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[May 29, 2018]


Celebrates Class of 2018 as One of the Most Diverse Graduating Classes in Downstate History

Lori Donnell

Brooklyn, NY— SUNY Downstate Medical Center held its 51st Commencement Ceremonies on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. At the ceremony, SUNY Downstate President, Dr. Wayne J. Riley conferred a total of 679 degrees to students from Downstate’s College of Medicine, School of Graduate Studies, School of Public Health, College of Nursing, and the College for Health-Related Professions—advancing one of the most distinguished and diverse student bodies in Downstate history and throughout higher education in health and medicine, nationally.

“As I reflect on your achievements, I can’t help but well up with pride.  This is a monumental moment for each of you—SUNY Downstate has prepared you for this important phase of your professional lives, but your role at students should not end on this campus,” said Wayne J. Riley, SUNY Downstate Medical Center president in his remarks to graduates. “I implore each of you to remain eternally committed to researching, studying, and learning every inch about the ever-evolving world of health, so that you may transform your knowledge into the kind of power that has potential to make a real difference in people lives, here and around the world.”

“Always remember that each of you have important and significant contributions to make, and that you join the thousands of Downstate graduates who have dedicated their lives to providing care for those in need. You have all the tools necessary for making our communities, our state, and our nation healthier— and I have full faith each of you will be part of the solution, not only in your day, but for future generations to come."

This year’s commencement ceremonies marked a number of great achievements, both for SUNY Downstate and its graduates.  The Class of 2018 represents one of the most diverse student bodies in SUNY Downstate history, with more than 50 percent of its graduates coming from communities of color.  Following the ceremony, newly-graduated medical student Juliette Marie Conte joined a distinguished group of Downstate alums as she was sworn in to the US Army from the rank lieutenant to captain.  SUNY Downstate College of Medicine also graduated Dr. Brian Ghezelaiagh, the first-ever legally-blind doctor in Downstate’s 158-year history.

Of the 679 conferred degrees, 170 graduates earned their Bachelor of Science degrees, with the remaining 509 earning advanced degrees in nursing, medicine, physical therapy, and applied sciences.  A breakdown of conferred degrees is below:

College of Medicine
Medical Doctorate, M.D.— 206 degrees conferred.

School of Graduate Studies
Doctor of Philosophy—7 degrees conferred

School of Public Health
Advanced Certificate in Public Health— 24 degrees conferred.
Master of Public Health— 80 degrees conferred.
Doctor of Public Health— 6 degrees conferred.

College of Nursing
Bachelor of Science— 111 degrees conferred.
Master of Science— 99 degrees conferred.
Advanced Certificate— 2 degrees conferred

College for Health-Related Professions
Bachelor of Science— 59 degrees conferred.
Master of Science— 73 degrees conferred.
Doctor of Physical Therapy—19 degrees conferred.


About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center is the borough’s only academic medical center for health education, research, and patient care, and is a 376-bed facility serving the healthcare needs of Brooklyn’s 2.6 million residents. University Hospital is Downstate’s teaching hospital and is backed by the expertise of an outstanding medical school and the research facilities of a world-class academic center. More than 800 physicians, representing 53 specialties and subspecialties—many of them ranked as tops in their fields—comprise Downstate's staff.

A regional center for cardiac care, neonatal and high-risk infant services, pediatric dialysis, and transplantation, Downstate also houses a major learning center for children with physical ailments or neurological disorders. In addition to University Hospital, Downstate comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Health-Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative, including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively. For more information, visit