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2,300 Graduate from LIU Post at 54th Commencement Exercises


Morgan Lyle,Assistant Director of Public Relations
LIU Post, Long Island University

Brookville, N.Y. – Valedictorian Sean Simensky expressed optimism that the students of today are up to the challenges of tomorrow, and Long Island University President David J. Steinberg issued a passionate defense of college education, at the 54th Commencement exercises at LIU Post on Friday, May 4, 2012.

A class of 974 baccalaureate students, 1,183 master's degree candidates, 24 doctoral candidates, and 145 students who have completed advanced certificates graduated as thousands of faculty, family and friends looked on under the big tent on the Great Lawn.

"The world we live in has problems, but those problems are not insurmountable," said Simensky, a history major and aspiring attorney. "I truly believe that our time here at LIU Post has prepared us to continue our lifelong pursuit of knowledge and to use the power of knowledge to make a difference in the world. We will be part of the solution, not only for ourselves but for future generations to come."

Dr. Steinberg decried the "widely-held mistrust of all intellectual pursuits so pervasive in our country today."

"Class of 2012, defend your decision to enroll in LIU against those who believe only a tiny privileged elite should pursue higher education," he said. "Do not doubt the value of what you have done at such great expense of personal treasure and energy.  Your task is no less than to protect the values of our humane and plural society in an era of increasing rigidity and open assault."

The keynote speaker was Dr. Steve Collins, M.D., co-founder of Valid Nutrition, which makes and distributes food specially designed to treat and prevent severe acute malnutrition in Africa. Collins said ending malnutrition is more than charity – it's also good business.

"This represents a huge opportunity to dramatically improve the world, whilst at the same time to develop truly ethical business that generates profits, employment and economic growth," he said. "We now need courageous individuals and companies to take the first steps to develop and market to poor people products that prevent malnutrition; products that are made out of locally grown ingredients in local factories."

Distinguished Alumni Awards were presented to Fred Gaudelli, a 1982 graduate of LIU Post and producer of NBC Sunday Night Football and the 2012 Super Bowl;  Class of 1978 alumna Janet DiFiore, a former judge and now Westchester County district attorney, and James N. Macri, Ph.D., Class of 1965, the founding president of NTD Laboratories, a specialty laboratory that focuses on prenatal screening for birth defects.

Collins received an Honorary Doctorate, as did 1968 alumnus Manuel H. Barron, founder and chairman of the board of test prep and educational materials publisher Barron's Educational Series, Inc. Peter J. Neufeld, a partner at the law firm of Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, LLP and co-founder and director of The Innocence Project, which exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA evidence, also was scheduled to receive an honorary doctorate but was unable to attend the ceremony.

The Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Service was presented to George Haralampoudis, a member of the LIU Post Hutton House Lectures Advisory Board and a mentor to international students through the University's Global Connections Mentoring Program.

Simensky, of Locust Valley, N.Y., graduated with a 3.99 GPA and will attend law school in the fall. He is currently interning at the law firm Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo, Cohn, & Terrana LLP of Uniondale, N.Y. He has volunteered weekly at St. Gertrude's Food Pantry for the past 10 years.

The 2012 salutatorian is Melissa Yonelunas of Commack, N.Y., an English adolescence education major with a 4.0 grade point known for her accomplished, insightful writing and inquisitive nature. Actively involved in the LIU Post community, Yonelunas is a member of the Honors Program, the Pep Band and the Flute Ensemble. She also serves as a note taker for the Learning Support Center, providing her class notes for students who need additional assistance. A recipient of the Girl Scout Gold Award, she has taken part in projects including sewing pillows for breast cancer patients and preparing and delivering food to families of women who are fighting the disease.

Commencement 2012 includes the first graduates of LIU Post's genetic counseling master's degree program, the only one of its kind on Long Island and one of just 31 in the nation.

Genetic counselors are experts in the science of genetic testing and hereditary disorders. Their role is to explain health risks to patients and families revealed by genetic testing and to help them make sometimes difficult health care decisions based on the information. Pregnant women older than 35 (whose children are more susceptible to chromosome disorders), women with family histories of breast cancer and parents of newborns with birth defects are among the people most frequently referred to genetic counselors.

LIU Post (formerly known as the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University) is located at 720 Northern Boulevard in Brookville, New York.

Posted 05/04/2012

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