A student raised in rural China whose love of science is propelling her to dentistry. A 29-year-old mother pursuing her dream to become a screenwriter. An Anthropology and Women-and-Gender Studies major who worked her way through college as a runway model and hopes to become an actress and entrepreneur.
These are three of Hunter College’s six — yes, six — Valedictorians, each of whom is graduating with a 4.0 GPA. Because the college could not break the statistical tie, the Valedictorians voted to let the budding screenwriter, Veronika Lucchese, give the valedictory address at the college’s winter commencement, which will take place on January 19 at Hunter’s Assembly Hall.
“Each of our Valedictorians has a wealth of life experience in addition to their academic excellence,” said Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab. “We expect great things from all of them, and any of them could have delivered a worthy address. We are pleased that the Valedictorians chose Veronika Lucchese, a young woman with an interesting story.”
The six Valedictorians are:
- Bingyi Dong, who came to New York from China at age 9 but by middle school earned first prize in a science competition. The first in her family to attend college, Dong will pursue a career in dentistry.
- Julia Grygorczuk, who graduates with a degree in psychology and will go on for a master’s in early childhood education. As she teaches Polish children English, she plans to open a day-care-center.
- Veronika Lucchese, who grew up in the Canadian farm belt and overcame crippling social anxiety to get her degree in film while already married and a parent. She wants to write and direct.
- Amireh Rezaei-Kamalabad, who studied economics and classical archeology while working as a waitress. She plans to go into financial services.
- Adriana Kaganovski, a Yalow Honors Scholar in chemistry who has already been accepted to medical school.
- Willow Dickey, who studied Spanish, Mandarin, and Korean and did honors research in paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History. An adventurous spirit, she plans to continue her work as a runway model, actor, and entrepreneur.
About 2,000 students will receive their undergraduate, graduate, or post-doctoral degrees at the commencement, Hunter’s 225th.
Among other students being recognized at the commencement is Syeda Jannath, a 3.93 GPA chemistry major who was named a McNulty Scholar at Hunter, a program for exceptional women in science. Jannath, who has published two peer-reviewed papers and is researching an antiviral treatment for Covid at Rockefeller University, was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship last year.
The best-selling author and supermodel Emily Ratajkowski will deliver the commencement address.
A multifaceted artist, Ratajkowski is an entrepreneur, writer, actor, model, activist, and podcast host, having recently launched “High Low with EmRata,” which explores topics including politics, philosophy, feminism, pop culture, relationships, and fashion.
She has appeared in films and in major fashion magazines and is the face of several fashion and beauty lines. Her 2021 essay collection, “My Body,” — a New York Times Best Seller — explores feminism, sexuality, power, and the exploitation of women in the fashion and film industries.
Also addressing the graduates will be New York City Department of Small Business Services Commissioner and CUNY Board of Trustees member Kevin Kim.