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2020 Undergraduates

The class of 2020 overcame challenges and logged milestone achievements. Read their stories, and see how some of our most recent graduates are already making their mark.

2020 Valedictorian

  • Miguel Díaz-López ’20 Named Manhattan College’s Undergraduate Valedictorian
    Miguel Diaz-Lopez sitting next to a river.

    A talented percussionist, Miguel Díaz-López will go on to the Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

    Manhattan College has named Miguel Díaz-López ’20 undergraduate valedictorian for the class of 2020. A mechanical engineering major with a minor in physics, Díaz-López was born in Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, and raised in the Bronx, New York. The first in his family to earn a college degree, Díaz-López attended the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, New York, and considered pursuing a degree in music before becoming interested in math and physics.

    “I come from a family where no one has gone to college, only a few graduated high school, and some had to quit as early as the fourth grade because they had to work to get money for the family,” Díaz-López said. “My family has never been to a college graduation, and now they get to experience one where someone they know was chosen to be valedictorian. This is a huge testament to the work that I have done, but also a testament to the amazing mentorship I received along the way from the faculty at Manhattan College.” 

    During his college career, Díaz-López worked on a number of research and academic projects, including the National Institutes of Health-funded trial, Mi Vida Saludable (My Healthy Life) through Columbia University, which aims to improve cancer prognoses and survival rates among Hispanic breast cancer survivors. In the summer of 2019, he participated in a research project at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, where he designed an accurate velocity estimator for an automated tram. At Manhattan, he created a simulated model to test the dangers of concussions, and presented his findings at the International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE) in 2019.

    Díaz-López is an inductee of the national honor societies Tau Beta Pi (engineering) and Pi Tau Sigma (mechanical engineering), as well as Manhattan’s highest scholastic honor society, Epsilon Sigma Pi. He received several academic scholarships, including the National Science Foundation STEM Scholarship; the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and the James Patterson Scholarship. He has helped other students as a tutor in engineering, physics and math, both at Manhattan and through J.P. Morgan Chase’s The Fellowship Initiative (TFI), which provides mentorship and academic support to underserved young people.

    In addition to his academic achievements, Díaz-López is an accomplished percussionist. In the 12 years of his musical training, he played instruments such as the timpani, snare drum, bass drum, crash cymbals, marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel bells and vibraphone. He served as drumline leader for the Manhattan College Pep Band and performed as a soloist and in percussion ensembles at the Bloomingdale School of Music in New York City.

    After graduation, Díaz-López plans to pursue a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He will deliver the valedictory address on behalf of his classmates at a ceremony to be held at a future date.

2020 Gunn Medal Recipient

  • Ellen Farrelly ’20 Receives Joseph J. Gunn ’30 Alumni Medal

    Ellen Farrelly smiling in Manhattan College's bookstore holding a teddy bear dressed in a graduation gown.Ellen Farrelly ’20 has been awarded Manhattan College’s Joseph J. Gunn ’30 Alumni Medal, the College announced today. Bestowed on a graduating senior who personifies Manhattan’s Lasallian mission through significant contributions to the College, the Gunn Medal is recognized as one of the College’s highest undergraduate honors.

    Graduating with a degree in chemical engineering and minors in environmental engineering and theater, Farrelly was named to the dean’s list every semester of her college career. In 2018, she participated in the Jasper Summer Research Scholars Program, through which she worked on a National Institutes of Health-funded project with Bryan Wilkins, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry. She is a member of several engineering societies including the New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA) and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). She has been inducted into Manhattan’s college-wide honor society, Epsilon Sigma Pi, as well as national engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi, for which she served as chapter vice president for the 2019-20 academic year.
    An Irish dancer, singer and musician, Farrelly has been a member of several performing arts groups on campus, including the Manhattan College Singers, Players and Music Ministry. A co-founder of the Jasper Irish dance team, she was a keyboardist for the Pep Band and served as its president during her senior year.
    “We have been so lucky to have a student as passionate about Manhattan College as Ellen on campus,” said John Bennett, executive director of Student Engagement. Praising her many contributions to student life, he noted that “on any given evening on the Pep Band, Ellen can be seen energizing both the crowd and her peers, assisting band members with their equipment and personal development. Ellen has been an absolute pleasure to have on campus.”
    Hailing from Yonkers, New York, Farrelly was a regular supporter of the College-sponsored community event Safe Halloween. She served as a Student Government – Alumni Society representative and worked as a liaison between both bodies. She has been an active participant in the College’s Kairos retreat program and Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience (LOVE) social justice immersion program.
    During a LOVE trip to Israel and Palestine in March 2018, Farrelly learned about the drinking and irrigation water needs of Palestinian farmers, an experience that influenced her decision to pursue environmental engineering with the hope of increasing water quality locally and globally for underserved populations. She recently returned to campus to collect gloves and masks from several labs for donation to nearby medical facilities. 
    The award will be presented at the class of 2020 Spring Honors Convocation, which will be held at a future date.

Ceremony Information

Get ceremony information for 2020 Undergraduates commencement.