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Roberta Flack Inspires Graduates at LIU Brooklyn Commencement


University Center,

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (May 12, 2017) – Four-time GRAMMY Award winner Roberta Flack encouraged LIU Brooklyn’s Class of 2017 to follow the music in their hearts as she received an honorary doctorate at the University’s 2017 Commencement exercises, held on Thursday, May 11, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“You have to make sure that if you hear a song in your heart, you hear a little tiny, weenie nothing in your heart, and no one else listens to it, you keep listening to yourself,” said Flack, who was awarded the degree of Doctor of Arts, honoris causa. “Keep listening to yourself, because that’s where the song starts and ends, right in your heart, and you have to hold onto it like it’s a diamond. Hold onto it. You’ll make the world a much better place, and you will be a happier person. 

Students were also addressed by the Valedictorian of the Class of 2017, Sienna Jeffries. Jeffries, a double major in marketing and journalism, reflected on LIU’s impact on her ability to communicate as she addressed her classmates.

“Attending LIU was like traveling the world without leaving campus,” Jeffries said, “because this University is filled with such diversity, diversity that challenges stereotyped preconceptions, and helps us effectively communicate with people of varied backgrounds and cultures.” 

Diversity was also celebrated by Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams, who greeted the graduates after the conferral of degrees.

“Your greatest achievement is not what takes place in the sterilized environment of a classroom,” Adams said, “but what takes place in the real life experience of the outside universe. Visit a mosque, a synagogue, a Baptist church. Learn why someone wears a hijab or keffiyeh, a yarmulke, learn a different experience. If you only know people who look like you, talk like you, walk like you, eat the same food and do the same things, you’re living a Shakespearean tragedy. Experience life. Experience all that life has to offer and the beauty that comes with it. Enjoy the diversity of being part of this great place that we call America and the American experience.” 

The ceremony at the Barclays Center featured the conferral of 1,247 bachelor’s degrees (including 146 accelerated dual bachelor-master degrees), 1486 Masters degrees, 259 Doctoral degrees, 118 Advanced Certificates, and 12 Associate Degrees.

Posted 06/05/2017

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