Class of 2013: Graduates With a Story to Tell
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
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
Columbia University mourns the death of Robert Belknap, professor emeritus in the Department of Slavic Languages, who died March 17. An expert in Russian literature, particularly Dostoyevsky, he also taught Literature Humanities in the Core Curriculum for 50 years and influenced generations of Columbia students. For more information, please visit this page.
Mary Bassett, associate professor of clinical epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, was named New York City’s commissioner of health.
University Professor Ronald Breslow won the 2014 American Institute of Chemists Gold Medal, the AIC’s highest award.