Countdown to Commencement: Berkeley College to Honor More Than 1,000 Graduates during Ceremony at Prudential Center

Tuesday, April 23, 2024
Contact: Kelly Depsee
Senior Director, Communications and External Relations


Learn about the Honorees, Speakers, and Additional Graduate Highlights

Berkeley Commencement

Photo Caption: Berkeley College will honor more than 1,000 graduates during its 2024 Commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 9, 2024, at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. 

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Berkeley College will honor the next generation of business, healthcare, and community leaders during its 2024 Commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 9, 2024, at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. More than 1,000 graduates will be recognized at the ceremony. 

DETAILS: 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 9, 2024, at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ 

To attend the Commencement ceremony or schedule an interview with an honoree or graduate, contact: 

Kelly J. Depsee
Senior Director, Communications and External Relations


Faculty Speaker

Berkeley Karakas
Lisa Karakas
Professor, Division of General Education

Lisa Karakas is a Professor of English and English as a Second Language courses in the Berkeley College Division of General Education. She joined Berkeley College in 1996 and teaches a variety of online, on-site, and blended English courses. Karakas loves helping her students gain confidence and improve their English skills, as well as collaborating with her Berkeley College colleagues on various committees. Karakas is a violinist who has played at numerous Berkeley College events over the years. She is a resident of the East Village in Manhattan, NY. 

Alumna of the Year

Berkeley Wynn
Jaime Wynn
President, Jimmy Choo Americas
Bachelor of Science in Fashion Merchandising and Management, 2015

Jaime Wynn is a seasoned leader in corporate strategy who joined the Jimmy Choo business in 2016 as the Vice President of Sales and Planning. She was appointed President of Jimmy Choo Americas in 2021. Wynn’s more than 25 years of experience spans global brand businesses and multiple product categories. She is passionate and committed to progressing diversity in the fashion industry and sits on the Capri Diversity and Inclusion Council. She is also the Executive Sponsor of the Capri ERG, BOLD (Black Organized Leaders and Doers). Most rewarding, she advocates for and mentors young students who are eager to enter the fashion industry. 

Outstanding Student Award Recipient

Berkeley Melone
Tiffany Melone of Clifton, NJ
Bachelor of Business Administration in Health Services Management

Throughout her life, Tiffany Melone has confronted homelessness, domestic violence, and other struggles head-on. After working as a server for 15 years, she enrolled at Berkeley College in Woodland Park. While pursuing her degree, she survived three heart attacks and learned to grow through the depression that resulted from those life-changing episodes. Melone served as secretary of the National Society of Leadership and Success, and led the Mamas and Papas Club in support of student parents. She now helps others through her work in the behavioral health field. 

Student Speaker

Berkeley Peralta Nunez
Jazmin Peralta Nunez of the Bronx, NY
Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies – Criminal Justice

Jazmin Peralta Nunez was born and raised in Santiago, Dominican Republic, and emigrated to the United States in 2019. Despite the numerous challenges she faced as an immigrant in the United States, Peralta Nunez was undeterred in her pursuit of higher education. Peralta Nunez served as president of the Hispanic Familia Club, and was regularly named to the President’s List for her academic achievements. Through the Honors Program, she was recognized as a Community Service MVP for volunteerism. 

NATIONAL NURSES WEEK (May 6-12, 2024) 

At the Commencement ceremony, Berkeley College will join the nation in celebrating the contribution of nurses during National Nurses Week. The observance begins on May 6 and concludes on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. This year, nearly 100 graduates will earn Practical Nurse or Bachelor of Science in Nursing diplomas during the Commencement ceremony. Graduates were recently honored during a nurse pinning ceremony, where the students pledged to uphold the integrity of the nursing profession.

Berkeley Iscoa 
Nursing Graduate
Isabela Iscoa of Perth Amboy, NJ
Bachelor of Science Nursing

Isabela Iscoa served as a Student Speaker for the Berkeley College nurse pinning ceremony on April 12, 2024. “Nursing isn’t just a profession,” Iscoa said. “It is a commitment to care for others during some of their most vulnerable times. It is an act of selflessness that expects no repayment.” Iscoa is employed as a Licensed Practical Nurse with CareOne at Somerset Valley in Bound Brook, NJ, and plans to transition to a role as a Registered Nurse upon passing her licensing exam. “I see myself being successful in the future by continuously acquiring new skills and always being open to learning something new – working at a job in which I truly feel fulfilled, and maintaining the happiness I have found within myself,” Iscoa said.

