U.S. Senator Cory Booker will serve as the 2014 commencement keynote speaker, the Office of the President has announced. Booker, former mayor of Newark, took office in October after winning the special election.
"I love Ramapo and see the profound impact Ramapo and its graduates have on New Jersey and beyond," Booker tweeted to Ramapo News editors. "I'm so honored to be this year's speaker. I sincerely consider this one of the greatest honors I've had as a Senator to be selected as this year's speaker."
Booker, a Democrat, is the first African-American U.S. Senator from New Jersey and the first African-American to be elected to the Senate since Barack Obama in 2004. In the past, Cory Booker has addressed graduating classes at Stanford University, Yale University and Cornell University.
"We're delighted to have Senator Booker address our 2014 graduates and believe our students and their guests will feel the same," said Anna Farneski, associate vice president for governmental relations.
Booker's counterpart in the Senate, Robert Menendez, gave the 2010 commencement keynote speech, and in recent years, Ramapo has welcomed Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, CBS news anchor Chris Wragge and Assemblyman Timothy Eustace to its commencement celebrations.
"He's going to bring a lot of celebrity power to [graduation]," said senior Tommy Zampese. "He'll bring energy to it. I'm actually excited to go now."
Fellow senior Matthew Kobza said he expects Booker to have an interesting address.
"I think he'll bring a good speech," Kobza said. "I think he'll be inspiring. I think he'll probably talk about politics and bring his campaign in, but I do still think it'll be interesting to hear him talk."
Booker is currently campaigning for re-election in the fall.
"He's a big name now," Christopher Gabbett, another senior, said. "He's spoken at a lot of colleges the last couple of years. He's the 'in' politician right now, especially with how big he is on social media. That's pretty much his claim to fame."
The student speaker at the commencement ceremony will be Joseph Romano, a business marketing major.
"It's a great honor and I feel happy that I can leave Ramapo with some of my own words, what my experience was," said Romano.
Romano hopes to help lead the graduates into the future by bridging the gap between their learning experiences in college and those they will have in the future.
"Life doesn't stop after college, and it's always a learning experience going forward," he said.
Other New Jersey colleges and universities have recently announced their commencement keynote speakers. Rutgers University's 2014 commencement will feature former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and novelist James Patterson will be speaking at Montclair State University's commencement ceremony.
Ramapo's 2014 commencement ceremony will be held on Friday, May 16 at 10 a.m. at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford.