NYU School of Professional Studies Convocation Ceremonies to Recognize Achievements of 1,611 Graduates


Former US Secretary of Labor, Alexis Herman, to Deliver Undergraduate Convocation Address on May 15

Leading Political Consultant and CNN Commentator,
Paul Begala, to Address Graduate Degree Candidates on May 19

NEW YORK, May 10, 2017More than 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students from across the country and around the world will receive their degrees from the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYUSPS) during Convocation ceremonies that will recognize them for their completion of rigorous, professionally oriented programs of study. The undergraduate Convocation ceremony will take place on Monday May 15, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt New York. The graduate Convocation ceremony will take place on Friday May 19, 5 – 7 p.m. at Radio City Music Hall.

NYUSPS is renowned as an educational institution that prepares studentsthose just beginning their careers as well as seasoned professionalswith the knowledge and skill sets necessary to compete and succeed in emerging industries here in the US and around the world. “The NYU School of Professional Studies serves as an incubator of professional talent for sectors that demand the theoretical and practical education our programs provide. Our graduates are uniquely prepared to, not only contribute to their chosen professions, but to become innovators and thought leaders in their industries because of the education they have acquired here at NYUSPS,” asserted Dennis Di Lorenzo, Harvey J. Stedman Dean, NYU School of Professional Studies. I have every confidence they will do us proud as they leave our classrooms to launch or further advance their careers here in New York City and across the globe. 


This year’s Convocation speakers reflect the School’s deep commitment to offering a civic-minded and global perspective in all facets of teaching and learning.


Former Secretary of Labor for the Clinton Administration, Alexis Herman will speak at the undergraduate Convocation ceremony. Herman was born on July 16, 1947 in Mobile, Alabama to politician Alex Herman and educator Gloria Caponis. She graduated from Heart of Mary High School in Mobile in 1965, and enrolled in Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, and then Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama before transferring to St. Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, where she earned a BA in sociology in 1969. She attended the University of South Alabama for graduate studies.

After graduation, Herman worked with Catholic Charities in Pascagoula, Mississippi and several other agencies, promoting minority employment for women and youth. She also fought for unskilled African Americans in the shipbuilding industry, rallied to improve conditions for women’s employment, and succeeded in persuading several corporations—including Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines—to hire women for upper-level corporate positions. It was during this time that she first met Jimmy Carter while he was campaigning in Atlanta, Georgia for the presidency. Upon assuming the presidency in 1977, Carter appointed Herman to the Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau, making her, at 29 years of age, the youngest person to hold this position. During her four-year tenure, Herman launched the first initiative for women in the apprenticeship programs, promoted passage of legislation for displaced homemakers, and established the first federal childcare centers for workers.

After completing her service in the Carter administration, Herman founded A.M. Herman & Associates in 1981. She also continued to work for the Democratic Party and served as the chief executive officer for the 1992 Democratic National Convention. With President Bill Clinton’s victory, she once again entered public service as deputy director of the Presidential Transition office. During the Clinton administration, Herman also worked as the director of public liaison for the White House and in May of 1997, she became the first African American to hold the position of secretary of labor, and only the fifth woman in the history of this office to be appointed. During her tenure, she actively sought to improve and expand global child labor standards and she orchestrated the 1998 Workforce Investment Act passage, which improved job placement centers. Through her efforts to establish the Youth Opportunity Grants program, which provided money for job training and education to youths living in poor regions, youth unemployment dropped to historic lows. The election of 2000 found Herman actively aiding Al Gore’s presidential campaign. She was again slated to assume a position on the transition team for the White House, but the Republican victory curtailed this work.

Based in McLean, Virginia, Herman continues to be active within the Democratic Party and served as cochair of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, as well as on other committees and advisory boards. She also is the chair and chief executive officer of New Ventures, and holds positions on numerous boards, including: Entergy, Cummins, MGM Mirage, the Coca-Cola Company, Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago, as well as the Toyota Diversity Advisory Board. In 2007, she was inducted into the Minority Business Hall of Fame, and in 2017 she was inducted into the National Women’s History Project.

Today, Herman continues her work with several civic groups, including the National Urban League and the National Council of Negro Women. She also serves as cochair for the Clinton Bush Presidential Leadership Scholars Program and supports activities for her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta.