Berkeley Bettridge 
Nursing Graduate
Jessica Bettridge of Highland Lakes, NJ
Practical Nurse certificate

Jessica Bettridge served as a Student Speaker for the Berkeley College nurse pinning ceremony on April 12, 2024. “My classmates have helped me in so many ways,” Bettridge said. “It is comforting to know your nursing family is right there beside you in the trenches, going through the same struggles you are going through.”

Berkeley Andre 
DAISY Award Recipient
Josette Andre of Union, NJ
Bachelor of Science Nursing

During the Berkeley College nurse pinning ceremony on April 12, 2024, two students received the DAISY Award for their care and compassion in the healthcare profession. Josette Andre was recognized for her selflessness and eagerness to learn. “She has endured loss but continues her pursuit for excellence with such grace and hope,” the nomination read. “The world is a wonderful place because of people like Josie.”

Berkeley Hassan 
DAISY Award Recipient
Yara Hassan of East Rutherford, NJ
Practical Nurse certificate

During the Berkeley College nurse pinning ceremony on April 12, 2024, two students received the DAISY Award for their care and compassion in the healthcare profession. Yara Hassan worked full-time in a pediatric office while pursuing her certification. “I was given extra time with loved ones due to nurses, and I hope to give someone else the same gift,” Hassan said. She was inspired to pursue higher education by her mother, who emigrated to the United States to escape danger and give her children more opportunities. 


Berkeley Amponsah
Erica Amponsah of the Bronx, NY
Associate in Applied Science in Justice Studies – Criminal Justice

Erica Amponsah is employed as a receiving clerk for Fresh Direct and completed her degree through the company’s Corporate Learning Partnership with Berkeley College, which provides employer benefits such as discounted tuition and customized training. Through higher education, Amponsah hopes to advance personally and professionally, and expand her professional network. During her time at Berkeley College, she was regularly named to the Dean’s List for academic achievement. “My advice to incoming students of Berkeley College is to stay curious, stay resilient, and stay connected,” Amponsah said. “I encourage them to explore diverse opportunities, both academically and socially, to discover their strengths and passions.”

Berkeley Chiarini 
Matías Chiarini of Manhattan, NY
Associate in Applied Science in Marketing Communications

Matías Chiarini is a first-generation college graduate from Argentina, who came to the United States to pursue higher education in the “competitive and respected” school system in New York City. “I dream big,” Chiarini said. While pursuing a degree in Marketing Communications, Chiarini engaged his passion for the arts as an usher at the Daryl Roth Theatre. He is employed in Global Member Services for ASCAP, a performing rights organization for songwriters, composers, and music publishers, and will use his degree to make a mark on the media and entertainment industry. “No matter what you’re going through, never give up on your studies,” Chiarini said. “Work hard, study hard, and take care of yourself.”

Berkeley Duner 
Asia Duner of Teaneck, NJ
Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Administration – Management

While Asia Duner’s undergraduate career is ending, she is looking forward to a new journey as she prepares to take the LSATs and apply to law school. Her inspiration is her two children, ages 9 and 3. “I believe in dreaming big and I encourage my kids to do the same,” Duner said. At Berkeley College, she was regularly recognized for her academic achievements and was inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success. As a survivor of domestic violence, Duner plans to become an advocate for survivors of abuse in her community. “Never limit yourself and know that the sky is truly your limit,” she said. “Be dedicated and committed to your goals and never stop until you make yourself proud.”

Berkeley Hendricks 
Brittney Hendricks of Brooklyn, NY
Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing Communications

Brittney Hendricks, a veteran who spent nearly a decade in the U.S. Navy, will serve as part of the color guard during the Commencement ceremony. Hendricks wanted to set an example for her nieces and nephew “that no matter time and age, once you put your mind to something, it is possible.” While pursuing her degree, Hendricks worked as a Business Development Representative for Appspace, a company that focuses on digital workplace solutions. She also volunteers at the New York State Veterans Home at St. Albans in Queens, NY. Hendricks is currently enrolled in the Master of Business Administration program at Berkeley College, and hopes to gain an edge into a new career. She encourages students to view their education as a commitment to themselves. “You won’t always have good days, but remember to utilize your resources and form great peer relationships,” she said. “Prepare yourself for the day you will smile with satisfaction that you kept the commitment to yourself.”

