Distinguished speakers include former borough president Marty Markowitz '70, and economist and entrepreneur Richard Sandor '62.

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Brooklyn College Graduates Over 4,000 Students at 2014 Commencement Exercises

May 14, 2014

Marty Markowitz '70, Presidential Medal

Dr. Oheneba Boachie-Adjei '76, Honorary Doctor of Science

Judge Edward R. Korman '63, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Dr. Richard L. Sandor '62, Distinguished Alumni Award

Edwidge Danticat, Honorary Doctor of Letters

Shani Abrahams '14, student speaker

 

Brooklyn College will celebrate its 89th Commencement Exercises on May 28 (master's) and May 29 (baccalaureate), with over 4,000 graduating students. Former borough president Marty Markowitz '70 will receive the Presidential Medal at the baccalaureate ceremony for his outstanding career in public service, his dedication to Brooklyn, and his support for his alma mater.

Other distinguished speakers at the baccalaureate ceremony include Dr. Oheneba Boachie-Adjei '76, one of the nation's top orthopedic surgeons, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Science, and Judge Edward R. Korman '63, who will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for his invaluable contributions to the American legal system, and the resolution of landmark cases with far-reaching impact.

Keynoting the master's ceremonies are award-winning author Edwidge Danticat and economist and entrepreneur Dr. Richard Sandor '62. Danticat, who has penned over a dozen acclaimed literary works translated into several languages, will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters. Dr. Sandor will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award for creating the foundation for the U.S. futures market, and for pioneering the field of environmental finance.

Speaking for the baccalaureate class of 2014 is Shani Abrahams, recipient of a B.B.A. in international business administration who chaired the student affairs committee as a Member of the Assembly of the CLAS student government.

A native of Crown Heights, Markowitz moved with his family to public housing in Sheepshead Bay after his father passed away. He attended night courses so he could work during the day to support his mother and two younger sisters.

He is a former New York State Senator and three-term Borough President of Brooklyn. Markowitz co-founded the Flatbush Tenants Council, now known as Brooklyn Housing and Family Services, a year after graduating from Brooklyn College. He founded the Senior Citizens League of Flatbush in 1972 and was elected to the New York State Senate in 1978.

During his 23 years as a state senator, Markowitz led the fight for tenants' rights and protecting those living in rent-stabilized and rent-controlled apartments. In 2001, he was elected Brooklyn Borough President. He continued to focus on housing, neighborhood preservation, and community development, while working tirelessly to nurture and diversify Brooklyn's economy.

Markowitz influenced major initiatives, including construction of affordable housing; the restoration of the Loew's King Theatre; and the revitalization of Coney Island. He was instrumental in the construction of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, homeport for the Queen Mary 2, and in founding the Brooklyn Book Festival; and created the two largest free concert series in city history: the Seaside Summer Concert series, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Concert series.

He played a major role in developing Atlantic Yards in Prospect Heights, which includes Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and soon, the New York Islanders hockey team.

Markowitz has accepted the new post of Vice President for Borough Promotion and Engagement by the city's tourism bureau, NYC & Company.

Dr. Boachie-Adjei is a professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College and Emeritus Chief of the Scoliosis Service at its affiliated Hospital for Special Surgery. He has donated his services to underserved children around the world.

Raised in Kumasi, Ghana, Dr. Boachie-Adjei, nearly died from a gastric condition until his family managed to find one of the few doctors in the country practicing Western medicine. He came to New York City in 1972 with $12 in his pocket, enrolled in Brooklyn College, earned minimum wage as a factory machinist, and took both day and night classes while working as a tutor to supplement his income.

Dr. Boachie-Adjei graduated summa cum laude and earned his medical degree from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1980. He has specialized in the treatment of spine deformities in both adult and pediatric patients. He has raised more than $16 million for the Foundation of Orthopedics and Complex Spine, an organization he founded to provide orthopedic care to underserved populations in Ghana and throughout West Africa.

His honors include the Humanitarian Award from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the Blount Humanitarian Award from the Scoliosis Research Society, the Hospital for Special Surgery Lifetime Achievement Award and, in 2003, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Brooklyn College.

Judge Korman serves on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn. Prior to his appointment as a U.S. district judge by President Reagan in 1985, he served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

After graduating from Brooklyn College, Judge Korman received a Bachelor of Laws degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1966, and a Master of Laws from New York University in 1971. Since his appointment to the bench, he has presided over milestone cases.

