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LaGuardia Community College graduates cross the stage at Barclays Center

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Nearly 10,000 family members filled the stands at Barclays Center in Brooklyn to send off about 1,600 LaGuardia Community College graduates during Tuesday’s commencement.

The graduates of the Long Island City-based school left the 46th annual ceremony with about 60 different associates degrees and 93 percent had no student debt, according to LaGuardia.

The diverse graduating class spoke 96 native languages and about 71 percent came from families that make under $30,000 per year.

Journalist and Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King spoke about the need to continue the fight for equality and how New York City, despite being a progressive and diverse hold-out, is the unsuspecting front line for bigotry in the United States.

King touched on points that hate crimes have risen in the city while a recent report claimed multiple open bigots and white supremacists are running for public office across the country. The emboldened efforts of bigots have been inspired by President Donald Trump, according to King, who is from Queens.

“It’s hard to understand a moment of history when you’re in it. History is something is best seen and perceived and understood in retrospect, with hindsight,” King said. “Many very horrible moments and errors were not fully understood and appreciated until the horror was full underway... We need to come to grips with the reality that we live in the city that actually created Donald Trump. He was born and raised in Queens... He became the man that he is today in Manhattan... He rose to power in this city.”

King mentioned a chief supporter of Trump in former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and that a number of allegedly racially charged police killings have taken place in the city.

The 2018 class speaker, Karina Ramos-Caraballo, 25, graduated with a 3.95 GPA in Secondary Education alongside her husband in the same class and with their daughter in the stands.

“LaGuardia Community College helps people see their potential by providing a welcoming, diverse atmosphere,” Ramos-Caraballos said. “I am grateful to LaGuardia for opening the door of opportunity and for placing our education in the hands of extraordinary professors... I know that my family is on a better track. My husband, Marcos Ramos, also graduated today. We’re setting a great example for our daughter about the value of education.”

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. delivered remarks as an alumnus of LaGuardia, speaking of his early career as an assemblyman at the age of 22, when he was serving in office while finishing his degree.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

Posted 12:00 am, June 10, 2018
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