Photo by Curtis Ashley
By Curtis Ashley
It was a sight to see: thousands of City College graduates, and their families, covered the Great Lawn on South Campus to witness history. People lined up as early as six in the morning to watch Michelle Obama, the guest speaker, deliver her final commencement speech as the First Lady of the United States. However, and just as important, the graduates were there to make their own history as well — as the graduating class of 2016 taking part in City College’s 170th Commencement ceremony.
Mrs. Obama’s speech, which lasted over 23-minutes, touched base on a number of topics, such as access to higher education for immigrants in the U.S.: “City College became a haven for brilliant, motivated students of every background, a place where they didn’t have to hide their last names or their accents, or put on any kind of airs because the students at this school were selected based not on pedigree, but on merit, and merit alone.”
Other speakers at the ceremony included City College President Lisa S. Coico, New York Senator Charles Schumer, and the valedictorian and salutatorian of the 2016 graduating class, Andoni Mourdoukoutas and Orubba Almansouri, respectively. While Schumer cut his presence at the lectern short, both Mourdoukoutas and Almansouri had plenty to say. The valedictorian spoke of the culture-shock he experienced when he arrived at City College and his admiration for the school’s diversity. The salutatorian gave a strong, emotional speech about the obstacles she overcame and the stereotypes she shattered on her way to her degree.
The 170th Commencement at City College was one that will be remembered in the history books and remains a spectacle all should see. In case you missed it or hope to relive the moment, check out photos of the commencement on our Facebook page and watch Michelle Obama’s speech in its entirety below.