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Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 1:00pm

Mercy College’s 83rd Commencement Exercises took place on Tuesday, May 15 and Wednesday, May 16 at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. Tuesday’s speakers included Mr. John Thompson who spoke at the School of Business ceremony and the Honorable Victor M. Pichardo who spoke at the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences ceremony. Wednesday’s speakers included Mr. Richard P. Swierat who spoke at the School of Health and Natural Sciences ceremony and Dr. Betty Rosa who spoke at the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Education ceremonies.



(Above, the Mercy College Class of 2018 stands to move their tassels from the right to the left to signify their graduation in a time-honored tradition.)


Mr. John Thompson received the honorary degree of Doctor of Commercial Science. Thompson graduated from Mercy with a bachelor’s degree in business in 1982 and is still very involved with Mercy today. Notably, he serves on the Mercy College Board of Trustees and is also a Ronnenberg Legacy Society Member.

Now retired, Mr. Thompson most recently worked for as senior vice president and general manager. Previously, he worked in senior leadership roles at Liz Claiborne Inc., Goody's Family Clothing Inc., and VF Corporation’s Lee Apparel Company Inc. Earlier in his career, he founded Quick Response Service and held various positions at General Electric Information Services.

In addition to his work with Mercy, Mr. Thompson serves on the board of directors of several companies and organizations, including the Norfolk Southern Corporation, Belk Inc., the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, The Boys Scouts of America and the Cristo Rey Jesuit High Schools Network. He was a 2012 recipient of the Roger Milliken Lifetime Achievement Award from the Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions Association.


The Honorable Victor M. Pichardo received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.  Pichardo is a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly representing the 86th New York State Assembly District, which includes the University and Morris Heights, Mount Eden, Kingsbridge, Tremont, and Fordham sections of the Bronx. He is a strong proponent of tenants’ rights and affordable housing, employment and job creation, public safety, education, and immigration.


After spending four years early in his career working for United States Senator Chuck Schumer, Mr. Pichardo served as Associate Director of Public Relations at Mercy College before joining New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera’s staff as Director of Community Affairs.


In November 2013, he was elected to the New York State Assembly in a special election after a campaign endorsed by Senator Schumer, New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera, and then-Bronx Democratic Party Chairman Carl Heastie. In 2014 and again in 2016, he was re-elected to full terms.

Mr. Pichardo attended the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with double minors in English and sociology. He spent his childhood living in the Fordham section of the Bronx, Inwood in Manhattan, and the Dominican Republic.

Mr. Richard P. Swierat received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Swierat serves as the Executive Director of The Arc Westchester, a role he has held for the past 34 years. The Arc Westchester aims to support children, teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities — including individuals on the autism spectrum — and their families. Under Mr. Swierat’s leadership, the organization has grown exponentially to provide daily services to approximately 2,000 people.

Mr. Swierat is also an adjunct professor at Western Connecticut State University's Ancell School of Business. In addition, he frequently speaks at state and national meetings on topics such as guardianship, quality metrics, family advocacy, and person-centered planning in residential and vocational services.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y.; a master's degree in special education from the State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo; and a post-master’s degree certificate in school administration from SUNY New Paltz. In 2006, Mr. Swierat completed coursework for a doctorate in applied management and decision sciences at Walden University. He grew up in Buffalo and lives in Hopewell Junction, N.Y. with his wife of over 34 years.

Dr. Betty Rosa received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Rosa serves as chancellor of the Regents of the State of New York, which is responsible for supervising all educational activities in the state. She was first elected to the Board of Regents to represent the 12th Judicial District (Bronx Country) starting in 2008 and re-elected twice, most recently for a term starting in 2018. She is also the president of B.D.J. & J. Associates LLC, a company she founded in 2005 that provides consulting services to large urban school districts throughout the country and to companies in the educational services field.


Early in her career, Dr. Rosa worked as a bilingual paraprofessional, teacher, and reading coordinator in New York City public schools. Over time, she became an assistant principal, principal of P.S. 53, and then principal of I.S. 218, a full-service community school in the Inwood section of Manhattan. In 1998, New York City Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew appointed her to the position of superintendent of Community School District 8 in the Bronx. Crew’s successor Harold Levy later appointed her to serve as the senior superintendent of the Bronx.


Dr. Rosa received the Education Award at the 2011 Mercy College Bronx Leadership Dinner, and she also served as a committee member on the Mercy College School of Education Advisory Board.


She has received many additional awards for her outstanding service and leadership, including the Latina of the Year Award from the New York State Assembly and Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force and the Outstanding Leadership Award from the International Conference of Education, Sustainable Development, Leadership, and Policy. She was elected to the Alumni Council of Harvard University's Graduate School of Education and also appointed to the Principal/Site Administrator Advisory Committee of the American Association of School Administrators.


Dr. Rosa earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the City College of New York (CUNY) and holds two master’s degrees in education, one in administration and supervision from CUNY and the other in bilingual education from Lehman College. She also received a master’s degree and a doctorate in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard University.



(Above, College President Timothy Hall addresses the graduating class during Commencement.)