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Graduation

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Friends and families gathered at the Bulls football stadium to cheer on loved ones during the 100th commencement ceremony for Smithtown High School East on Wednesday, June 24.

In a ceremony that lasted a little over an hour, Smithtown East principal Edwin Thompson called on the words of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson — the president in the year of the school’s first graduation — to remind students that obstacles are there to be overcome. After addresses from the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction and two student speakers, nearly 500 students received their high school diplomas.

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Billy Joel accepts his honorary degree at Friday’s graduation ceremony. Photo from Lauren Sheprow

Stony Brook University marked its 55th commencement ceremony Friday and doled out degrees to 6,298 students, joining more than 155,000 of the school’s forerunners around the globe.

The school also honored Long Island leaders Billy Joel and Charles B. Wang, who received an honorary doctor of music and doctor of humane letters, respectively.

State University of New York Trustee Cary Staller conferred the honorary degree to Joel, and in his acceptance speech, Joel told students to never compromise their ideals.

“I hope that by now you have found what it is you love and I hope that you have learned the skills you need to make what you love your life’s work,” he said. “I wish for you the stamina to continue that work when you encounter resistance and tough times … if you’re not doing what you love, you’re just wasting your time.”

Wang, during his acceptance speech, stated his beliefs in four points, “One — you can make a difference; two — integrity and loyalty are only words until tested; three — love life to the fullest; and four — have fun.” He also described his inspiration to create the Charles B. Wang Center, an Asian and Asian-American cultural hub at the university.

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Billy Joel will receive an honorary degree at next month’s Stony Brook University commencement ceremony, slated for May 22 at LaValle Stadium. Photo from SBU

Billy Joel is coming to Stony Brook University.

Billy Joel will receive an honorary degree at next month’s Stony Brook University commencement ceremony, slated for May 22 at LaValle Stadium. Photo from SBU
Billy Joel will receive an honorary degree at next month’s Stony Brook University commencement ceremony, slated for May 22 at LaValle Stadium. Photo from SBU

The iconic singer and songwriter was named one of three luminaries who will receive honorary degrees at this year’s Stony Brook University commencement ceremony on May 22, along with renowned computer scientist Ben Shneiderman and Long Island businessman and philanthropist Charles Wang.

“This is a remarkable distinction for the Class of 2015, to be joined in their celebration by such a highly accomplished trio,” said Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. “It shows our new alumni how much can be achieved with vision, dedication and perseverance. These three individuals personify the relentless pursuit of excellence that Stony Brook embraces.”

Stony Brook University will be conferring honorary degrees to all three visitors, who will don academic regalia along with more than 6,000 students at the 55th annual commencement ceremony, slated for 11 a.m. at LaValle Stadium. Both Joel and Wang will speak at the ceremony, Stony Brook University said.

“I look forward to this commencement, as I’m sure does the entire Class of 2015, as they prepare to celebrate the culmination of their dedication, hard work, and their vision for what lies ahead,” Stanley said.

Joel, who was raised in Hicksville, is a singer-songwriter pianist and composer who has earned 23 Grammy Award nominations, six Grammy Awards, and an additional Grammy Legend Award to name only a few of his achievements.

Shneiderman, a two-time Stony Brook University alumnus and distinguished university professor of computer science at the University of Maryland, is a world-renowned computer scientist who has transformed his chosen field. Shneiderman will be speaking at a prestigious doctoral hooding ceremony the previous day, May 21, at 1 p.m. in the Island Federal Credit Union Arena.

Wang is co-founder of Computer Associates International — now CA Technologies — and owner of the New York Islanders ice hockey team. Born in Shanghai, China, he moved to Queens when he was 8 years old, and attended Brooklyn Technical High School. The Charles B. Wang Center at SBU was named in his honor.