Binghamton University to hold Fall commencement


BINGHAMTON, NY -- Binghamton University will award more than 750 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees during the Fall 2011 Commencement ceremony at noon Sunday, Dec. 11, in the Events Center.

Ravi Gupta ’05 will receive the University Medal and speak at the ceremony. The highest honor Binghamton University bestows, the University Medal is awarded in recognition of distringuished services to the University, to higher education and to the larger community.

Gupta, a Staten Island, N.Y. native, was awarded a $26,000 scholarship from the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation in 2004, on the way to earning degrees in science, and public policy and philosophy from Binghamton University. He was one of 77 winners selected from among 609 candidates from across the country on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability and likelihood of “making a difference.”

He was also recognized with an honorable mention in the prestigious USA Today Academic All-Star competition that honors undergraduates as representatives of all outstanding students at the nation’s colleges and universities.

While at Binghamton, Gupta founded Binghamton Students for Students International (BSSI), a Student Association-chartered group to raise awareness and funds for students in third-world countries. Over the past five years, BSSI has sent 52 students to high school and college as a result of its fundraising efforts. He was also a teaching assistant, captain of the debate team, a volunteer for Red Cross blood drives and a tutor through the Center for Academic Excellence.

Following graduation, Gupta worked as a special assistant to David Axelrod, chief strategist for the Obama for America campaign, and graduated from Yale Law School. He was appointed special assistant to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, but made a career change and left the world of politics to return to another passion -- education.

He is currently a fellow at Building Excellent Schools, leading a team that is founding Nashville Prep Charter School, a grade 5-12 college prep school in Nashville, Tenn.

One undergraduate and one graduate student, selected to represent their fellow graduates who completed degrees in the summer or fall, will also speak at Fall Commencement 2011.

Luisa Batiz, who will receive her bachelor’s degree in sociology with a global studies minor, will speak on behalf of the undergraduate candidates and Jeremy Culler, a doctoral candidate in art history, will speak on behalf of the graduate students.

Batiz could be described as an overachiever – at least when it comes to helping the underprivileged. She has spent a summer teaching English, Spanish, math, science and history to youngsters in Honduras; worked for the After School Corporation to mentor students at summer camps in Brooklyn and the Bronx, in particular by facilitating College 101 workshops; and launched WE SPEAK BU, a Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition chapter at Binghamton University.

While at Binghamton, her work as one of the founding members of WE SPEAK BU is what she is most proud of. The student organization was created to address the increasing rates of HIV/AIDS among women of color.

From Brooklyn, she also earned an ELLA Fellowship that enabled her to create an after-school program focused on increasing self-esteem in middle-school girls there, and last summer completed a fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy, in Public Policy and International Affairs.

Batiz will be a Teach for America Corps member in New York City following graduation. She also hopes earn a PhD in public policy with a concentration on the international monetary system in Latin America in order to tackle issues that adversely affect people of color.

Culler, a native of West Palm Beach, Fla., is currently teaching as an adjunct professor of art history at SUNY Fredonia.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in art history from Florida Atlantic University and his master’s degree in art history from the University of Florida, Gainesville, before coming to Binghamton, where he taught and was an editor and graduate assistant for the Visual Resources Collection.  

Culler will teach at Fredonia for the spring semester and would love to continue to teach at SUNY Fredonia, but is also applying for assistant professor tenure-track positions this year.

Last Updated: 9/17/13