Commencement: The Class of 2017

May 10, 2017
Commencement at Columbia University

This is a moment of new beginnings both for Columbia, as the University opens the first two buildings on its new Manhattanville campus, and for the more than 15,000 members of the Class of 2017 who graduate on May 17. Proving that you’re never too old—or too young—to earn a degree, the Class of 2017 includes Michael Shannon, 82, who will receive a master’s degree in anthropology, and Wanying Li, 19, who will graduate from the Engineering School with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering.

Among the Class of 2017 are almost 200 military veterans as well as some 2,200 international students from more than 110 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

All will be waiting to hear University President Lee C. Bollinger proclaim that they have been “admitted to the degree for which you have qualified.” And after dark, the Empire State Building will be lighted in blue to honor the Columbia Class of 2017.

mailman School of public health

Richard Gamarra

Richard Gamarra


"With my background, I’m now in a position where I can try to change things for people."

Read the Full Story

College of Physicians & Surgeons

Elise Bixby

Elise Bixby


"What I really value comes down to education and medicine. If you’re not healthy and don’t get an education, it’s much harder to fulfill your potential."

Read the Full Story

School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation

Majed Abdulsamad

Majed Abdulsamad


"What’s the point of designing a beautiful interior with comfortable furnishings if the whole building is going to be blown up?"

Read the Full Story

College of Dental Medicine

Victor Lee

Victor Lee


"I’m very lucky that I didn’t get into dental school the first time I tried."

Read the Full Story

Columbia Business School

Neil Duncan

Neil Duncan


"I took a team [to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro]. We called it 'Three Guys One Leg,’ there were two double amputees and a single amputee."

Read the Full Story

Columbia Law School

Daily Guerrero

Daily Guerrero


"I felt this sense of urgency to become a lawyer quickly and help other immigrants navigate our complex laws."

Read the Full Story

Columbia College

Jordan Brewington

Jordan Brewington


"I learned a lot more about myself because I was forced to be with people who are very different from me. It’s been a powerful, deeply moving experience being here.”

Read the Full Story

Data Science Institute

Amir Imani

Amir Imani


"I always loved making and breaking things. Coding gave me a way to explore the enigmatic world of computers."

Read the Full Story

Columbia Engineering

Jonny Cohen

Jonathan Cohen


"What is science good for if it can’t be used to help people?"

Read the Full Story

Department of Music

Tyshawn Sorey

Tyshawn Sorey


"I like participating in these interconnected forms of music without feeling I have to belong to any one of them."

Read the Full Story

Columbia college

Lorna Hale

Lorna Hale


"I don’t think that if I had stayed in a regular school that I would have ended up where I am today."

Read the Full Story

Columbia Engineering

Vikas Arun

Vikas Arun


"There are a lot of patterns in tap dance, similar to the patterns found in mathematical modeling."

Read the Full Story

Columbia Law School

John V. Allen

John V. Allen


"There are lots of wrongs being done in the world. I’ve been encouraged by the people here who are pointing them out and want to right them."

Read the Full Story

College of Dental Medicine

Christina Gianfrancesco

Christa Gianfrancesco


"People talk about public health like it’s a soft science, but it’s not. It tackles major issues. Getting dental care to a huge population is a complex issue."

Read the Full Story

Columbia College

Jessica Swanson

Jessica Swanson


"I think I will walk away from here with a perspective on rights issues I care about, violence against women and social justice, and hopefully that will help me as an advocate for a nonprofit."

Read the Full Story

Columbia Engineering

Shyno Mathew

Shyno Mathew


“Our products are geared to eliminate the social fear associated with STEM topics like math and break the stereotype that STEM is exclusively for geeks."

Read the Full Story

Columbia College

Yonghak Roh

Yonghak Roh


"I actually had a chance to lead a lecture at Columbia as part of SIPA, on energy, natural resources and conflict."

Read the Full Story

Columbia Law School

Katherine Barrett

Katherine Barrett


"The queer community has made a big difference in my life. People get very attached to their affinity groups here, and they pass down institutional knowledge."

Read the Full Story