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Baruch College Community Joins Together to Celebrate Class of 2020

To salute the indomitable spirit and remarkable successes of the Class of 2020, Baruch College’s schools, departments, and programs are hosting a calendar chock full of celebratory events.

To salute the indomitable spirit and remarkable successes of the Class of 2020, the College’s schools, departments, and programs are hosting a calendar chock full of celebratory events.

With congratulatory toasts, special happenings, and watch parties online—from Zoom to videos to Instagram stories—a shared message rings through all the activities: #Baruchpride for the resilience and achievements of this year’s graduates amid immense and unforeseen challenges.

Here’s a sampling of what’s happening at Baruch to fully honor the Class of 2020:

Baruch Virtual Commencement Experience on Monday, June 8

Baruch College will hold its 2020 Virtual Commencement Experience on June 8, conferring degrees to 5,357 undergraduate and graduate students from the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, and the Zicklin School of Business. The virtual experience, live at 9:30 a.m., can be viewed on the College’s homepage,

President Mitchel B. Wallerstein, PhD, will preside over the virtual experience, and James McCarthy, PhD, interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, will serve as the master of ceremonies.

To close the commencement experience, President Wallerstein will instruct students to move their tassels, and direct them to online watch parties, associated with their respective schools, for the scrolling of the virtual degrees and calling of graduates’ names.

Student Achievement Awards

Baruch continues the time-honored tradition of recognizing its most outstanding students—those who have achieved academic excellence and community engagement beyond the norm—and have earned Student Achievement Awards. More than 230 students are receiving 216 awards this year. In lieu of an in-person ceremony, these exemplary students will be recognized virtually on June 5 via

Office of Alumni Relations and Volunteer Engagement

To encourage the popular practice of personalizing mortarboards, the Alumni Relations team is asking this year’s graduates to embellish their caps. A showcase of students’ heartfelt messages and creative flair will begin on June 4 in a special cap decorating social media “reveal,” leading up to Baruch’s Virtual Commencement Experience on June 8.

Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs Salutes “Marxe Academic Heroism”

All graduating Marxe undergraduate and graduate students will receive a Marxe Hero Bear during mid-June, and a "Certificate of Academic Heroism" signed by Marxe Dean David Birdsell, faculty directors, and other Marxe Faculty.

On June 8, the Marxe School will also host a virtual Marxe Graduation Celebration party with celebratory toasts, speakers, videos, followed by karaoke and games. All graduates, faculty, and staff are invited. ​

“Our graduates have been through a semester like none other. They have persevered through every imaginable disruption to their jobs, their home lives, their communities, and the kind of learning experience they'd planned. But they stuck it out, and now we celebrate their successes; to all of us in the Marxe School, they are our academic heroes,” said Dean Birdsell.

Weissman School of Arts and Sciences

The School is hosting an online toast to graduates, who are encouraged to wear their caps and gowns, on June 8, immediately following the College’s Virtual Commencement Experience. Graduate Studies also plans a student salute at noon featuring an acknowledgement by Weissman Dean Aldemaro Romero Jr., along with a toast.

To add to the festivities, Weissman’s Office of Graduate Studies created a spirited video honoring 2020 graduates for social media: Watch here. On May 22, Weissman’s English Department honored graduates with an End-of-Year Celebration on Zoom featuring celebratory creative and critical readings, awards, prizes, and recognition for graduating majors.

“Congratulations on your academic achievements. In the years to come, generation after generation, you will be remembered as the rank that graduated during one of the worst years in recent memory,” said Dean Romero. “It was not easy, but there is something you should remember for the rest of your lives. That no matter what, you succeeded. No matter what, nobody, but nobody will be able to take away your education or what allowed you to achieve it: your talent.”

Zicklin School of Business

The Class of 2020 from the Zicklin School will be feted with events geared to graduates from individual programs, including:

  • May 29: Zicklin Undergraduate Honors Program will host a Zoom Graduate Celebration for its 30 graduates, featuring H. Fenwick Huss, Willem Kooyker Dean of the School, and hosted by Professor Gloria Thomas, program director and Tara Sinclair, assistant director. Juan Mendoza, the valedictorian for the Zicklin Undergraduate Honors Program, will address his fellow graduates during the event. Mendoza, who has received an offer for a full-time position as a research analyst at New York Life Investors, will speak about how Zicklin and the honors program provided a foundation of knowledge and experience that will contribute to his personal and professional development for years to come.
  • June 4: Zicklin Graduate School MBA/MS virtual Graduation Celebration with special guest speaker from Google, Cozi Namer, MBA ’03.
  • June 4: Beta Gamma Sigma, the international business honor society, will host a virtual celebration to honor those Zicklin graduates in the organization.
  • June 8: Zicklin Executive Programs Toast with Dean Huss

"As the Class of 2020 approaches commencement, we congratulate them on their hard work and sacrifice, especially in these unprecedented times,” said Dean Huss. “They've managed to complete rigorous degree programs amid the pandemic, and now they're eager to advance in their careers. The world needs their leadership now more than ever." ​

Baruch Honors Program

To celebrate the Class of 2020, the Honors team has been posting videos on its social media.

