of public services engagement for the New York City mayor’s office was the keynote speaker. Prior to joining the mayor’s office, Davis held numerous roles with CUNY, including associate vice chancellor for corporate, foundation, and major gift development from 2013 to 2019 and interim vice chancellor for institutional advancement from 2019 to 2022. Davis also led CUNY’s Women in Technology and Entrepreneurship in New York program, created CUNY Arts, and helped create the CUNY Cultural Corps.

“It was an honor to serve as the keynote speaker at Guttman’s graduation ceremony. The event was particularly meaningful to me because, like so many of the students graduating, I was the first in my family to graduate from college, and I also attended a CUNY institution (Queens College). As a result, I personally know about many of the struggles and challenges that the graduates have had to overcome,” said Davis. “In my speech, I urged the students to dare to believe in their own greatness and to both giveback and pay it forward, because that guidance helped me to succeed in my career and in life, and I look forward to seeing the amazing things that today’s graduates will accomplish in the future.

During the ceremony, Davis shared stories of her upbringing in Queens and learning early on the importance of helping others, which inspired her career path in public service. She not only emphasized the importance of giving back, but she also demonstrated it by surprising each of the graduates with a $50 gift card, along with a second $50 gift card to pass along to someone else.

Demi Uwechue was the class of 2023’s valedictorian. An aspiring astrobiologist, Uwechue plans to transfer to a four-year college to pursue their interests in science and math as well as creating writing.

“During my time here [at Guttman], I’ve had professors that nurture my curiosity and open my eyes to new interests. I’ve met librarians who’ve helped me refine my questions and hunt for answers,” said Uwechue.

Salutatorian and Human Services major Salvatore Oddo gave the invocation. He said he chose Guttman for the financial aid support he was able to secure as well as the nurturing environment he noticed from staff and faculty. He will go on to pursue his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Baruch College in the Fall 2023 semester.

Dr. Luis Zambrano, the mathematics lecturer, served as the ceremony’s grand marshal. Candidates for degrees were presented by Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Nicola Blake, and degrees were conferred by Dr. Johnson. Dr. Alie Tyner, a sociology professor, served as the faculty speaker. Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Dr. Danny Ambrose was the ceremony’s emcee.

Stella and Charles Guttman Community College was CUNY’s first new community college in more than forty years. Reimagining what community college could be, Guttman opened its doors in Manhattan in August 2012 to create a research-based, innovative model focused on moving students efficiently toward graduation. Offering associate degree programs in a nurturing environment, the College’s three-year graduation rate consistently surpasses the national average, and most graduates transfer to senior colleges. Guttman is federally designated as a Hispanic-serving institution and minority-serving institution with more than 85% of the student population identifying as Latine or Black/African American. The College was named the best community college in America in 2020 and the top community college in New York State for 2020, 2021, and 2022 by and other ranking agencies.