Commencement to Honor 2,700 Graduates

Graduates Come From 48 Nations and 29 States

Teaneck, NJ (April 27, 2006) — More than 2,700 students will receive doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees at the 63rd Commencement ceremony of Fairleigh Dickinson University on Tuesday, May 16, 2006, at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, NJ. The Class of 2006 represents 48 nations, 29 states plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, and 21 NJ counties.

University President J. Michael Adams will preside at the 10 a.m. ceremony and the campus provosts will present the Student Pinnacle Awards. This is the highest honor the University bestows on a graduating student. One student from each campus, who has demonstrated academic excellence, public service and commitment to the University, is honored. Each winner will address their fellow graduates and the assembled audience.

The 2006 Student Pinnacle Award will be presented to Jessica Heulitt of Belmar, NJ, representing the College at Florham Campus in Madison, NJ, and Keisha Baptiste, a native of Trinidad, representing the Metropolitan Campus in Teaneck, NJ.

Honorary doctor of humane letters degrees will be conferred on Kwame Anthony Appiah, British-born American philosopher, novelist, and scholar of African and of African American studies, and Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. Kuslima Shogen, CEO/Chairman of the Board/Director of the Alfacell Corporation, will receive an honorary doctor of science degree.

About Honorary Degree Recipients

Kwame Anthony Appiah is best known for his contribution to political philosophy, moral psychology, and the philosophy of culture. Born in London, Appiah attended primary school in Kumasi until the ruler of Ghana imprisoned his father.

He earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees at Cambridge. As an undergraduate, he met Henry Louis Gates, Jr. who became his collaborator on a number of projects, including the Amistad series of critical anthologies on major African-American writers. Appiah’s book “In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture” (1992) focused on Africa’s struggle for self-definition in a world dominated by Western values and became an instant classic. His most recent book is “Thinking It Through: An Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy.” He is the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University.

Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, holds the second most influential and powerful position in the Secretariat. Prior to joining the Secretariat in 1999, Professor Gambari was the longest serving Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations. He chaired the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid, which successfully saw the demise of that injustice and the establishment of democratic rule in South Africa.

He earned a B.Sc. (Economics) degree in political science from the London School of Economics, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Kuslima Shogen, CEO/Chairman of the Board/Director of the Alfacell Corporation, is an internationally recognized thought-leader in ribonuclease-based therapeutics. She formed Alphacell in 1981 to pursue research that she had initiated while a biology student in the University Honors Program at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Shogun was named to the first annual PharmaVOICE 100 List of the Most Inspiring People.

Alfacell Corporation is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of novel therapeutics for cancer.

About Student Pinnacle Winners

Jessica Heulitt, who will earn a Master of Arts in Teaching degree, has been involved in seven organizations, served as a officer in four, and made significant contributions to the campus and the local community.

While one of the top students on campus, she was a four-year letter-winner for the women’s basketball team, serving as a captain for her senior season. The athletic department selected Heulitt to represent the university at the New Jersey Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women “2005 Woman of the Year Luncheon.”

Heulitt was selected for Who’s Who in American Universities and Colleges. As part of her interest in education, she took part in the “Reading Partners” program with the Madison Library last spring and worked with S.T.A.R.T., an on-campus alcohol awareness program.

Over her five years at the College at Florham, Heulitt has excelled academically. In 2003, she was named a Charter Day Scholar. And for three straight years, she earned the award for the highest GPA of a Greek Female. Heulitt also earned the James A. Griffo Award, presented to the senior athlete with the highest GPA. Her name has appeared on the Dean’s List or the Honors List every semester.

Active in her sorority, Theta Phi Alpha, Jessica served as the Scholarship Chair as a junior and as the sorority President as a senior. She assisted at the Eric Johnson House, an organization whose mission is to provide transitional housing with supportive services for people living with HIV/AIDS. With her sorority sisters, Heulitt took part in the Adopt-a-Highway program and in charity walks for heart disease, breast cancer, and diabetes.

Keisha Baptiste, native of the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago, is the 2006 Pinnacle Award winner from the Metropolitan Campus, Teaneck, NJ. Baptiste will graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Civil Engineering Technology.

Baptiste came to FDU after having taught high school math and physics. Awarded a Colonel Fairleigh Dickinson Scholarship in 2002, she immediately became involved in campus life. A resident assistant since her sophomore year, Keisha also became involved in the International Student Association and the Student Government Association and has held the treasurer’s positions in both organizations. Craving more interaction with the student body, she became a Metro-Lounge attendant in the Student Union Building and now serves as the Area Supervisor.

In her senior year, Baptiste served as vice-president of the student government association and has received the “Above and Beyond” award in recognition for her outstanding contribution and academic performance as well as her commitment of the office of Residence Life. This outstanding service to the FDU community was recognized by the Dean of Students, and she was awarded a Campus Service Grant. Keisha was recently awarded the International Student Undergraduate Award and was inducted into the Phi Omega Epsilon Honor Society.

Earlier she was a recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship and was inducted into the Phi Zeta Kappa Honor Society, which honors students of high academic achievement.

While busy with campus activities, Keisha joined the Honors program as a freshman and has completed research for her thesis, which is a proposal for the design and construction of a new footbridge over the Hackensack River linking the Teaneck and Hackensack sides of the Metropolitan Campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University.

For full background information visit

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Gretchen Johnson

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This release authored with FDU Pagetoaster.