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Rep. Charles Rangel (D. 15th District, Manhattan) Addresses Grads

3,871 Degrees Awarded on May 31st at Madison Sq. Garden

New York, NY, May 31, 2006- Rep. Charles Rangel addressed 2,271 beaming graduates, their proud parents, and guests at Baruch College’s 41st Commencement Exercises held today at New York’s Madison Square Garden. This year’s Commencement was the largest in the history of the College. Rangel, serving his seventeenth term as the Representative from Manhattan’s 15th C.D., told graduates that their personal dreams of success and prosperity are also the key to moving the country forward toward a brighter future for all Americans.

              Kathleen Waldron, president of Baruch College, presided at the joyful ceremony at which 2,541 undergraduate and 1,330 graduate degrees were bestowed. Approximately two-thirds of those who earned degrees attended the ceremony. Thousands of happy mothers and fathers, husbands, wives, and sweethearts greeted graduates with loud cheering, flashing cameras, and bouquets of flowers.  For many Baruch students, a college degree is a heroic achievement, earned despite economic hardship and personal sacrifice (see student profiles). More than 40% of Baruch College students are the first in their family to reach this milestone.

         During the ceremony, the President’s Medal was awarded to Rep. Rangel and to the four members of the Alexander String Quartet.  The acclaimed ASQ has had a residency at Baruch College every year for the past 20 years and each year performs at the College as part of the Silberman Concert Series.  Members of the ASQ are Zakarias Grafilo, violin; Frederick Lifsitz, violin; Paul Yarbrough, viola; and Sandy Wilson, cello. A highlight of this year’s ceremony was a performance by the ASQ of a short musical selection, Ravel’s String Quartet, 4th Movement, Vif et Agite.

              The Valedictorian for the Class of 2006 was Els Rutten, a non-traditional student originally from the Netherlands.  Ms. Rutten, who is 55 years old, graduated with a GPA of  3.97674.  She has led a varied and colorful life, in and out of the classroom. Rutten urged her fellow graduates to “remain inquisitive and always approach life with an open mind.”  Ms. Rutten, who earned a BBA degree in Entrepreneurial Management, accepted her diploma on behalf of her classmates.

              Shazanna Zumpfe, a 26-year-old resident of Valley Stream, Long Island, whose family came to the U.S. from Guyana in 1998, was the Salutatorian.  She earned a BBA degree in Human Resource Management, compiling a 3.97631 GPA.  Ms. Zumpfe plans to attend law school and hopes eventually to teach on the college level. Keston Barrow, President of Baruch’s Undergraduate Student Government, presented the 2006 Class Gift.

              The Commencement ceremony culminated in a festive display of pyrotechnics as blue, white and silver streamers shot out of 18 cannons and a shower of confetti covered graduates and guests alike.  Mortarboards were tossed high in the air.  Madison Square Garden resounded with the boisterous cheers of the new graduates. In addition to the diplomas awarded toJune 2006 graduates, diplomas were also bestowed on those who finished their academic course work in August 2005 and February 2006.

              A senior college within The City University of new York, Baruch College has an enrollment of approximately 15,500 in three schools:  the Zicklin School of Business, the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Public Affairs.  A thriving, urban, multicultural institution, Baruch has been repeatedly cited as the most diverse college in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Baruch, which became autonomous in 1968, traces its origins back to the City College School of Business and Civic Administration and, ultimately, to the Free Academy, established in New York City in 1847, as the first free public institution of higher education in the nation.          

Contact:  News and Public Information Director, Zane Berzins, (646) 660-6113,


Watch Commencement 2006 video footage video footage


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