Stony Brook University conferred degrees on more than 7,600 graduates Friday at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium during the Long Island school’s 62nd annual commencement ceremony .
Biology major Ahmad Syed addressed his fellow graduates as the student speaker, while film director Todd Haynes, one of the top independent filmmakers in the world, received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree and also spoke to the graduates.
The university awarded a record number of bachelor’s degrees — 4,670 — among the 7,610 degrees presented overall, breaking its previous record of 4,645, set last year. There were also 2,095 master’s degrees, 585 doctoral and professional degrees and 260 certificates conferred at the ceremony.
Syed of Port Jefferson served on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council in the College of Arts and Sciences, and was awarded the Louise Guarneri Scholarship. During his undergraduate years, he volunteered many hours at Stony Brook University Hospital.
Syed is the second person in his family to be the student speaker at Stony Brook’s commencement; his brother, Ali, delivered the address in 2014. He plans to pursue a degree in medical sciences, with specific interest in the field of ophthalmology, with an eye on serving as a physician and working in underserved areas, according to the university.
Considered to be among American cinema’s most prominent gay directorial voices, Haynes received an honorary doctorate for all his work in the arts, the LGBTQ community and for Stony Brook University students. His first feature film, “Poison,” released in 1991, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2015, “Carol” starring Cate Blanchett, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.
Haynes has had a long and award-winning professional partnership with producer and Stony Brook MFA in Film Artistic Director Christine Vachon.
Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis addressed the graduates in her second in-person commencement ceremony at LaValle Stadium. It was her first the full graduating class together at the same ceremony.
The commencement celebrations this month also included 43 individual departmental convocation ceremonies, held at locations across campus, May 18-20.