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New York State Secretary of State to Address Lehman Class of 2009

Lehman Graduates
New York Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez will address over 2,400 graduate and undergraduate students in the Lehman College class of 2009 at the College's 41st Commencement exercises on Thursday, May 28. The ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the South Field of Lehman's Bronx campus and will be attended by family and friends of the graduates, who represent the United States and 135 other nations.

Lehman President Ricardo R. Fernández, who is concluding his 19th year as president of the College, will preside. He will be joined on the podium by Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations Jay Hershenson, as well as by CUNY Trustee Carol A. Robles-Román. Rabbi Dr. Jonathan I. Rosenblatt of the Riverdale Jewish Center will deliver the Invocation and Moment of Reflection.

Speaking for the Class of 2009 will be Yolanda Alvarez, who is graduating with an M.A. in history. A graduate of Fordham University, she plans to pursue her Ph.D. in Jewish history.

Confirmed as the 65th Secretary of State on March 6, 2007, Secretary Cortés-Vázquez is the first Hispanic to hold this position since it was established in 1778. With more than 27 years of experience from the corporate, non-profit, and government sectors, she has served as executive director of ASPIRA of New York, the nation's oldest and largest non-profit youth leadership development and education advocacy agency, and as chief of staff to former New York State Assemblyman Roberto Ramirez. She also worked at the New York City Department of Aging for 14 years, rising to the position of chief of the Bureau of Program and Resource Development. A graduate of Hunter College, she earned a master's degree from New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and holds certificates from Harvard University's Women and Power Program and Columbia University's School of Non-Profit Management.

Dr. Marion Somers, an expert in geriatric care, will receive the 2009 Alumni Achievement Award. Dr. Somers holds a B.A. from The City College of New York, an M.S. in recreation therapy from Lehman, and a Ph.D. in human and organizational development from the Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, California. The creator and director of the Professional Geriatric Care Management Certificate Program at Hunter College's Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging & Longevity, she has provided care for more than 2,000 elderly clients through her Geriatric Care Management practice.

Receiving an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters will be William M. Wheeler, one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. A retired Lt. Col. in the 332nd Fighter Group/302nd Fighter Squadron of what was then called the U.S. Army Air Forces, Mr. Wheeler is credited with destroying three enemy bombers in WWII strafing missions. The Tuskegee Airmen, America's first black fighter pilots, were instrumental in helping to desegregate the U.S. military.