Marcos Rocha Jr. Columbia University Grad 2016
Marcos Rocha, Jr., grew up in Spanish Harlem, but went halfway around the world with the Marines before he got to the University. It was during those tours of duty that Rocha saw the serious psychological issues faced by returning veterans.
Commencement 2015
Columbia University celebrates the Class of 2015.

Patrick Poorbaugh enlisted in the Marines during his senior year of high school and left for basic training soon after graduation. “We were in the middle of two wars, and I didn’t want to let others do the job,” he said. “And I knew I wasn’t ready for college.”

More than 30 years ago, biological sisters Lizzie Valverde (GS’15) and Katy Olson (GS’14) were adopted by different families. In the spring of 2013, they met by chance in a nonfiction seminar at Columbia’s School of General Studies.

Freshman orientation, 2011. Steven Bennett was playing cello in his dorm room on the 15th floor of John Jay Hall when he heard a knock on his door. When he opened it, another student with a broad grin exclaimed, “Cello!”

Columbia commencement
Columbia University will confer six honorary degrees and recognize the alumni recipient of its University Medal for Excellence at its annual Commencement exercises on Wednesday, May 20.
From left: Garrett Fitzgerald and Rob van Haaren in the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy

Back in 2010, when graduation still seemed remote and intangible, Rob van Haaren and Garrett Fitzgerald agreed to celebrate their Ph.Ds—whenever they might finish—by piloting a pair of motorcycles from New York City to California.

When Columbia held its first graduation in 1758, seven men received their bachelor’s degrees. Now, more than 14,000 graduates of Columbia’s 18 schools and affiliates will earn their degrees on May 21.

Columbia Engineering School graduating senior Ruby Robinson had an unexpected surprise at the school’s Class Day graduation ceremony during Commencement week. The computer science major assumed that her father, U.S.

Making a green graduation gown.

When students assemble this year for Commencement, their gowns will look blue but half of them will be green, thanks to material made from recycled plastic bottles.