More than 2,000 graduates will don their caps and gowns as they cross the stage to receive their hard-earned college degrees. Honorary degrees will be bestowed on six commencement speakers for their outstanding contributions and exceptional leadership in the fields of health and natural sciences, media, business, education, social sciences and nursing.
Mercy College will celebrate 2,036 graduates from the Class of 2023 at six commencement ceremonies to be held on the Dobbs Ferry Campus May 16, 17 and 18. School graduation celebrations will include addresses given by selected student speakers and the conferring of degrees by Mercy College President Tim Hall. During each ceremony, honorary degrees will be bestowed upon individuals, including distinguished Mercy College alumni, who have demonstrated a commitment to giving back to their communities and exceptional leadership in the fields of health and natural sciences, media, business, education, social sciences and nursing. In addition to the in-person ceremonies, all commencement addresses and awarding of diplomas will be live-streamed for families, friends and guests of the graduating students.
“No question, commencement is my favorite event in the life of the College and our students,” said Tim Hall, president of Mercy College. “This is how we measure success: not just by whether they got in, but when they got through and earned their degrees. I feel such pride as I watch them cross the stage and get their degrees because I know how hard they have worked and the challenges they have overcome to get here. It is especially poignant for me as these are the last graduates upon whom I’ll confer degrees before I retire. I celebrate them, and the family, friends, faculty and staff who supported them along the way.”
The Mercy College 2023 honorary degree recipients include:
School of Liberal Arts: Jorge Ramos is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning journalist and retired news anchor, primarily known for his work leading Telemundo New York’s flagship evening newscast, Noticiero 47. Throughout a career spanning an impressive four decades, Ramos became one of the most respected names in local New York journalism, recognized for his enduring commitment to telling the stories of the tri-state area’s diverse and expansive Latino communities. Known for a delivery style that is equal-parts elegant, warm, and reassuring, Ramos’s daily evening broadcasts filled a dual-role unique to Spanish-language news of both informing the viewers about breaking news of the day, as well as serving as a welcoming beacon and familiar touchpoint for millions of Spanish-speaking immigrants who made New York City their new home. Ramos will be receiving a Doctor of Letters.
School of Health and Natural Sciences: Pablo Castillo, M.D., Ph.D. is a professor of neuroscience and psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Castillo is a world expert in synaptic plasticity, a biological process critically involved in experience-dependent modifications of brain function. He has made significant contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms and functional relevance of various activity-dependent plasticity forms at both excitatory and inhibitory synapses under normal and pathological conditions. In his studies, he combines molecular, genetic, pharmacological, and electrophysiological techniques in the mammalian brain, both in vitro and in vivo. His work has been published in top-tier journals, and he is the author of several widely cited review articles and book chapters. Castillo will be awarded a Doctor of Science.
School of Education: Cindy V. Lopez ’07, M.S. ’08, M.S. ’11 is the superintendent for the Charter School of Educational Excellence in Yonkers and has served in that capacity since 2019. She also serves the Mercy community as a member of the Board of Trustees. Under Lopez’s leadership, the School has expanded to a high school and been designated by the New York State Education Department as a Reward School and Recognition School for six consecutive years for proving to close the achievement gap for high-risk students. She has been recognized for her innovation and contributions to education in her receiving of the Principal’s Award from Phi Delta Kappa; Educator of the Year Award from the Yonkers Mexican American Chamber of Commerce; and the Visionary of Hope Award from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). Lopez will be awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters.
School of Business: Michael Rochelle is a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General and Co-Founder and President of MDR Strategies, LLC, an executive, leadership and team coaching firm. He also serves the Mercy community as a member of the School of Business Advisory Board. General Rochelle is a professional certified coach and public speaker who specializes in working with C-suite leaders, high potential executives, and boards pursuing continued excellence in ever-challenging leadership and governance environments. He is a George Mason University Center for the Advancement of Well-Being Coaching Fellow, a George Mason University coach training faculty member and a coaching Fellow with the Institute of Coaching, of the McLean/Harvard Medical School Fellow. Rochelle will be awarded a Doctor of Commercial Science.
School of Social and Behavioral Sciences: Diana D’Amico Juettner, J.D. is a Professor of Legal Studies at Mercy College. She has served Mercy College and its surrounding community for decades. Since beginning her career at Mercy in 1985, she has held many roles, including program director for legal studies, co-chair of the Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, chair of the Department of Social Sciences, interim dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and professor of legal studies, among others. She was instrumental in the development of Mercy’s Dispute Resolution Certificate, a sought-after program that provides students with knowledge of high-demand conflict management strategies and skills. As a 29-year member of the Town Board in Greenburgh, she championed resources and support for initiatives that bettered the Mercy Dobbs Ferry campus community. Juettner will be awarded a Doctor of Laws.
Nursing: Berthilde Dufrene, DNP, M.S. ’07 is the chief nursing officer at the New York State Office of Mental Health Corrections Based Operations. She is both a general practitioner and a specialist with a nursing career that encompasses many areas, including pediatric and adult psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, correctional nursing, addiction, geriatric nursing, intellectual and developmental disabilities nursing, and nursing education. Dufrene is also a published author and has been in the positions of lecturer and a clinical instructor. She has served as both a leader and member of many community organizations, such as the NAACP of Spring Valley, NY, the Haitian American Nurses Association of Hudson Valley New York, Inc., the Professional Nurses Association of Rockland County and the International Nurses Society on Addictions. Dufrene will be receiving her Doctor of Science.
For complete details about each of Mercy College’s Commencement ceremonies, including date, time and location, and to watch the live stream, please visit https://www.mercy.edu/campus-life/commencement.