PGRAD 2017 Class Photo. Graduates proudly don their PGRAD medals with Consul General Theresa Dizon-de Vega (center) and Vice Consul Khrystina Corpuz (1st from left, 2nd row).  (Photo by PCGNY)

Filipino and Filipino-American graduates of bachelor, master and doctorate degrees marched together as one community on June 20, 2017 during the 5th Philippine Graduation (PGRAD) ceremony held at the Philippine Center New York’s Kalayaan Hall.

The PGRAD Class of 2017 is comprised of 27 newly-minted degree-holders from diverse fields such as Law and Social Sciences, Business Management, Medical Sciences, Engineering, and Education.

The event was hosted by the Philippine Consulate General New York in cooperation with second-generation Filipino-American organization UniPro.

Consul General Theresa B. Dizon-de Vega, in her welcome remarks, recalled the very first PGRAD which she inaugurated back in 2013.

She stated her pleasure in seeing the growth of PGRAD, and her hope that the rise in numbers also translate to the increase and quality of involvement of the Filipino community youth sector.

She noted that the PGRAD is an entryway to community engagement and collaboration among young Filipino-Americans.

Tony and Grammy award-winning Broadway producer Jhett Tolentino delivered the keynote address, referencing his humble roots in the slums of Iloilo and his perseverance that helped him achieve his lofty dreams.

He credited his early realization of the value of education and desire to give back to his family and community that made him strive for scholarships which funded his high school and college education.

This year, the Office of New York State Assemblyman Brian Barnwell issued Certificates to all the PGrad honorees, and also gave Long Citations to three exemplary PGRAD participants — Councilman Jonathan Wong, Ms. Venessa Manzano and Ms. Laura Garcia.

Mahwah, N.J. Councilman Jonathan Wong, the youngest elected Fil-Am in public office who finished his Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School expressed his gratitude to his Filipino mother for instilling in him the values of respect for elders, focus on education, and pride in his familial and patriotic heritage.


Multi-awarded Broadway producer Jhett Tolentino relates his story as a struggling student in Iloilo to realizing his American dream. Right photo: The graduating class and their family and friends join the singing of Lupang Hinirang at the start of the ceremony.  (Photos by PCGNY)

Venessa Manzano, Founder of the Filipino School of New York and New Jersey, who completed her Master in Nonprofit Management at Columbia University, honored her father for the sacrifices he made as the head of an immigrant family in America.

She looked back on her father’s humble roots in the Philippines and shared that she draws inspiration from them to strive to bring pride and esteem to her family and the motherland.

Laura Garcia, recent graduate of Doctor of Nursing Practice at Farleigh Dickinson University, who also serves as President of the Siliman University Alumni Association and Vice Chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) New York chapter, imparted lessons she has learned as a community leader, a professional, and a Filipino-American.

She commended her fellow graduates for the success they have attained in their academic pursuits, and at the same time urged them to give back to those in need.

Ms. Meredith Wittman, Director of Community Relations, spoke on behalf of Assemblyman Barnwell and recognized the contributions of the Filipino-American community to the diversity of New York.

She noted that their District in Queens is bustling with active Filipino constituents, Filipino culture, and Filipino-run businesses that uplift the greatness of New York State.


Consul General Theresa Dizon-de Vega shares her aspirations for the Filipino-American youth in her welcome remarks.

The Northern Star Award, reserved for the graduate who demonstrated dedication in community values was given by the Organizing Committee to PGRAD Founding Partner Kristina Kalaw Joyas, who earned her Master in Nonprofit Management from Columbia University.

Kristina, who founded Legacy NY, which promotes mentoring college students on community engagement and advocacy, recalled her pride in seeing the youth sector’s enthusiasm in asserting their Filipino roots and connecting to the Philippines.

During the intermission, FUSION, the Filipino student organization of the City University of New York - Baruch College performed their Battle of the Barrios-winning Modern Dance routine to the delight of the audience.


Venessa Manzano (center) receives a Long Citation from Assemblyman Brian Barnwell from Ms. Meredith Wittman (right) and Consul General Theresa Dizon-de Vega (left), while her daughter Natalie shares the stage. Right photo: Northern Star Awardee and PGRAD founding partner Kristina Joyas considers PGRAD as her favorite event in the Filipino community calendar.


Doctor of Nursing Practice Laura Garcia posed to accept her Long Citation from Assemblyman Brian Barnwell. Right photo: Councilman Jonathan Wong delivers his acceptance speech and inspirational message through a video.  (Photos by NYPCG)

Add comment

Security code

Latest comments