The balconies of the Howard Gilman Opera House were bursting with pride at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) as more than 350 members of the St. Francis College Class of 2011 celebrated their graduation May 18.

CBS 2 news anchor Maurice DuBois delivered a motivating commencement speech detailing some of his career highs and lows. He said that among all the stories he’s covered over the years, one of the most powerful was following Wesley Autry, the man who jumped onto subway tracks to save a person having a seizure. DuBois said that while we all cannot and should not jump onto the tracks, “all he did was help a person in need and we can all do that.”

He offered four basic principles for the graduates to follow, things he has learned through personal experience; “thinking before you talk; setting an example for your family; always having a Plan B and serving your community. I’m here to tell you it all works.”

St. Francis awarded Mr. DuBois an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters as well as a Doctor of Laws to Kenneth R. Feinberg, former Special Master of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund each with. Mr. Feinberg proudly accepted his degree.

“I’m not sure all of you graduates fully appreciated the reputation of this gem of a school,” said Mr. Feinberg. “It goes way beyond this borough. It goes down to Washington and around the country. And for me now to be given this honorary degree from this great school, this gem, means a tremendous amount to me.”

Mr. Feinberg presided over the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund where he was responsible for setting up the process to evaluate applications, determine appropriate compensation and disseminate awards to victims and their families. Mr. Feinberg also was recently designated by the Obama Administration and British Petroleum (BP) to serve as Administrator for the Gulf Coast Claims Facility in response to the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Valedictorian, Chandra Persaud ’11, who moved to New York from Guyana when she was two, thanked her parents for instilling in her the value and importance of a quality education. “Like many other immigrant families, they viewed America as a place to accomplish what seemed impossible in the country in which they were born.” She made the most of that opportunity, maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA while also interning in the Web Strategy Department at National Grid for the last year. Chandra intends to go to graduate school in the near future, but will first test the waters of the job market to gain work experience.

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