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Nearly 950 Graduates March in Commencement

James P. Hynes speakingJames P. Hynes '69, '01H, the morning keynote speaker
Students earning bachelor's and master's degrees participated in Iona College’s 73rd Annual commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 20, in the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. 
Among the speakers at the morning undergraduate ceremony were student government President Kayla Kosack ’17 and Christopher M Gillen ’17. U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York also greeted the Class of 2017.  

Entrepreneur James P. Hynes ’69, who received an honorary degree from Iona in 2001, gave keynote remarks for the morning ceremonies that included about 690 graduating seniors and a full house of family and friends. 
“Believe in yourself or how could you expect anyone else to believe in you,” Hynes told the graduates. “Always treat people fairly. They’ll trust you, and it will come back to you in spades. And if faced with an ethical challenge, immediately recognize there is no challenge – you do the ethical thing. I’ll leave you with a thought to ponder regardless of the field in which you may endeavor: If you don’t look up, you’ll always think you’re at the highest point.”
Afternoon speakers included new master’s degree recipients Elisa-Marie Santobelli and Guilia Lopez. Laurence M. Downes '79, '81MBA, who has been CEO of New Jersey Resources (NJR) since 1995, was the keynote speaker in the afternoon ceremony. 
“Whatever direction life takes you, you can be confident that your diploma from Iona will give you both the educational tools to unlock your potential and the values so desperately needed in our world today,” Downes told the approximately 250 students receiving master’s degrees. “These are values of integrity, collaboration, compassion and, yes, faith. While a solid education is a great foundation, it is your values that will guide you when the road gets rough.”
Madison Square Garden in New York City, site of Iona's 2017 Commencement
President Joseph E. Nyre, Ph.D., congratulated the graduating students and shared some of his thoughts. “Attend to the moments and experiences between beginnings and endings,” he said. “This is where life takes place, where wisdom is obtained, where virtue is exemplified. The moments and experiences between your first day at Iona College and this day is where your friendships, your education, your wisdom and your virtue evolve.”
Video of both ceremonies and other content is available on Also see social media posts.