In 1989, he ordered the extradition of a member of the Abu Nidal Organization to Israel to stand trial for a terrorist attack on a bus traveling between the West Bank and Tel Aviv that killed the driver and injured one passenger. He rejected the argument that the crime fell within the political offense exception to extradition. He observed, “Providing refuge for those who seek political change is one thing, making the United States a haven for those who engage in conduct that ‘violates our own notions of civil strife' is quite another matter.”

Judge Korman played a critical role in bringing about the $1.25 billion settlement in the class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of thousands of Holocaust survivors and their families against Swiss banks who had refused to return assets secretly deposited after the Nazis came to power. 

In 2013, he delivered the landmark ruling that enables women of all ages to have access without a prescription to an emergency contraceptive known as a morning-after pill. Judge Korman has been awarded the Federal Bar Council's Learned Hand Medal for Excellence in Federal Jurisprudence and the New York County Lawyers' Association's Edward Weinfeld Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Administration of Justice.

The multilingual Danticat, who speaks Kreyol, French, and English, emigrated from her native Haiti to Brooklyn and by the age of 14, published her first work, “A Haitian-American Christmas: Kremace and Creole Theater,” in New Youth Connections.

She received her Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Barnard College and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Brown University. Her first novel—Breath, Eyes, Memory—was an Oprah's Book Club selection in 1998. She is a multiple National Book Award nominee for Krik? Krak! in 1995, which, at 26, made her the youngest nominee ever, and then for Brother, I'm Dying in 2007.

Danticat is also the winner of the 1995 Pushcart Prize for her short story “Between the Pool and the Gardenias”; the 1999 American Book Award for The Farming of Bones; the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Brother, I'm Dying; and the 2009 recipient of the MacArthur Fellows Program Genius grant. Her latest novel, Claire of the Sea Light, a Publisher's Weekly pick, was named “Editor's Choice” and one of the “100 Notable Books of 2013” by The New York Times.

An activist for the civil rights of Haitians in Haiti and in the diaspora, Danticat has been named to lists of influential people, including The New York Times' “30 Under 30,” Harper's Bazaar's “One in 20 People in Their Twenties Who Will Make a Difference,” and Jane magazine's “15 Gutsiest Women of the Year.” She was the writer and narrator of the 2009 documentary film Poto Mitan (a Kreyòl term roughly translated as “the moral or spiritual center of the universe”), which examines the historical and contemporary impact of colonization and globalization on Haitian society through the eyes of five working-class, native Haitian women.

A businessman, economist, and entrepreneur, Dr. Sandor's work in developing the first interest rate futures contract in the 1970s earned him the title “father of financial futures.” In the 1990s, he helped push for and won federal cap-and-trade legislation that would put a hard cap on emissions and set up a trading system among industries.

In 2003, Dr. Sandor founded the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), the world's first exchange to facilitate the reduction and trading of greenhouse gases. CCX would become part of a larger Climate Exchange network that would include the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange, and exchanges throughout Europe and the first emissions exchange in China.

Dr. Sandor received his B.A. in economics from Brooklyn College, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Minnesota. He served as vice president and chief economist of the Chicago Board of Trade. He is the chairman and CEO of Environmental Financial Products, LLC, which specializes in inventing, designing, and developing new financial markets.

He is a lecturer in law and economics at the University of Chicago Law School; a Visiting Fellow with the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at the University of Oxford; and a member of the TERI School of Management Advisory Committee in India. Dr. Sandor is the author of Good Derivatives: A Story of Financial and Environmental Innovation, and is the main author of Environmental Markets: A New Asset Class. In 2007 he was named by Time magazine as one of its “Heroes for the Planet” and the magazine also named him one of the “Heroes of the Environment.”

Dr. Sandor received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 2004. In 2012, he was presented with the World Federation of Exchanges Award for Excellence. In 2013, Dr. Sandor was named Chevalier dans l´ordre de la Légion d´Honneur (Knight in the French National Order of the Legion of Honor), the highest decoration granted by the French government, for his accomplishments in the field of environmental finance and carbon trading.

Abrahams, a transfer student, was captain of the women's soccer team from 2012–2014 and was named the 2012 CUNYAC/Applebee's Women's Soccer Rookie of the Year. The soccer team went on to win the 2013 CUNYAC soccer title and Abrahams received an honorable mention as a scholar athlete. Earlier this year, she visited China as part of the 2014 Study Abroad program.

Abrahams received the Robert J. Sisti Internship Stipend Award in 2013 and interned at Office of Tax Policy at the U.S. Department of Finance, where she is now interning in the Treasury Division. Abrahams hopes to become a financial analyst and pursue a career in non-profit management.

 

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