“Staff will share individual videos congratulating the graduating seniors on all of their accomplishments on our Instagram,” said Jody Vaisman, director, Baruch Honors Program.

While the annual Valedictory Celebration, where students connect with peers, staff and faculty and receive their honors medallion is postponed, Vaisman added: “we will share videos to congratulate students who wrote a thesis and inform our community of the winners of the Susan A. Locke and Outstanding Honors Teaching awards.

“We are so proud to have more than 80 engaged and hard-working honors students who will be graduating this semester!”


The Percy E. Sutton Baruch SEEK Program held its 48th Annual Awards and Scholarship Ceremony, “Vision 2020: Redirection, Reflection & Resilience” on May 15 via Zoom. Watch ceremony here.

“It was especially important this year to continue the tradition of celebrating our students' accomplishments and honoring our 150 SEEK graduates. We hoped that coming together as a community would be a part of the healing process, as well as a way to connect to people who have been part of students’ journeys since the beginning of their college career,” said Betty Duverger, chair of the SEEK Baruch Scholarship and Awards Ceremony.

Highlights of the program included inspiring remarks on the event’s theme by Glenda Grace, CUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Institutional Affairs, Strategic Advancement and Special Counsel.

In addition, graduates heard from two Baruch alumni who offered powerful messages: Marcus Hollon BBA’16, associate at Circle SeedInvest, and Dr. Rudy Murillo BA’02, trauma surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Graduating senior Fatoumata Diallo BBA’20, who will begin her career as a project manager at Dropbox, also spoke at the ceremony.  ​

Starr Career Development Center

  • The Peers for Careers Awards Celebration: The June 15 online event features one graduating senior award recipient, an undergraduate award recipient, four alumni donors, and all alumni recipients of the award since 2013 when the awards were first offered.
  • Starr End-of-Year Awards Ceremony and Celebration: On May 14, Starr staff, graduate interns and assistants, undergraduate interns, Peers for Careers students, trainees, and volunteers participated in a virtual event.

“We celebrated undergraduates from the class of 2020 and four graduate students from the class of 2020,” said Ellen Stein, director, Starr Career Development Center. “We created word clouds on what Starr means to us as well as our wishes for the class of 2020. Each student was publicly recognized by their supervisor and had the chance to say a few words.” 

The celebration also saluted students Sara Fox, who received the Li Au Yeung Peers for Careers Award, and Pragya Mathur, who received the Kong-Mui Peers for Careers Award. Baruch’s 2020 salutatorian, Katherine Dorivitsine, was acknowledged for her role as both a Peer for Career and a member of the 2019 Financial Leadership Cohort. Valedictorian Annemarie Gajdos was also honored as a Max Berger Pre-Law Fellow and a Wendy Heyman Public Interest Fellow. 

Paul Menestrier, chief operating officer of the Baruch Investment Management Group, received a Wendy Heyman Public Interest fellowship. He was honored for participation in the Rising Starr Sophomore Program, and successfully completed the Financial Leadership Program, while working as an EMT. Starr also congratulated 15 peer trainees who completed the first-ever online Peers for Careers Training. Volunteers from its weekly Professional Volunteer Nights were in attendance.

“We also used the gathering as an opportunity to finalize Starr’s video message to the graduating class of 2020—#DearBaruch2020—which is being shared through the Office of Student Life,” Stein said.   

Black Student Union

The Black Student Union planned its 2nd Annual Black Graduation Ceremony 2020 on June 5 to celebrate the accomplishments of Baruch’s Black graduates. The event on Zoom, will be live-streamed through the Student Life YouTube page: at 3 p.m.

New Media Artspace

A group of students associated with New Media Artspace, the teaching exhibition space in the Weissman Department of Fine and Performing Arts, created social media materials to celebrate the Class of 2020. The students created a virtual cap and gown filter for the Instagram (IG) project #ShelterInBaruch. Members of the college community can access the cap and gown and other filters by following @newmediaartspace and using the Instagram app.

In addition to the IG filter, students have created social media packages as a graduation gift to the Class of 2020. These specially designed packages offer a variety of Facebook frames and camera frames for each School as well as one for Baruch.

Baruch College Athletics

The team at Baruch Athletics joined in the campus-wide effort by honoring scholar-athletes with a video to highlight the 2020 athletics class. In early June, the video will go live to salute seniors in a photo slideshow to express gratitude and to feature their sports and honors.

Leading up to the June 8 Virtual Commencement Experience, Baruch Athletics will celebrate student-athletes with awards daily ranging from Team of the Year, Male/Female Athletes of the Year, and various individual sports honors. Of the more than 30 student-athletes to be recognized, at least 15 will be from the Class of 2020.

“During these challenging times, it is my pleasure to congratulate all of our award winners for the 2019-2020 academic year. All of our student-athletes worked hard this year in the classroom, on the playing and practice fields and are well deserving of these honors for their achievements,” said John Neves, assistant athletic director / sports information at Baruch Athletics.

More to Come!

At press time, other groups were still planning their celebratory events, including The Black Male Initiative. We will continue to update this Baruch News item to capture the spirit of #Baruchpride for the Class of 2020.

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(Story published on 5/26/20)

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