Paul Begala, a well-respected political consultant and a commentator for CNN, will speak at this year’s graduate Convocation ceremony. Born in New Jersey and raised in Missouri City, Texas, Begala is known in the highest-level political circles in the US and abroad, and serves as a commentator for CNN, where he is part of the political team that has won both an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Begala was a senior adviser for the pro-Obama Super PAC, making him one of only a few individuals to play a critical role in electing two different presidents.

After helping to engineer Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign with his partner, James Carville, Begala served as counselor to the president, becoming one of Clinton’s closest aides. He has consulted for political campaigns across the country and around the world, including advising politicians in Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Former President Bill Clinton described his longtime friend and former aide as “a witty dynamo from Sugar Land, Texas…who brought energy, focus, and credibility to our efforts.” Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Begala “embodies a passion for populism with a commitment to civility, no easy feat.”

Begala helped his friend, the late John F. Kennedy, Jr., launch the political magazine George, and wrote the “Capitol Hillbilly” column. He is the author of several New York Times bestselling political books, and is an affiliated professor of public policy at Georgetown University. He also has taught at the University of Texas and the University of Georgia. Along with James Carville and GOP strategist Karl Rove, he was recently inducted into the American Association of Political Consultants’ Hall of Fame.

Begala earned a bachelor’s degree in government and a law degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he was the student body president.


This year’s Convocation student speakers are prime examples of the unique individuals who choose the NYU School of Professional Studies to prepare them for careers and further study in industries that require specialized knowledge and skill sets. Each represents their class well, illustrating the diversity, determination, and discipline that epitomize the NYUSPS community of teaching and learning.


Reed Alexander Hodkin, who will graduate with a BA in social sciences from the NYUSPS Paul McGhee Division for Undergraduate Studies, will address the undergraduate class. Hodkin’s multifaceted career spans media and entertainment. He first rose to prominence as a television actor in his preteen years. His career took off at age 11, when he landed a role as a recurring guest star on NBC’s Will & Grace. He then went on to join the cast of Nickelodeon’s top-rated sitcom iCarly, playing the infamous villain Nevel Papperman, and reprised that role again in a special appearance on its spinoff Sam & Cat. His portrayal of Nevel earned him a 2013 Kids’ Choice Award nomination.

Passionate about children’s health and the fight against childhood obesity, in 2010 Hodkin became an ambassador for the Clinton Foundation’s Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and later joined forces with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative. These efforts were part of his nationwide eating campaign, which help change the foods offered to students in public schools, raise awareness for the childhood obesity epidemic, and inspire a generation of young people to take action.

In 2013, Hodkin wrote and published his first cookbook, KewlBites: 100 Nutritious, Delicious, and Family-Friendly Dishes (Rodale Books), which was endorsed by President Clinton in a cover quote. As an author and chef, he has been repeatedly featured on NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, CNN, and others, and has been profiled by the likes of People Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and the Associated Press.

Hodkin began his NYU career in 2013 at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, juggling his classes with simultaneous work on Nickelodeon and the launch of his cookbook. He soon found that the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYUSPS) Paul McGhee Division for Undergraduate Studies was a better fit for his hectic schedule.

“When I transferred to NYUSPS and took advantage of the online courses here, everything clicked. I could work in entertainment, same as always, without forfeiting the chance to one day graduate from NYU,” he says.

At NYUSPS, Hodkin pursued his passion for journalism. He had the opportunity to live and study abroad twice for academic purposes—first at the NYU academic center in Florence and later working at CNN International’s bureau in Hong Kong. Assigned to the Bureau’s news-gathering and digital divisions, he wrote and contributed to dozens of stories for CNN.com, and lent a hand to on-air broadcasts and the emerging CNN Money platform.

Throughout his studies at NYUSPS, Hodkin has balanced his course work with a range of professional endeavors. He launched a business—Reed Alexander Digital & Media consultancy—and served as a weekly on-air contributor to BBC Radio in London. He also served the NYU community by representing NYUSPS in the University Senate, spending a year as president of the newly formed McGhee Student Association and presiding over the Senate’s Public Relations Committee as vice chair.

In looking towards his future, Hodkin sees the promise of possibility ahead. “I’ve decided law school will be the next chapter for me,” he shares. “I have seen the world through the eyes of my NYU education over these past four years, and along the way, I’ve become a better journalist, student, and member of my community for it.”


Bhavana Surendra Singh, who will graduate with an MS in management and systems (STEM) from the NYUSPS Division of Programs in Business, will serve as the graduate student convocation speaker. Singh began her career as a business/technical consultant and developer at MNU Pharmaco in Mumbai, India. During her tenure there, she increased the client base by 30% through systems development and data analysis; developed a homegrown ERP system, which improved efficiency by 75%; and enabled interoperability between the CRM system and the new ERP system, improving the quality of quantifiable data collection by 50%. When her supervisors suggested she move to the business side of the operation, Singh decided to go back to school to pursue a master’s degree that would allow her to excel in the technical work she preferred.

The diversity of the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYUSPS) student body attracted her. “It’s one thing to read about different cultures, but to have the chance to actually interact with people from around the globe and to learn from them is an incredible opportunity,” she asserts.

Singh thrived as a student in the MS in management and systems program, increasing her marketability by expanding her skills and completing hands-on projects in technology risk management, database design, database warehousing and mining, and technology strategy management. For her capstone project, she developed the prototype for a complete mobile device risk-management plan for the NYU global academic centers.

Singh also has contributed greatly to the NYUSPS community. As the Management and Systems Student Association’s president and graduate student representative, she worked with students, faculty members, and administrators to acquire STEM designation for the MS in management and systems.

Securing this has opened new windows of opportunity for program graduates, enabling them to apply for positions that require STEM credentials. In addition, she and her team increased participation in Student Association events tenfold.

During her time at the School, Singh also served as a graduate assistant in the International Student Support Center (ISSC), the events chair for the NYUSPS Graduate Student Council, a core member of the Diversity Committee, and the events chair for the International Club. In recognition of her efforts in promoting cultural diversity and engagement through the International Club’s Global Village event, she was honored as a recipient of the NYU President’s Service Award.

Singh, who holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering in information technology from the University of Mumbai in India, plans to put the knowledge she has gained at NYUSPS to work as a business or technical analyst, while developing a start-up with the colleagues and professional contacts she has made over the course of her studies.

In addition to the NYUSPS Convocation ceremonies, the NYU 185th Commencement will take place on Wednesday, May 17, at Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY, from 11 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

For reporters who are interested in covering the School’s Convocation ceremonies, please contact Cheryl Feliciano at
cheryl.feliciano@nyu.edu or Alka Gupta at aag13@nyu.edu.

About the NYU School of Professional Studies

Established in 1934, the NYU School of Professional Studies (sps.nyu.edu) is one of NYU’s several degree-granting schools and colleges, each with a unique academic profile. The reputation of the School of Professional Studies arises from its place as the NYU home for study and applied research related to key knowledge-based industries where the New York region leads globally. This is manifest in the School’s diverse graduate, undergraduate, and Professional Pathways programs in fields such as Accounting, Finance, and Law; Applied Health; Arts, Design, and Film; Creative Cities and Economic Development; English-Language Learning; Entrepreneurship; Fundraising and Grantmaking; Global Affairs; Hospitality and Tourism Management; Human Resource Management and Development; Languages and Humanities; Management and Systems; Marketing; Project Management; Public Relations and Corporate Communication; Publishing; Real Estate, Real Estate Development, and Construction Management; Sports Management, Media, and Business; Translation; and Writing.

More than 100 distinguished full-time faculty members collaborate with an exceptional cadre of practitioner/adjunct faculty members and lecturers to create a vibrant professional and academic environment that educates over 5,000 degree-seeking students from around the globe each year. In addition, the School fulfills the recurrent professional education needs of local, national, and international economies, as evidenced by nearly 28,000 Professional Pathways enrollments in Career Advancement Courses and Diploma Programs. The School’s community is enriched by more than 31,000 degree-holding alumni worldwide, many of whom serve as mentors, guest speakers, and advisory board members. For more information about the NYU School of Professional Studies, visit sps.nyu.edu.