Over 7,600 Stony Brook University students dropped off at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium to participate in the 2022 Graduation Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 20.
The students were part of one of the largest graduating classes in the university’s 65-year history. They earned a combined total of 7,610 degrees and certificates. The class of 2022 included students from 68 countries and 45 states, and the students ranged from 19 to 71 years old. In addition to the in-person event, it was streamed live.
During the ceremony, director Todd Haynes received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts. Over the past four decades, he has participated in several film and television projects as a director, screenwriter and producer. He won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for his work on “Poison,” an American sci-fi drama horror film he also wrote. Haynes is a longtime friend of Christine Vachon, founder of the Stony Brook MA in Film, and has often collaborated with her and lectured to students in the program.
Haynes had some advice for graduates.
“I just wanted to thank the remarkable teachers in my life, who I believe gave me the tools to engage with a history and a culture that contained all the contradictions and many challenges that we face today, you face today,” he said. “They helped me feel inspired to take on these challenges, not to back down or even impose my own solutions, but to dig deeper, to raise questions and respond in my own way, which I have the unique privilege of doing as a filmmaker. I wish every student here today that kind of openness, those kind of tools as you all step out into this wild world. You deserve to feel as optimistic and inspired as I did at your age and to know that you embody all of our best hopes and sweetest dreams.
Speakers at the event included SBU President Maurie McInnis, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Class of 2022 student speaker Ahmed Syed, a biology major. During his speech, Syed told fellow SBU students about his parents who moved to the United States from India when they were in their 30s. Syed’s three brothers are also SBU graduates, and his older brother, who is now a doctor in Florida, was the student lecturer when he graduated from college.
“Stony Brook wasn’t just a college our family went to, it was our heritage,” Syed said. “Understand that my parents came here with nothing and now their four sons are college graduates. Not just four college graduates, but four Seawolves. It’s nothing more than a testament to what Stony Brook stands for.
After acknowledging the class’ outstanding students, McInnis praised all of the members who she says have inspired her and others.
“By joining the more than 200,000 Stony Brook alumni around the world, I hope you will stay connected to this unique and passionate community,” said the university’s president. “I hope you continue to see Stony Brook as a second home, a home that celebrates all you accomplish, strengthens your critical outlook, and supports your most ambitious endeavours.”
She quoted Jackson Pollock who once said, “Each age finds its own technique.”
“With the Class of 2022, it’s very clear to me that your technique is to maintain a truly creative and collaborative spirit that will be your path forward,” McInnis said. “I know you will grow together as individuals with a sense of discovery, ambition, innovation and artistry. Stony Brook University is incredibly proud of all you have accomplished here. – and everything you will continue to create.