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Baruch College Announces Its 2014 Valedictorian and Salutatorian

NEW YORK, NY- May 6, 2014 – Baruch College, a senior college of the City University of New York (CUNY), is proud to announce that students Esther J. Lykes and Jonathan Flügel are this year’s valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively. They will join their fellow graduates during the Forty-Ninth Commencement Exercises on Tuesday, May 27, at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

There will be two ceremonies: the morning Commencement ceremony will begin at 11:00 a.m. and the afternoon ceremony will begin at 3:30 p.m. Baruch College President Mitchel B. Wallerstein will confer the degrees to the undergraduate and graduates. Trevor A. Edwards (’84, MBA ’89), President of Nike Brand at Nike Inc., is the speaker for the morning ceremony and will receive the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. Cathy Avgiris (’80), Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Comcast Cable will be the commencement speaker for the afternoon ceremony.


Valedictorian Esther J. Lykes

EstherLykesValedictorian Esther J. Lykes is graduating summa cum laude with a B.A. in Business Management and Entrepreneurship. Esther, who is a Brooklyn resident originally from Manhattan, is also a member of the Sigma Iota Epsilon National Honor Management Society. As a student, Esther participated in a variety of entrepreneurship competitions that included serving as a team member in the 2014 Idea Brewery Hackathon (winning first place); a team member of the 2012 Fast Forward Leadership Program with KPMG in Hollywood, California (winning first place); and serving as team captain of the Oceanic Leadership Team, during Summer 2010, where she led her team to raise $60,000 for community service projects in Fiji, Vanuatu and The Solomon Island.

Esther’s work experience is providing a strong foundation for her future career in Business Management. In 2013, Esther started working as an intern for Ovando, a floral design and event planning firm, where she was quickly promoted to production coordinator and helped enhance the firm’s daily operations. Esther has also served as a summer audit associate intern for KPMG in 2013 and an operations analyst intern for Morgan Stanley in summer 2012.

Diversity and a strong sense of community are the qualities that define Esther’s experience at Baruch.

“Baruch has been a place where our diversity brings us together,” she says. “Baruch students’ paths are unique, but we all ended up here. We may be single moms, first generation immigrants, confused teenagers, or ambitious adults, but we are all Baruch.”

Esther is grateful for the confidence she has gained through her years at Baruch.

"I arrived at Baruch fragmented, lacking in confidence, and uncertain about my future, but Baruch didn’t overlook me,” she says. “They gave me a place to grow and all the necessary tools to succeed. Baruch didn’t judge my past, it celebrated my journey."


Salutatorian Jonathan Flügel

JonathanFlugelSalutatorian Jonathan Flügel, who is graduating summa cum laude, is a student of the inaugural cohort of the Zicklin School of Business Undergraduate Honors Program. Jonathan was the first business school recipient of the prestigious John Mather Nobel Scholar award for his space related work at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Jonathan, who is receiving a BBA in Computer Information Systems, is a Queens resident originally from Venezuela. Before entering Baruch College, Jonathan was a studio musician in New York City and collaborated with various independent recording artists. Jonathan also previously worked in manufacturing and distribution of music, independent film and software releases.

Starting in June 2014, Jonathan will be working with the Flight Projects Directorate at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center as an analyst on the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). TESS, led by principal investigators from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will be the first space-borne mission surveying the entire sky for exoplanets and is scheduled to launch in 2017. During the spring 2014 semester, Jonathan interned at NASA/Goddard’s Explorers Program Office where he worked on software tools for space mission risk analysis. In the summer of 2013, Jonathan served as an intern at NASA/Goddard’s Advanced Concepts and Formulation Office where he developed software tools for space mission proposal activity.

While at Baruch, Jonathan served as a research and information technology assistant in the National Science Foundation sponsored NYC-LSAMP Project STEM program where he helped to collect, organize and prepare data sets for statistical analysis. He also served as a student representative and advocate in the Zicklin School of Business’s efforts to deploy a software training curriculum for all future Zicklin students. Of the effort, Jonathan says:

"Baruch provided me a platform to explore and discover my potential. I saw this program as an opportunity to give back to the school that has given me so much. This will help to further empower all future Baruch students."

Students, faculty, friends and family are encouraged to engage with the college and this year’s commencement through the school’s Facebook and Twitter pages.


About Baruch College:

Baruch College is a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY) with a total enrollment of more than 17,000 students, who represent 160 countries and speak more than 100 languages. Ranked among the top 15% of U.S. colleges and the No. 5 public regional university, Baruch College is regularly recognized as among the most ethnically diverse colleges in the country. As a public institution with a tradition of academic excellence, Baruch College offers accessibility and opportunity for students from every corner of New York City and from around the world. For more about Baruch College, go to


Manny Romero, (646) 660-6141,
Mercedes Sanchez, (646) 660-6112,
Celene McDermott, (646) 660-6134,

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