An announcement was made last week as to who will be the guest speaker at the 2017 Brooklyn College graduation commencement ceremony, and it is none other than United States Senator and former presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders.
Sanders, the Midwood, Brooklyn native and yearlong alumnus, attended Brooklyn College in the academic year 1959-1960, until transferring to the University of Chicago, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science.
“He is a leading voice in the Senate on income inequality, immigrants’ rights, global warming, renewable energy, campaign finance reform, corporate welfare, universal health care, civil rights, and civil liberties,” said President Anderson in a campus-wide email announcing the speaker. “We are honored to be able to welcome Bernie home this spring to this great college, and to have him send off the Class of 2017!”
— Brooklyn College (@BklynCollege411) February 2, 2017
Pending approval by the CUNY Board of Trustees, Sanders could be granted an honorary degree from Brooklyn College, as according to Anderson.
After a long-fought and contentious election, Sanders lost the Democratic nomination, but still earned great respect amongst college students while campaigning for a “political revolution,” which included many progressive ideas of education reform.
“Although the students carried their own distinct political ideologies, we found that many students expressed a newfound commitment towards political engagement. I can’t help but feel as though Senator Bernie Sanders contributed to this sentiment across our campus,” said Carolina Guarella, CLAS Speaker of the Assembly and psychology major.
Many students look to the ideals of Sanders as proof that politicians share some of the same concerns as them and are acting on them.
— Michelle J. Anderson (@BCPresAnderson) February 2, 2017
“I will be graduating myself and I will not forget what a struggle it was to get through college. The affordability of higher education is an issue that impacts all of us whether we see it or not,” said Florencia Salinas, CLAS president and graduating senior. “Senator Sanders gained the support of students across America because he recognized our struggle and his solution asked that everyone in our society contribute their fair share. I hope he inspires our graduates to keep pushing for affordability in higher education — our future depends on it.”
After an election which elevated political discourse across the campus, the announcement of Sanders accepting to be the guest speaker at the 2017 graduation has many students excited and eager to not only hear his speech, but share that moment as they celebrate the conclusion of their undergraduate studies at Brooklyn College.
“He started a national conversation. He fought for something. He gave meaning to his career. His passion and drive were his fuel,” said Guarella. “My wish for every student wearing a cap and gown this spring is to be as engrossed in the world around us. May they feel as passionate about all of their future endeavors and learn that they can be the change they want to see in the world.”