'Dreams Do Not Come Easy': Berkeley College Celebrates More Than 1,400 Graduates Who Persevered through the Pandemic

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 16, 2022
Contact: Kelly Depsee
Director, Communications and External Relations
973-200-1099
KME@BerkeleyCollege.edu
‘DREAMS DO NOT COME EASY’

Berkeley College Celebrates More Than 1,400 Graduates Who Persevered
through the Pandemic

 Berkeley Diploma

Photo Caption: Diane Recinos, EdD, President of Berkeley College (right), presents a diploma to Rheba Singh of Brooklyn, NY, during the Berkeley College Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 13, 2022, at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. More than 1,400 graduates were awarded degrees or certificates.

See the Photos: Click here to see photos from the Berkeley College Commencement ceremony. 

Berkeley College celebrated more than 1,400 graduates who persevered through the COVID-19 pandemic to earn diplomas, during a Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 13, 2022, at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The graduating class included 116 military and veteran graduates, 73 international students from 30 countries, 104 students earning Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees, future healthcare heroes and many first-generation college graduates who reflect perseverance and resilience as they step toward brighter, more equitable futures. 

Who are This Year’s Berkeley College Graduates? Click here to see the infographic. 

“Dreams do not come easy,” said Diane Recinos, EdD, who presided over her first Commencement ceremony as President of Berkeley College. “But you already know that, for you have persevered through a pandemic, in addition to dealing with the unforeseen circumstances and everyday responsibilities of your lives.” 

Recinos added: “As you set your compass to the future, let your dreams be your inspiration and your Berkeley College education be your guidepost.” 

The average age of this year’s Berkeley College graduate is 30 years old, with 67 percent of the graduates age 25 or older. Nearly 80 percent of the graduates who identified their ethnicity in a survey identify as Black or Hispanic. 

“You each have your own unique story of how you came to Berkeley College,” said Kevin L. Luing, Berkeley College Board Chairman. “As an alumnus of Berkeley College, your story continues. As your career progresses, we will always be here to support you in your professional development. You are the future leaders of the workforce and in the community.” 

Berkeley Recinos Luing

Photo Caption (L to R): Diane Recinos, EdD, President of Berkeley College, and Kevin L. Luing, Berkeley College Board Chairman, deliver remarks during the Berkeley College Commencement ceremony on Friday, May 13, 2022, at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. 

Elizabeth Davis, a working mother from Morris Plains, NJ, graduated with an MBA, her third degree from Berkeley College, as she pursues a career in healthcare management. “I chose to stay with Berkeley College because I felt appreciated and they (faculty and staff) basically cultivated me and made me feel included,” said Davis. 

For the past 14 years Davis has been employed as a certified home health and hospice care aide to patients in advanced stages of illness. Her advice to future college students is, “Never give up – believe in yourself.” 

Berkeley DavisPhoto Caption: Elizabeth Davis, a working mother from Morris Plains, NJ, graduated with a Master of Business Administration, her third degree from Berkeley College, as she pursues a career in healthcare management. 

Nearly 100 students graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Practical Nurse certificate, entering the workforce at a critical juncture in healthcare, when one-third of nurses plan to leave the profession. 

What to Watch: Click here to view a segment on the nursing shortage from NJ Spotlight News. 

Commencement honorees included three first-generation college graduates. Gabrielle “Gabby” Peralta of Newark, NJ, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who hopes to become a small business owner running a fleet of bakery trucks, was named Student of the Year. Nallely Inoa of Paterson, NJ, the daughter of parents who immigrated from poverty in the Dominican Republic seeking a better life for their daughters, served as Student Speaker. Jonathan Santiago of Gillette, NJ, Class of 2005, a leader in the New York City Department of Education who helps students find a pathway to higher education, was honored as Alumnus of the Year. 

“We experienced a sudden switch that shook the cores of our classrooms, as we struggled to recognize our classmates behind masks,” Inoa said during her remarks, acknowledging the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the graduates’ college journeys. “Yet regardless of these circumstances, we remained diligent and persistent. We have achieved the status of becoming the leaders of today.” 

Read more Commencement stories: Visit www.BerkeleyCollege.edu/Newsroom 

Berkeley Inoa Santiago Peralta

Photo Caption: Commencement honorees included three first-generation college graduates. L to R are Jonathan Santiago of Gillette, NJ, Alumnus of the Year; Nallely Inoa of Paterson, NJ, Student Speaker; and Gabrielle “Gabby” Peralta of Newark, NJ, Student of the Year. 

Also among the graduates was Philip Sanzari, a 66-year-old entrepreneur whose business was derailed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sanzari, of Garfield, NJ, will seek to begin a new career after receiving an Associate’s in Applied Science in Health Services Administration – Medical Insurance, Billing, and Coding during the ceremony. 

Read More: Click here to read a story about graduate Philip Sanzari on NorthJersey.com.

Berkeley Sanzari 

Photo Caption: Philip Sanzari, a 66-year-old entrepreneur whose business was derailed during the COVID-19 pandemic, will seek to begin a new career after receiving an Associate’s in Applied Science in Health Services Administration – Medical Insurance, Billing, and Coding during the Berkeley College Commencement ceremony. 

Your hard work has finally paid off,” U.S. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey told the graduates in a video message. “You all should be proud of the effort and the grit that has made today possible. Graduating is never easy, but you had to navigate challenges while dealing with a once-in-a-generation pandemic full of uncertainty and turmoil. You’ve shown incredible perseverance in order to come out ahead.” 

“Class of 2022, I have learned that what is inside of you is more important than anything you encounter outside of you,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey in a video message. “Be one of those people that shows up with eyes of hope and wonder. Be one of those people ... who does what you can to add to the promise of the future.” 

Heidi Hoefinger, PhD, Professor, Social Sciences, was selected as the Faculty Speaker. Hoefinger serves as Faculty Advisor for the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, a club that provides a safe space for students, free of bias, stigma or social exclusion. 

“I know it was not easy getting here,” Hoefinger told the graduates. “Look around at your fellow graduates and see all that glorious diversity, all that collective power, all that necessary change. ... There will be more loss, more challenges, more struggles and failure, but you will handle it. As a matter of fact, you will conquer it.” 

The graduates join the ranks of 65,000 Berkeley College alumni from around the world. 

About Berkeley College

Berkeley College, founded in 1931, is a career-focused institution accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that offers students Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs in more than 20 career fields. The College also offers continuing education programs to enhance career credentials.

Berkeley College has campuses in Midtown Manhattan, NY, and in Newark, Woodbridge and Woodland Park, NJ, with more than 4,000 students enrolled. In addition, Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, for nine consecutive years. U.S. News & World Report named Berkeley College (NJ) one of the Best Regional Colleges in the North in its 2022 edition of the Best Colleges Survey.  In 2021 Berkeley College (NJ) was also recognized for the first time as a Top Performer on Social Mobility among colleges in the region. The website address is http://www.BerkeleyCollege.edu.

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