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“Power in your purpose”: First World New Paltz celebrates on 2024 Commencement weekend

Dozens of SUNY New Paltz graduates from underrepresented groups gathered to celebrate their accomplishments with faculty and staff mentors at the 51st annual First World Graduation ceremony on May 18, 2024.

[Click here for photos from First World Graduation 2024]

First World Graduation at New Paltz serves not only as a unique Commencement-weekend event celebrating students of color, but as an introduction into a robust network of University alumni.

“In this moment, I challenge you to identify your purpose, harness your power,” said Assistant Professor of Black Studies Shelton K. Johnson, who served as the Class of 2024’s keynote speaker. “There is power in your purpose. True power lies in the capacity to inspire, to lead by example, and to empower those around you.”

[Click here to view the full list of SUNY New Paltz’s spring 2024 First World Graduates]

First World graduates grasped the power of community early in their college career, which served them well as they completed their degrees and took on various roles and responsibilities.

“Being in college is one of the most crucial times in life,” said First World New Paltz President Geanna Matos ’24 (Sociology—Human Services). “We faced many challenges during our time here, but we overcame them together.”

At its core, First World Graduation and its student-led organizing committee work each year to bring the deep historical roots that inform cultural and intellectual life into focus for their peers and the campus community more broadly.

“This club was created to celebrate graduates of color at a time when the school was mostly white, and its message has inspired me since I first joined,” said Stephanie Morales ’24 (Marketing), who served as First World New Paltz’s Public Relations representative. “I wanted to do anything I could to help, and now I’m excited to be here with all my classmates as we graduate today.”

Click here to learn more about First World Graduation at SUNY New Paltz.