WATCH — Ray Romano, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & Other Famous New Yorkers Join a Virtual Graduation Celebration Toasting the City University of New York’s Class of 2020

June 16, 2020

When more than 50,000 students graduate from the largest public urban university system in the country in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s a milestone that should be marked in a special way to match an extraordinary accomplishment. 

So while students aren’t able to physically gather for a graduation ceremony this year with a lead commencement speaker, the City University of New York created a unique 18-minute video to celebrate their Class of 2020. The virtual commencement speeches, of sorts, are studded with well wishes and congratulations from well-known New Yorkers and famous CUNY alumni such as comedian Ray Romano (Queens College), New York State Attorney General Letitia James (Lehman College), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (Queens College) and writer and comedian The Kid Mero (Hunter College). 

“Congratulations. You deserve more than me. You don’t deserve to be in quarantine. Somebody cool should be here saying stuff to you,” Romano tells the graduates in the video. “Come on, Drake should’ve been here. Why not Drake?” 

The video also features high-profile public officials such as Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Sen. Charles Schumer, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien. 

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“We need your talent, your energy, your resolve and your character to get through this difficult time,” Fauci tells the students.


A Chancellor’s View: Celebrating the Bravery and Perseverance of the 50,000-Plus Members of the CUNY Class of 2020

“This year’s been kind of a weird one, but there are so many great things on the horizon for you,” O’Brien said.

The video also includes student performance and speeches from class valedictorians, salutatorians and college presidents. 

In an essay, CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez called the Class of 2020 “uniquely resilient” and noted the accomplishments of individual students.

By JoAnne Wasserman


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