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3,300+ Graduate from LaGuardia Community College

Event recognized graduates’ resiliency throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and featured speeches from two local pandemic heroes

June 17, 2021

Collage of different graduation pictures

Long Island City, NY—A virtual commencement celebration was held earlier today for the more than 3,300 members of the LaGuardia Community College Class of 2021.

“On behalf of LaGuardia Community College, I commend the more than 3,300 members of the Class of 2021 for sticking with their studies despite the difficulties and uncertainties of this past year—most had to complete the majority of their degree online,” said President Kenneth Adams. “The knowledge and skills they gained at LaGuardia, along with their life experiences, are needed now more than ever to effect positive change and help revitalize our communities. Congratulations to the graduates and their loved ones!”

“This past year showed us that individuals can make a big impact towards lifting up our communities in times of struggle,” continued President Adams. “We were honored to have two pandemic heroes speak to our Class of 2021. Sofia Moncayo has led efforts to help families and businesses in Western Queens stay afloat during the pandemic, and LaGuardia grad Kristy Guzman, R.N. treated Covid-19 patients as an ICU nurse at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.”

Keynote speaker Sofia Moncayo has been spearheading initiatives in her community to help families and local businesses devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic. She leads a food distribution program through the Mosaic Community Center that gives out more than 2,000 boxes of food each week to families living in Sunnyside, Woodside and nearby communities. She also helped start 25 for Sunnyside & Woodside, a Facebook group that encourages neighborhood residents to patronize local restaurants and businesses. The group is credited with helping local restaurants recover from the financial crisis and rehire employees.

Moncayo encouraged the graduates to help others in need whenever possible, “When you see people in need, use the skills and knowledge you gained at LaGuardia to step up. Stand up for the marginalized, and do not be silent in the face of injustice. Give back to your community and they will give back to you.”

Brooklyn-native Kristy L. Guzman, RN graduated from LaGuardia in 2019 with an associate degree in nursing. Like many who come to LaGuardia for a second chance, Kristy had earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish before a serious health scare sparked an interest in the medical field.

She started working as a registered nurse in the intensive care unit (ICU) of Bellevue Hospital just a few months before the Covid-19 pandemic hit New York City. “Because of LaGuardia, I felt fully equipped for my nursing job at Bellevue, where patients with the most difficult cases are often transferred from other city hospitals. We have to be ready for anything,” said Guzman.

She encouraged the graduates to remember making it through a global pandemic, when challenges arise for them in the future. “You have been in crisis mode before, and you persevered. You can do it again,” she said.

The LaGuardia Class of 2021 was represented by Diana Athena, a Russian-native graduating with an associate degree in creative writing. Unable to work during the pandemic, Athena applied for a scholarship from the LaGuardia Community College Foundation and was the first-ever recipient of the Dr. Susan Young Scholarship—named in honor of the late English Professor Susan Young. Athena plans to earn a bachelor’s in writing and psychology, preparing her for a career combining her interests in wellness, yoga, and literature. “I want to keep sharing my story so that other nontraditional students know they are not alone in their journey.”

Congratulatory messages were given by CUNY Chancellor Félix Matos Rodríguez, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, New York State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, and New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

About the LaGuardia Community College 49th Graduating Class

LaGuardia’s newest associate degree-holders reflect the college’s tradition of serving low-income students, immigrants, and those seeking a second chance through higher education. More than half (51 percent) are Pell recipients and 34 percent are TAP recipients. Nearly one in four (23 percent) received both Pell and TAP. They come from 113 countries, and their average age is 27 years old. Many are the first in their family to earn a college degree.

Forty-five percent of the graduates self-identify as Hispanic or Latinx, reflecting  recent data showing that LaGuardia is among the top five colleges and universities statewide for enrolling and graduating the most Hispanic and Latinx students.

Sixty-seven percent of the Class of 2021 live in Queens. The most popular majors were Business Administration, Liberal Arts: Math and Science, and Criminal Justice.

Many graduates are transferring to CUNY four-year colleges to pursue their bachelor’s degrees. Additional schools the graduates will be attending this fall include Boston University, Columbia University, Fordham University, NYU, Rochester Institute of Technology, Smith College, SUNY Binghamton, SUNY Stonybrook, Syracuse, and the University of Michigan.

Total number of graduates: 3,300+

Associate in Science (AS) 52%
Associate in Applied Science (AAS) 27%
Associate in Arts (AA) 19%
Certificate 2%


Hispanic 45%
Asian/Pacific Islander 27%
Black 16%
White 11%
Native American 1%

Average Age: 27

22 or younger 32%
23 - 24 16%
25 - 29 27%
30 - 39 19%
40 + 7%


Female 62%
Male 38%
Unknown or not reported <1%

Most popular majors

Business Administration 11%
Liberal Arts: Math and Science 8%
Criminal Justice 8%
Psychology 7%
Computer Science 6%
Accounting 5%
Liberal Arts: Social Science and Humanities 4%


NYC 97%
Queens 67%
Brooklyn 16%
Bronx 7%
Manhattan 7%
Staten Island <1%
Other New York State 2%
Other 1%

Total Countries: 113
Top five countries (Other than the U.S.)*

China 5%
Ecuador 4%
Bangladesh 4%
Dominican Republic 3%
Nepal 3%
US 56%
* % based on students with known country information

Financial Aid

Pell recipients 51%
TAP recipients 34%
LaGuardia Community College Foundation Scholarships 14%
LaGuardia Community College Foundation Emergency Funds 9%
Excelsior Scholarships <1%

Click here for Fast Facts on LaGuardia’s student population.

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LaGuardia Community College, located in Long Island City, Queens, educates thousands of New Yorkers annually through degree, certificate, and continuing education programs. Our guiding principle Dare To Do More reflects our belief in the transformative power of education—not just for individuals, but for our community and our country—creating pathways for achievement and safeguarding the middle class. LaGuardia is a national voice on behalf of community colleges, where half of all U.S. college students study. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), the College reflects the legacy of our namesake, Fiorello H. LaGuardia, the former NYC mayor beloved for his championing the underserved. Since our doors opened in 1971, our programs regularly become national models for pushing boundaries to give people of all backgrounds access to a high-quality, affordable college education. We invite you to join us in imagining what our students, our community, and our country can become.