Rockland Community College Announces 2024 Commencement Plans


Rockland Community College (RCC) is gearing up to celebrate their Spring 2024 graduates, as well as Summer and Fall 2023 conferred graduates, at their 2024 Commencement Ceremony on Monday, May 20, 2024 at 11:00 AM. The ceremony will be held at Clover Stadium, in Pomona, New York. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Alfredo Medina, Jr. who serves as Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and as College Diversity Officer at Bennington College in Vermont.

Dr. Medina brings over 30 years of strategic leadership in the not-for-profit and higher education sector. His transformative impact at Bennington includes fostering an institutional culture grounded in equity and anti-racism, exemplified by initiatives such as recruiting the most diverse faculty cohort in 2022-2023 and recruiting historically diverse undergraduate classes. With a doctorate in educational policy and leadership and a strong commitment to community engagement and social justice, Dr. Medina is a well-respected national expert on DEI matters.

"Dr. Medina’s expertise in diversity, equity, and inclusion will undoubtedly inspire and empower our graduates as they embark on their next chapter,” said Dr. Lester Rápalo, President of RCC. “To our graduates, this ceremony is a celebration of the remarkable dedication and achievements of our students. It marks both a culmination of their current academic endeavors and the beginning of new challenges and opportunities, whether in their immediate professional pursuits or further educational goals."

During the ceremony, executive leadership will be honoring the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence (CASE) winners, Ilyssa Shapiro and Sundari Ruth. Shapiro is graduating with her associate degree in Natural and Physical Sciences through the Sam Draper Honors Program, while Ruth is graduating with her associate degree in Humanities.

“Ilyssa Shapiro and Sundari Ruth embody the exceptional talent and commitment that define our student body at RCC,” said Martin C. Wortendyke, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for RCC. “Their achievements are a testament to their hard work and the supportive environment fostered by our institution.”

Ilyssa Shapiro

Ilyssa Shapiro, a Sloatsburg, NY resident, is about to graduate as a Natural and Physical Science major within the prestigious Sam Draper Honors Program at RCC. Initially beginning her college journey as a senior in Suffern High School’s early-admit program, Ilyssa has seamlessly integrated into the RCC community. As she nears graduation, her focus shifts to transferring to a four-year institution to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology, reflecting her deep-rooted passion for various scientific disciplines, including public health, infectious disease, and molecular biology. Throughout her time at RCC, Ilyssa has relished in the vibrant campus life, actively engaging in various extracurricular activities while fostering meaningful connections with her professors, peers, and faculty members. These experiences have not only enriched her academic journey but have also provided invaluable insights into her personal growth and professional aspirations.

“I have loved becoming an active campus community member and taking in the college experience at RCC,” said Ilyssa. “I have learned so much about myself by trying out so many different things on campus. Additionally, I have really loved all the connections that I have made with my professors, peers, and faculty. They all encouraged me to continue trying new things and explore my interests.”

Sundari Ruth

Sundari Ruth, a resident of Suffern, NY, is completing her final semester at RCC. An active participant both on and off campus, she has left an indelible mark through her diverse involvements. Serving as the Student Government Association President and holding leadership positions within her Sea Scouts troop, she exemplifies dedication and leadership. Additionally, Sundari is Vice President of RCC’s chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success, showcasing her commitment to personal growth and community engagement. With over three years of experience as a public safety student assistant and Sam Draper honors student assistant, she has demonstrated her passion for fostering a supportive environment and facilitating meaningful learning experiences for her peers.

"My favorite part about studying at RCC is the supportive community and opportunity to engage in hands-on learning experiences,” said Sundari. “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this institution because of the sturdy foundation it has granted me.”

Visit to watch the livestream of the ceremony on Monday, May 20, 2024, at 11:00 am if you unable to attend in person.

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About Keynote Speaker Dr. Alfredo Medina, Jr.

Dr. Alfredo Medina, Jr. is a strategic, thought leader with a career that spans 30 years in the not-for-profit and higher education sector with a focus on diversity, inclusion, equity, civic and public engagement, coalition-building, fundraising, risk management, and compliance. Dr. Medina holds a doctorate in educational policy and leadership and master’s degrees in educational administration and policy studies, and educational psychology and statistics from the University at Albany. He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Utica College of Syracuse University and is an alum of the Management Development Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Among his many notable accomplishments, the list includes co-chairing the President’s Task Force for Diversity and Inclusive Excellence and he served as a key institutional liaison with Excelencia in Education on Hispanic/Latinx matters.

About Rockland Community College

Rockland Community College (RCC), located in Suffern, New York, provides purpose driven educational opportunities in a supportive, affordable, and accessible environment, empowering individuals to positively transform themselves and their communities. RCC welcomes students from diverse backgrounds who appreciate small class sizes and personal attention from a distinguished, award-winning faculty that includes Fulbright scholars and SUNY Distinguished Professors. Many graduates go on to top universities to further their education on their own or through RCC’s institutional collaborations. RCC fosters an environment that attracts, recruits, supports, and retains faculty, staff, and students who value diversity. The College promotes a collegial and inclusive environment by recognizing, promoting, embracing, respecting, and celebrating the expansive range and dimensions of cultures, attitudes, ideas, and viewpoints contained within our campus community.

RCC is also proud to provide career training and professional development to adult learners looking to change careers or upgrade their skills through a variety of programs and educational opportunities including workforce training, certifications, and micro credentials. Many of the programs are developed with employers in the community in high demand industry areas to enable graduates to move into a new career upon graduation. More information can be found at

Sundari Ruth
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