Newsroom Archive


More Than 2,800 Students to Graduate From John Jay College of Criminal Justice on Thursday, May 27

Pulitzer Prize Winning Author Taylor Branch,
Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist
Seymour Hersh and Award Winning Playwright Anna Deavere Smith

New York, NY, May 18, 2010 –  Students, alumni, faculty and guests will gather in the Madison Square Garden Theatre for the College’s Commencement exercises on Thursday, May 27,  2009, at 10:30 AM and 3:30 PM. College President Jeremy Travis, will open both Commencement ceremonies. The day is the high point for undergraduate and graduate students who have worked diligently in pursuit of academic excellence. 

The 2010 class gift will be given to Living Beyond Belief. This organization was selected because of its commitment to saving lives by fostering HIV/AIDS prevention education, raising HIV/AIDS awareness among youth and motivating NYC public high school students to be HIV/AIDS peer educators, activists and advocates by providing them with college grants and recognition for their life-saving work.

***Honorary Degrees to Be Awarded***

John Jay College of Criminal Justice will grant three honorary degrees.  This year's honorary degree recipients are renowned for their contributions to academia and the arts.

Taylor Branch, Doctor of Letters
Taylor Branch, professor at Goucher College, he won a Pulitzer Prize for Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63, a powerful chronicle of a great American, Martin Luther King, Jr., who changed the laws and consciousness of our nation.

Seymour Hersh, Doctor of Letters
Seymour Hersh, a preeminent investigative journalist and winner of five George Polk  Awards as well as a Pulitzer Prize for International  Reporting, he has an unparalleled record of bringing to light injustice and human rights abuses that the highest levels of government have used extraordinary efforts to conceal.

Anna Deavere Smith, Doctor of Humane Letters
Anna Deavere Smith, an award winning playwright, actor and social critic whose work has created a new form of theater that is fundamentally committed to social justice and advancing community dialogue. She teaches in the Department of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Performing Arts and at the New York University School of Law.

***Valedictory Oration***

Gina Pagano, the 2010 class valedictorian, sports a perfect 4.0 grade point average in Forensic Psychology. Pagano, a 21-year-old from Bayside, Queens, is keenly interested in working with sex offenders and with those coping with trauma, and she hopes to go on to a PhD in Clinical Psychology, after first obtaining a master’s in Forensic Psychology at John Jay.

***Salutatory Oration***

Yulia Gracheva, the 26-year old salutatorian of the 2010 graduating class, has lived on her own in New York City, doggedly pursuing her dream of being a lawyer, chalking up a perfect 4.0 grade point average in Political Science at John Jay along the way. While many students can count on family members as a handy support system, Gracheva’s relatives are thousands of miles away in Russia, where her father is in the military.  Gracheva plans to take a year off after graduation to prepare for the LSATs.


About John Jay College of Criminal Justice:An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nationsIn teaching, scholarship and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art and science in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law.  For more information, visit