Class of 2013: Graduates With a Story to Tell

May 16, 2013Bookmark and Share
Commencement 2013

They’ve written final papers and taken final exams. The Ph.D. students have defended their dissertations. Now they’re waiting to hear President Lee C. Bollinger proclaim that they have been “admitted to the degree for which you have qualified” at University Commencement on May 22.

More than 14,000 graduates from 18 of Columbia’s schools and affiliates will be awarded degrees as the 2012-2013 academic year concludes, including those who completed degree requirements in October and February. That night, from dusk until after midnight, the spire of the Empire State Building will be lit in blue and white in honor of Columbia’s graduates.

A 63-year age difference separates the oldest and youngest graduates. At one end is the 83-year-old getting the Ph.D. he started in the 1950s. The youngest, who will earn a B.A. in economics and mathematics, turns 20 in June.

This year’s degree candidates come from more than 100 different countries. Of some 1,700 international students graduating, Columbia Business School has the most international graduates, with 282. And a total of about 120 veterans will be graduating from Columbia, 63 from the School of General Studies alone.

President Bollinger will give the Commencement address, but individual school graduations will feature Tony-award winning playwright Terrence McNally (CC’60), whose work includes Kiss of the Spiderwoman and Ragtime, at Columbia College Class Day; Preet Bharara (LAW’93), U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, at Columbia Law School; ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos (CC’82) at the School of International and Public Affairs; and Grammy Award-winning musician and artist David Byrne at the School of the Arts. The University also will confer seven honorary degrees, honor ten alumni medalists for service to the University and recognize five professors with Presidential Awards for excellence in teaching.

Thousands of great stories will be standing in Low Plaza on May 22. In this issue of The Record we tell just a few of them.

—by Georgette Jasen

From left: Garrett Fitzgerald and Rob van Haaren in the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy   Two Engineers Harness Solar Power to Help Sandy Victims
Rob van Haaren and Garrett Fitzgerald built solar arrays they could tow behind them in small trailers to harvest the sun’s energy in order to bring electricity to those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Center left, Ambassador Matlock translating a letter from a former Russian political prisoner while flying back from Reykjavik on Air Force One following a meeting with Gorbachev in October 1986. From left are: speechwriter Anthony R. Dolan and Patrick Buchanan.   After 60 Years of Public Service, Diplomat Finally Earns His Ph.D.
At 83, the former ambassador to the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia has completed his dissertation in Slavic languages and literatures and is graduating from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Axtmayer running the New York City Marathon in 2011   Nursing Graduate Well Schooled in Cancer Care
Alfredo Axtmayer II will have a unique perspective to share with his patients when he becomes a nurse practitioner with a specialty in oncology. In 2008, when he was 27, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is now in remission.
Shaw is a pre-med student and an intern at the extended care facility for the terminally and chronically ill.   College Graduate Starts Volunteer Program to Comfort Elderly
Ashley Shaw, whose major is biology with a concentration in art history, started the “At Your Service Volunteer Program” for Columbia students at the Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center.
Raman left her career designing banking software in India to follow her passion for journalism.   Software Developer Combines Technology Skills With Journalism in New Dual-Degree Program
Rashmi Raman, along with three other dual-degree candidates, will become one of the first graduates of a two-year program with Columbia Engineering that aims to teach professionals the technical aspects of both digital media and news production.
This summer Mateo will begin a residency in pediatrics with a concentration in urban health and advocacy.   Medical Student Helps Build Bridges to Neighboring Community
In her last year of medical school, Camila Mateo, the daughter of two Dominican-born pediatricians, created a website to help others at the medical school better understand the community around them.
Mulhall in front of a Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle during a stop at a Marine Corps base in Al Anbar Province, Iraq   Brian Mulhall, From the Navy to the Law
In five years of military service in the Navy and over the past three years at Columbia Law School, Mulhall has made great use of opportunities that have landed him a job in the National Security Division at the Justice Department after he graduates in May.
Christopher Harress (JRN'13)   Royal Navy Officer Becomes Journalist
After four years and a day in the Royal Navy, Christopher Harress pursued a bachelor’s in journalism and landed an internship with the Edinburgh Evening News before being accepted to Columbia Journalism School.
Nashwa Khalil (P&S'13)   Physical Therapist Learned Benefits of Program Long Before Graduation
Nashwa Khalil knew the benefits of physical therapy long before she enrolled in the doctor of physical therapy program at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. She began physical therapy as an infant after a birth injury in her left arm.


Check back for more features on this year's graduates.

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Brown Institute for Media Innovation Grand Opening

In Memoriam: Joseph F. Traub

Professor Joseph F. Traub, founder of the Computer Science department, died Monday, August 24, 2015 in Santa Fe, NM. He was 83. Most recently the Edwin Howard Armstrong Professor of Computer Science, Traub was an early pioneer in the field.

Traub's work on optimal algorithms and computational complexity applied to continuous scientific problems. 

Read more about Professor Traub.

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