Congratulations, Class of 2020!
Hunter College celebrated its 221st Commencement with its very first virtual ceremony. By video, President Jennifer J. Raab addressed the graduating class, who were all mailed programs, as well as caps and tassels to don at home: “Graduates, I know how hard this time period has been for you and your loved ones,” she said. “I am heartbroken that we can’t celebrate in person, but after challenging yourselves with years of hard work and dedication and accomplishing so much, we wanted to mark this day that would have been your commencement ceremony and acknowledge what you have overcome.”
President Raab commended the fortitude and resilience of the graduating class and urged them to use their now-completed Hunter educations to give back to their community, honoring the Hunter motto, Mihi Cura Futuri, the care of the future is mine. “Hunter has prepared you for the future,” she said, “and in the case of the class of 2020, an unpredicted and unpredictable future. We have given you the tools to discover the extraordinary in yourselves.”
Particularly extraordinary this year are the Class of 2020’s valedictorians; a record number of nine exceptional undergraduate students share the title. President Raab highlighted each of their stories and accomplishments:
Bio major Ahmet Doymaz, a Macaulay Honors Scholar who immigrated to the United States from Turkey as a child, studied cancer and DNA repair during his college career. In the coming year, he will pursue lab research at Rockefeller University and is looking forward to applying to MD/PhD programs.
Chemistry major Elliot Natanov is the son of immigrants who fled antisemitism in Uzbekistan. He will now conclude one career—collegiate wrestling—and pursue a new one—in sports medicine.
English and political science major Erin McDermott is a Macaulay Honors Scholar with literary aspirations. She was the editor of Hunter’s literary magazine and has already completed her first novel.
English major Jadyn Marshall, who won first place in MacMillan’s fan-fiction contest, will travel to Athens on a Fulbright scholarship to teach English. She plans to become a middle school teacher in the New York City school system.
Geography major Evelyn Tawil, daughter of Jewish refugees from Syria, honored her heritage by working with Holocaust survivors and spending a year studying in Israel. She finished her college degree in three years and will start a master’s program in landscape architecture at City College in the fall.
Macaulay Honors Scholar Jennifer Dikler, the daughter of Russian refugees, graduates with a BA/MA in economics and a BA in political science. She is interested in immigration law and international commerce, and she worked as an immigration paralegal at a law firm during her college years. She won a coveted Luce Scholarship to study trade policy in Asia.
Psychology major and Macaulay Honors Scholar Roshan Chudhry volunteered in the Emotion Regulation Lab and served as a peer mentor during her college career. After graduation, while also applying to medical school, she will pursue a fellowship bringing artificial limbs to patients in remote villages and perform research in community health at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Biology major Soham Ghoshal, a Macaulay Honors Scholar, moved to the United States from India when he was three years old. In college, he discovered his love of neuroscience, and after graduation he will work as a neuroscience research associate at Mount Sinai, applying the knowledge he gained as a bioscience major to study opium addiction.
Media studies and English literature major Melissa Lent, the valedictory speaker, is the daughter of immigrant parents—her mother born in the Dominican Republic and her father a Chinese immigrant who came to the United States from Peru. The winner of the Jeanette K. Watson fellowship, Melissa secured three years of internships: first at WNYC, next managing the social media of a charity in Vietnam, and then at WNBC.
Melissa’s valedictory address touted the power of stories. Melissa discovered her passion for journalism when she took her first reporting classes at Hunter.