Berkeley Lawson Gilbert
Aleia Lawson Gilbert of Plainfield, NJ
Bachelor of Business Administration in Fashion Merchandising and Management 

Aleia Lawson Gilbert credits the strong women in her family with inspiring her to pursue her degree. “I come from a long line of hardworking women,” Lawson Gilbert said. “My motivation from my family inspired me to reach my goals and follow my dreams.” The graduate seeks to expand her knowledge of the fashion industry so she can one day create a fashion empire. During her time at Berkeley College, Lawson Gilbert was involved with the Student Government Association and the Gender and Sexuality Alliance. She was also employed as a Federal Work Study student with the Berkeley College Library. She encourages incoming students to manage their time, ask for help when needed, and seek support from their professors. “Most importantly, always believe in yourself, for in the end, it will pay off,” she said.

Berkeley Normil 
Charline Normil of Brooklyn, NY
Master of Business Administration in Management

Charline Normil believes the combination of education and experience spells success. Normil is employed as an Office Coordinator for the Gastroenterology Department of Surgery and Digestive Service Line at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. Normil completed her degree through NYC Health & Hospitals’ Corporate Learning Partnership with Berkeley College, which provides employer benefits such as discounted tuition and customized training. With her degree, Normil hopes to advance in her career and be an inspiration to her children. “With a great support system, I was able to overcome any challenges,” Normil said. Her advice to current students is to persist in their pursuit of education, regardless of obstacles. “Do not give up and do not stop,” she said.

Berkeley Sbeih 
Ali H. Sbeih of Paterson and Boonton, NJ
Bachelor of Science in National Security

Ali Sbeih believes success is rooted in action, not words. During his time at Berkeley College, he was a leader in the Student Government Association, the Justice League Club, and founded the Middle Eastern Student Association (MESA). He credits his family as a source of inspiration and support throughout his college journey. “As a first-generation college graduate, my family’s unwavering belief in the power of education has always pushed me to strive for success,” said Sbeih, who emigrated from Palestine as a child and hopes to be a role model for his siblings. Sbeih’s short-term goals include excelling in his current role as a small business consultant. He is enrolled in the Master of Business Administration program at Berkeley College, and hopes to one day employ his degree in the national security sector on the global stage. “My advice to incoming students is to not be afraid to speak up and ask for guidance,” Sbeih said. “Be you! Berkeley College fosters each and every person’s uniqueness and creativity.”

Berkeley Serifi 
Jose Daniel Serifi of Paterson, NJ
Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Jose “Josie” Serifi believes that you can only understand success through the lens of failure. “You have to be realistic and embrace the obstacles,” said Serifi, a first-generation college student. “Do not stress over things you cannot control – it distracts you from what you can do in the present.” During his time at Berkeley College, Serifi was active in volunteerism on campus and through the Honors Program for high-achieving students. He was a student photographer, a Peer Tutor, and served as President of the Fusion Club, a group that encourages students from different backgrounds to network and share their cultures. Serifi secured an internship at BLEND Marketing Group in Montclair, NJ, where he gained experience and insight into the graphic design industry. He hopes to one day run his own design firm. Serifi credits his mother as the greatest pillar in his academic journey. “I owe everything to my mother – without her I would be lost,” Serifi said. “She always believed in me doing well in school and wanted me to pursue something that would make me happy.” 

Berkeley Valentin
Erica Valentin of Dover, NJ
Bachelor of Business Administration in Health Services Management

Erica Valentin’s advice to incoming college students is to “embrace every opportunity for growth and learning.” During her time at Berkeley College, Valentin served as a Federal Work Study student assisting the Campus Operating Officer and was regularly named to the President’s and Dean’s Lists for her academic achievements. While she faced challenges balancing school, work, and family responsibilities, Valentin credits her family, including her sons, as her inspiration. “My family is a significant source of support and motivation,” she said. “Their belief in my abilities has fueled my determination to succeed.” Valentin completed an internship with Zufall Health Center in Dover, NJ, and hopes to use her degree in Health Services Administration “to advocate for patients and families in need, making a positive impact on their lives and the community.” 

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 New York City and in Newark, Woodbridge, and Woodland Park, NJ, with more than 3,500 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 11 consecutive years. Berkeley College is also ranked among the Best Regional Colleges/Universities in the North in the 2023-2024 edition of the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges survey. The website address is