Colin Powell School Commencement 2023

Colin Powell School Commencement Celebration
Thursday, June 01, 2023   I   10:30am


Andrew RichDear Colin Powell School Community,

On Thursday, June 1st at 10:30am, we celebrated more than 1,000 new graduates of the Colin Powell School – a record number – at our divisional commencement on CCNY’s South Campus Lawn along with our commencement speaker will be Maya Wiley, President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund. In addition, it is my privilege to introduce you to the 2023 Colin Powell School Valedictorian, Jennifer Garcia, and our four Salutatorians: Nija Daniels, Lorena Modesto, Kethia Calixte-Sanon, and Shahmir Zaidi. These five individuals are among the most distinguished new graduates of the Colin Powell School. You can read profiles of each of them below.

The celebration of this year’s graduating class starts now, and I look forward to staying in touch in the coming days as we do all we can to make this moment—these next few weeks—as special as possible for them.
Andrew Rich
Richard J. Henley and Susan L. Davis Dean
Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership



Class of 2023 Students Graduating from the
Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership


Ph.D. Degrees to be awarded this year

40000 +

The Class of 2023 joins a worldwide community of CPS alumni living in more than 100 different countries


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Class of 2023 Valedictorian Jennifer Garcia

Jennifer Garcia, a first-generation Mexican-American who was born and raised in Brooklyn, discovered City College after taking a gap year. She made a leap of faith, transferring from architecture to business and journalism. The Colin Powell School allowed her to level up her career aspirations and accomplish more than she thought possible, thanks to its diverse range of programs, internships, and fellowship opportunities. Jennifer was in the inaugural cohort of NBCU Academy Fellows. With the support of the fellowship and the Office of Student Success, Jennnifer interned with CNBC en Español, integrating her business major with reporting to help promote financial literacy within the Spanish-speaking community. She produced multiple original segments on the topic and is currently interning with the NBC Olympics research team as they prepare for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Post-graduation, Jennifer has been accepted into the Bilingual Journalism program at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, and the Master of Science program in journalism at Columbia University. Her goal is to inspire others with the stories she reports so that they can help spark conversations for change. She hopes to continue growing with NBC Universal and mentor aspiring journalists from underrepresented backgrounds.



2023 Salutatorian Nija Daniels

Nija Daniels was born in New York to Jamaican immigrants. She is studying International Studies with a concentration in Comparative Public Policy and minoring in English and Human Rights. Nija is a passionate advocate for equity and inclusion, as evidenced by her numerous leadership roles on campus. She founded and served as President of the CCNY Pre-Law Club, was a Vice President managing a Peer Mentorship Program under the S Jay Levy Alumni Board, and served as Secretary of the Senate of the Undergraduate Student Government, where she contributed to uplifting student concerns. She has participated in several prestigious fellowships and honors programs, including the Colin Powell Fellowship in Leadership and Public Service, S Jay Levy Fellowship, Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, and Honors Program in Legal Studies. Nija's past personal and professional experiences have inspired her to pursue business law and protect individuals' economic human rights. She intends to support under-resourced entrepreneurs, create generational wealth in disadvantaged community groups, and help mitigate poverty worldwide through her work in this field.


2023 Salutatorian Lorena Modesto

Lorena Modesto is a passionate community organizer, educator, and student leader double majoring in Political Science and Sociology. She was born in Guerrero, Mexico and raised in the Bronx, immigrating to the US at the age of 5. Lorena draws from her personal experiences and her love for education to empower and uplift immigrant communities. Currently, Lorena serves as President of the CCNY Dream Team, an undocumented student-led space that upholds voices, experiences, stories, and rights of immigrant folks and allies. She was selected as the NY Dream Act Education Fellow in 2020 at the New York State Youth Leadership Council, the first undocumented youth-led organization in New York. She serves as a CUNY Immigrant Student Ambassador, assisting students in applying for state financial aid, providing information about scholarship opportunities, and facilitating undocu-art events, and was involved with the Colin Powell School's Racial Justice Fellowship as a Street Vendor Project intern. After graduation, Lorena plans to apply to law schools and dedicate herself to immigration law. 
Read an interview with Lorena Modesto.


Salutatorian Kethia Calixte-Sanon

Kethia Calixte-Sanon is a double major in Psychology and International Development, with minors in Public Policy and Economics. Through her academic and professional experiences, Kethia has developed a dynamic understanding of social issues, working with various fellowships and internships under the Colin Powell Fellowship in Leadership and Public Service, the CUNY Women's Public Policy Internship Program, The Honors Program in Legal Studies at the Colin Powell School, and the S Jay Levy Fellowship for Future Leaders. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kethia served as an AmeriCorps member and a Licensed Practical Nurse, gaining valuable experience in addressing community needs. In 2022, she interned in Washington D.C., researching Labor movements of the early 20th century, which sparked her interest in writing and conducting community-based research to inform policy and effective social change. She completed a service learning project in Senegal, studying sustainability and ongoing community initiatives to find relevant solutions to complex environmental and socio-economic challenges caused by climate breakdown. Having grown up in Rural Jacmel, Haiti, Kethia understands the importance of supporting communities and anchoring people in sustainable long-term solutions that are efficient and equitable. Post graduation, she plans to pursue Law to help reimagine the future of sustainability practices.


Salutatorian Shahmir Zaidi

Originally from Pakistan, Shahmir Zaidi pursued a degree in Economics with a minor in Management and Administration. Shahmir recognizes the importance of setting clear goals and maintaining a structured routine to achieve success, and this discipline has allowed him to excel academically and professionally. Shahmir finished his degree in December, and he is currently an Associate Risk Analyst for AIG, where he is continuously learning and growing in the financial services industry.  He was a Boudreau Fellow, an award that recognizes students who are studying finance for their outstanding academic achievements. Shahmir motivates others to get involved and remains persistent in his efforts to make a difference in the lives of those he encounters. He is passionate about addressing issues such as poverty, lack of education, and malnutrition, and believes that everyone should do their part in the fight against these issues. 








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Please note the following:

Graduates of September, January, and February are automatically invited to the Spring Commencement ceremony.
To all June applicants for graduation, attending the Commencement ceremony does not automatically mean that you have graduated from CCNY. You must satisfy all of your degree requirements.
All graduates will be notified to their CCNY email address regarding degree conferral/diploma availability.

For students admitted to the college in Fall 2014 and after the graduation honors policy is as follows:

  • A degree summa cum laude is granted to students whose average in all subjects is at least 3.8.
  • A degree magna cum laude is granted to students whose average in all subjects is at least 3.5.
  • A degree cum laude is granted to students whose average in all subjects is at least 3.2.

Only coursework completed at City College is taken into account in the computation of graduation honors. Second degree students are not eligible for graduation honors.

Instructions on Obtaining Your Diploma

Last Updated: 06/06/2023 10:53