David Osorio, a Surgical Technology graduate, received the Robert Maher Outstanding Student at the Berkeley College Commencement ceremony. The award is presented annually to a member of the graduating class who has met high standards of academic excellence while overcoming personal, professional, or financial obstacles. Students are nominated for the award by Berkeley College faculty and staff.

David Osorio, a Surgical Technology graduate, received the Robert Maher Outstanding Student at the Berkeley College Commencement ceremony. The award is presented annually to a member of the graduating class who has met high standards of academic excellence while overcoming personal, professional, or financial obstacles. Students are nominated for the award by Berkeley College faculty and staff.

Families and friends filled the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, on Friday, April 24, 2015, as Berkeley College awarded nearly 2,300 certificates and degrees to graduates.

The Class of 2015 included more than 200 international students and 120 military and veteran graduates. More than 30 percent of the class graduated with honors.

The College, which is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the best for Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs, also held a Virtual Commencement to honor students who earned degrees through Berkeley College Online®.

Christopher Rodriguez, PhD, Director, New Jersey Office of Homeland Security, served as Commencement speaker and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

“Many of you are first-generation Americans, as I am, seeking a better life in this country,” he told the graduates. “Single parents juggling home, career and school. Military veterans transitioning to a new stage in your life and your career. Mid-career professionals seeking to invest in yourselves so you can attain new heights of success. So you are an exceptional class. You have already sacrificed so much to get to this point.”

Student speaker Nicole Singletary told the graduates about returning to college after she faced unemployment and how she founded a community-based nonprofit to improve lives in her hometown of Newark, NJ.

“I’ve always been conscious of my surroundings growing up in the Central Ward of Newark,” she said. “This is where I received the emotional intelligence and resiliency to combat losing my job, and so I looked at the societal issues impacting my community and many other inner cities in America. The problems of society now rest on our shoulders. We need to find sustainable solutions for a better tomorrow.”

David Osorio, a Surgical Technology graduate, received the Robert Maher Outstanding Student. The award is presented annually to a member of the graduating class who has met high standards of academic excellence while overcoming personal, professional, or financial obstacles. Students are nominated for the award by Berkeley College faculty and staff.

Mr. Osorio came to the United States from Colombia 15 years ago. He and his mother struggled as undocumented immigrants until 2012, when an amendment to legislation known as the Dream Act gave Mr. Osorio the opportunity to legally live and work in the country he has called home.

At Berkeley College, Mr. Osorio maintained a 4.0 grade point average and served as president of the Surgical Technology Club. The resident of Clifton, NJ, has received many awards and merit-based institutional grants in his chosen field.

“I have always had to work extra hard to get the things I want,” he said. “I never give up and I want others to learn from my experience.”

Tamba D. Aghailas was recognized as the Berkeley College Alumnus of the Year. The award is presented annually to a Berkeley College graduate who has enjoyed professional success and community fulfillment.

Mr. Aghailas, the survivor of a civil war in Liberia that lasted 15 years, has dedicated his life to advocacy for the refugees and disenfranchised citizens of Africa. He came to the United States on a student visa sponsorship, earning an Associate in Science in 2005 and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in 2007 from Berkeley College. He went on to earn a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College, the City University of New York.

Mr. Aghailas currently lives in New York City and serves as Country Head, Human Resources and Program Operations, for BRAC Liberia, an organization dedicated to alleviating poverty in his home country. He also has worked to address the global Ebola health crisis and recently shared his experiences with the Berkeley College community during a lecture titled “Liberia’s Future in the Face of Ebola.”