2012-09-12 / Front Page

LaGuardia Community College Holds Its 40th Commencement On September 21

To culminate LaGuardia Community College’s yearlong 40th anniversary celebration,  Dr. Sandra Hanson, one of the College’s founding faculty members, will be giving
the keynote address at the 40th Annual Commencement Exercises on
September 21.

Dr. Hanson, the chairperson of the English Department who joined the
faculty in 1974, will address an expected 1,000 graduates who are
attending the exercises at the Jacob K. Javits Center North.  The
graduating class of 2012 totals some 2,500 students.

Representing the Class of 2012 will be T. Harmonie Kobanghe, an Honors
student and the recipient of the 2012 Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate
Transfer Scholarship, a premier national scholarship that will provide
her with $30,000 a year throughout her undergraduate experience at
Georgetown University where she will be majoring in International
Relations with a minor in Women and Gender Studies.  She is also the
recipient of the Finch Scholarship.

Dr. Hanson joined the young institution three years after it opened its
doors and served for five years as Director of Composition.  In 1984 she
was elected to the first of nine three-year terms as chairperson of the
English Department.  The Department houses the Writing Program as well
as a Writing and Literature major, which is fully articulated with
Queens College and John Jay College.  It also has a Liberal Arts
Journalism option, which is articulated with Brooklyn College and a
Creative Writing major articulated with York College.  In the fall of
2012 she begins her final academic year as Chair of the Department of 63
full-time and 87 part-time faculty members.

Beyond her academic service in the English Department, Dr. Hanson was
Chair and Co-Chair of the LaGuardia Faculty Council for six years,
helping to initiate the Faculty Council Auction for which faculty
donated items and services to be auctioned to raise money for student
scholarship.  The auction continues as a popular tradition at the
College. She also chaired the LaGuardia Academic Standing Committee for
the past seven years as well as the CUNY English Discipline Council for
five years and has served on numerous other College and University
committees and task forces.

Throughout her three years at the College, Harmonie, a Liberal Arts:
Social Science and Humanities major had a stellar academic career,
maintaining a 3.94 G.P.A.  As one of the top students in the Honors
Program, Harmonie not only completed the Honors Concentration by taking
at least seven Honors courses, but this past spring she took two Honors
courses, breaking the program’s record.  

Along with distinguishing herself as a scholar, she developed into a
skillful college leader.  She served as a chapter officer of the PTK
Honors Society, and went on to be elected vice president of PTK New York
Region Southern District. She was the founding member of the Honors
Program’s Honors Student Advisory Committee, which organizes
activities and events for the honors student community, and was
appointed co-chair.  She also has led peer workshops on transfer
application strategies and was a French language tutor.

As a passionate human rights advocate, Harmonie selected
extracurricular projects that would fulfill her interests in social
justice.  After learning in her U.S. Power and Politics class that the
criminal justice system is biased toward African-American males, she
decided to learn first hand how the system operates by volunteering as a
social counselor at the Grievance Program at Rikers Island.   

An internship at the office of New York State Malcolm A. Smith, through
the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus CUNY
Scholars Program, allowed her to address another one of her concerns:
stopping gun violence.  After her internships she stayed on as a
volunteer to another year.

After earning a bachelor’s degree she plans on completing a law
degree with a focus on international women human’s rights.
Ultimately, as a human rights lawyer, she hopes to create an
international organization to help the women of the Congo who were
victims of violence and war reclaim their lives, become empowered, and
gain a voice in the governance of their countries.

“Whenever I reflect on my educational path, I see that I have only
been able to accomplish so much because of the support of people who
believe in my passion,” said Harmonie.  “It is therefore my duty to
be of similar service to others.  So I always keep in sight my dream of
going to the Congo to improve the lives of others, just like others have
done for me.”

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