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Commencement ceremonies to feature 4 student speakers

By : Katie Ellis

Four students have been selected to speak at Commencement ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16.

Daniel O’Brien will speak at the Graduate School’s ceremony at 5 p.m. Saturday, Brigitta Berze will speak at the 8:30 a.m. Sunday Harpur College ceremony, Tobey Lass will speak at the professional schools ceremony at noon Sunday, and Adam Amit will speak at the 3:30 p.m. Sunday Harpur College ceremony. All ceremonies will be held in the Events Center.

O’Brien, a PhD candidate in biological sciences, earned his bachelor’s degree with dual majors in mathematics and biology from Oberlin College before coming to Binghamton to work with David Sloan Wilson on the evolution of cooperative behavior.

In addition to serving as the instructor of record for a number of courses, and as a teaching assistant and guest lecturer, O’Brien has 17 publications to his credit on topics including urban studies, evolution education and the application of evolutionary perspectives to other areas.

He will begin postdoctoral study at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University following Commencement. Specifically, he “will be involved in the construction of a whole-city research infrastructure in Boston, Mass., similar to the one I helped create here with the Binghamton Neighborhood Project,” he said.

Berze will receive her bachelor’s degree in environmental studies with a focus on sustainable engineering. She transferred to Binghamton from City College of the City University of New York (CUNY). Following graduation, she will intern with a New York-based nonprofit environmental organization before attending City College for graduate school in the fall.

Berze said that, hailing from New York City, she is used to diversity. But her time at Binghamton introduced her to a different kind of diversity: the environment.

“I have had the wonderful opportunity to sleep in a snow shelter ... and see a fisher cat. ... There is a reason why Binghamton University keeps this place alive and it is because of the amazing people you meet. The professors and students sometimes blow my mind with their experiences and knowledge.”

Lass will receive her bachelor of science degree in human development, with a minor in Judaic studies, and will attend Columbia University Teacher’s College to pursue a master’s degree in early intervention special education. Her focus will be intellectual disability and autism.

As a high school student looking at colleges, Binghamton stood out, Lass said.

“When I was talking to people about where I was applying, nobody had anything negative to say about Binghamton,” she said. “Everyone told me how much they or their friends had loved their time at Binghamton, and for me to have so many different types of people tell me how much everyone loved Binghamton for different reasons says something.”

Lass, who interned with the Southern Tier Independence Center, is “taking away professional and leadership skills that I have learned through hands-on experiences in different aspects of the campus.”

Amit, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in politics, philosophy and law, is the outgoing Student Association president and has been a resident assistant as well as a director for Catalyst for Intellectual Capital 2020 (CIC2020). He has also founded and developed a business plan for a college classified website.

Amit chose Binghamton because of the quality of education, but more than that, “I could tell from my visits and readings that, aside from top-notch academics, there were plenty of extra-curricular opportunities at Binghamton that could really give me a wealth of experiences.”

Amit will put those experiences to work this summer as an intern for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. When the summer ends, he’ll travel and volunteer in Africa and Israel for a year. His ultimate goal is to work in the public sector in the nation’s capital.


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Last Updated: 10/14/08