Our advanced degree recipients from 2020 and 2021 had stories of strength and growth even before arriving at Manhattan College. Armed with their hard-earned graduate degrees, these students are now poised to achieve even bigger things.
Praise Omiponle ’19, ’21 (MBA) will be the graduate student speaker at Manhattan College’s virtual 2020/21 Graduate Commencement on Saturday, May 15.
Omiponle received her bachelor’s degree cum laude in management and global business in 2019 and completed her MBA with a concentration in business analytics in December 2020. She completed her coursework with a 3.95 grade point average.
With engineering students Karthik Maddur ’19 and Kishan Thakurdin ’19, Omiponle was part of the winning team at the 2019 O’Malley School of Business Innovation Challenge. The trio won the $2,500 prize, having created QuickMech, a smartphone app that allows users to find local car mechanics in their area.
Omiponle was a graduate research assistant in the business analytics department at Manhattan College during the fall 2020 semester. During that time, she conducted data analysis on different datasets related to CRISPR, a tool used for editing genomes. She also performed data visualization using R coding and graphing.
Omiponle currently works as a product marketing manager at 3 Twenty Spice, a family owned company run by Chef Sinclair Thorne III and his spouse Kaye Gentle, which produces refined pepper and barbecue sauces.
A mechanical engineering student, Xu plans to pursue a Ph.D. degree in biomedical engineering. A student in Manhattan College’s graduate mechanical engineering program, Hongbin Xu ’19, 20 (M.S.) has been named the Spring Commencement valedictorian.
Currently a laser engineering intern for Rhode Island-based Aerocyonics Inc., Xu has also worked on campus as a research assistant in the mechanical engineering department and as a teaching assistant and 3D printing lab manager. He has been accepted into the University of Connecticut’s Ph.D. program in biomedical engineering, where he plans to study femtosecond lasers and their interaction with various materials, including biological samples, such as brain tissues.
Born in China, Xu moved to Queens, New York, as a teenager. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics from Manhattan in 2019, graduating summa cum laude. As an undergraduate, Xu participated in the Jasper Summer Research Program and was inducted into 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 was the recipient of the National Science Foundation STEM Scholarship and the Brother Aubert Medal for Mechanical Engineering.
“As someone who came here at the age of 16, I could not even imagine a day that I would receive the honor of being a valedictorian for the College’s graduate class,” Xu said. “This is really the manifestation of the American dream for me. It really convinces me that as long as I work hard, I’ll go as far as I can.”
The Spring Commencement awards master’s degrees to students graduating from the School of Engineering, School of Science and O’Malley School of Business; master’s degrees and professional diplomas to students from the School of Education and Health; and bachelor’s and master’s degrees to students in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
Xu will deliver the valedictory address on behalf of his classmates at a ceremony to be held at a future date.
Future Plans: To advance to a leadership role at the energy supplier Con Edison, where she currently works as an analyst. In the more distant future, Latia would also like to open her own restaurant or bakery.
How did you become interested in choosing organizational leadership?
I’ve been working at Con Edison for seven years and started out as a meter reader, which is a union position. Since then, I’ve always admired the plethora of positions available in management. I decided that I needed to expand my education and search for an opportunity in management.
Why did you choose Manhattan College?
While networking within Con Edison, I’ve met several management personnel that graduated from Manhattan College. Many of those individuals referred me to the Organizational Leadership program within the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
What made you want to continue your education?
To expand my employment opportunities. During these times, education is required to land a steady job in the market. Receiving an education was also a long-term goal for me. I am following in the footsteps of my mother, who is first in the family to go to college.
What are some of your memorable experiences at Manhattan College?
Study Abroad-Cuba 2019! A wonderful opportunity where I was able to experience leadership culturally. My experience was so memorable that I still remember the professors and other people we met while visiting. My photo album from this trip is by far my favorite to look through.
The Capstone classes were an experience that I underestimated quite a bit. My cohort worked night and day to provide useful recommendations to our client and in the end, witnessing his gratitude was rewarding. I have a brand new respect for consultant work.
What advice would you offer to incoming freshmen?
Take advantage of the programs, extracurricular activities and opportunities on campus.