Lehman College Celebrates 55th Commencement
Lehman’s 55th Commencement Ceremony Celebrates 3,500 Grads and Hometown Heroes
On the eve of Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary, it was all about The Bronx at Lehman College’s 55th Commencement ceremony on Thursday, June 1. Honorary degrees, the Mayor’s service award, commencement addresses, and 3,500 graduating students—watched by nearly 7,500 family members and friends—spoke to the challenges, triumphs, and optimism that shape the lives of those who live and learn in the borough.
The Class of 2023 included graduates of the first doctoral program in the College’s history, the Doctor of Nursing Practice, and the first graduating cohort of students from the new School of Business, which is the only public business school in the Bronx-Westchester region.
“We, from the Bronx, we are starters. We are finishers. We Bronx people, we go hard,” said commencement speaker Joseph Saddler— better known as DJ Grandmaster Flash.
Former New York State Assemblyman José Rivera was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters for his lifetime of service to the borough, which included 40 years as an elected official in the Assembly and on the City Council.
Rivera recalled experiences familiar to many Lehman students. Raised by a single mother who relocated to the City from Puerto Rico with few resources, he was determined to create a better life for his family and community. First as a labor organizer, then as a public servant, he advocated for his constituents and rose through the ranks of regional politics to lead the Bronx Democratic Party.
Saddler was awarded an honorary doctorate of music for his foundational role in the development of Hip Hop. “[His music] is a gentle reminder of the intellectual and creative power that has always existed in the Bronx,” said President Fernando Delgado.
As the first DJ to play the turntables like a musical instrument, his work galvanized a new music and dance culture, Hip Hop, that changed the world. But it all started in the Bronx.
Having grown up in the borough, Saddler is proud of the hometown recognition.
“Musically, I’ve got every award that you can possibly have, from Grammys to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but this one right here—because it comes from right here—is the most important.” Saddler told the crowd.
Emphasizing that pride of place, Delgado reminded all Lehman graduates that “even if you’re not Bronx-born, you’re Bronx-made.”