Class of 2021 Speakers
SJC Brooklyn Valedictorian
Rachel Rocha always dreamed of graduating from college. Her parents, both immigrants, didn't attend college, but they constantly stressed the importance of education to Rachel and her three siblings, growing up.
Rachel, a marketing major with a minor in business administration and a concentration in sports management, makes family history this spring as a first-generation college graduate, while leading SJC Brooklyn's Class of 2021 as its valedictorian.
St. Joseph's College served as a home away from home for Rachel of Linden, New Jersey. SJC Brooklyn recruited Rachel for her athletic prowess — she was a co-captain of the campus’ women's soccer team — and she loved the school's small class sizes and the thought of studying in New York City.
At SJC, Rachel volunteered as the student manager of the women's basketball team, held leadership positions in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, served as an orientation leader, and took part in the Residence Life Association. She also tutored her peers in the Academic Center and was a student worker in the Office of Admissions.
A lifelong athlete, Rachel has long dreamed of working in the world of sports. She began her college career as a biology major, hoping to become an athletic trainer. But Rachel, with guidance from her professor Lori Thanos, associate chair and assistant professor of business administration and marketing, soon gravitated toward the business department. It proved to be the perfect fit: the marketing major allowed her to embrace her creativity, the business administration minor introduced her to the business side of the field, and the sports management concentration helps her follow her passion for sports.
The combination of classes prepared Rachel to excel as a public relations intern for the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Rocha is now set to begin pursuing a graduate degree at Temple University in the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management and work as a graduate assistant in the university’s athletic department.
SJC Long Island
Yicel E. Moreno
SJC Long Island Undergraduate Speaker
Yicel E. Moreno is earning her bachelor’s degree in child study with a concentration in speech. Throughout her four years at St. Joseph’s College, Yicel has embodied the College’s motto Esse non videri — “To be, not to seem.”
Yicel, of East Patchogue, continually fulfilled service opportunities while studying at SJC Long Island, volunteering at soup kitchens and preparing meals for homeless shelters, participating each year in the Pumpkin Pie Bake-a-thon and Christmas Gift Drive, and donating her time and efforts at Special Olympics.
The Bellport High School alumna also served as a volunteer teacher at the Patchogue-Medford Library, planted vegetation at the St. Joseph the Worker garden in Patchogue and took part in the campus’ 2019 Alternative Winter Break trip to Camden, New Jersey.
On campus, Yicel joined Students Taking an Active Role in Society (STARS), serving as the club’s vice president from 2018 to 2020.
In addition to her extracurricular activities, Yicel excelled in the classroom, earning a spot on the Dean’s List, along with membership in the Gamma Tau Delta Honor Society, Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education and Delta Epsilon Sigma National Honor Society.
Yicel also had the opportunity to study abroad in Romania, where her desire to serve others grew into what it is today.
In a presentation she prepared for commencement, Yicel reminds her classmates that “To serve, you only need a listening ear, a heart full of kindness, and a spirit created by love.”
Michael V. DeCicco
SJC Long Island Graduate Speaker
Michael V. DeCicco graduates this spring with an MBA in Health Care Management. He earned his B.S. from SJC Long Island in Hospitality and Tourism Management with a Concentration in Health Care. He currently works as an employee relations specialist for Northwell Health.
Michael was honored by the College in 2018, receiving an Alumni Achievement Award in Health Care and Human Services for his work with Northwell Health, and earlier in 2017, when SJC named him a Leader on the Horizon.
During both his undergraduate and graduate years at St. Joseph’s, Michael was extremely involved in service-related activities. He served as a member and eventually on the executive board of the SJC Long Island chapter of Project Sunshine, where he helped put together care packages for children at Good Samaritan Hospital and visited monthly with pediatric patients. He also participated in Relay for Life and joined Relay’s executive board, helping to fundraise and host the College’s annual event that raises money for the American Cancer Society. Additionally, he was a brother and executive board member of the fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon, with whom he regularly attended and hosted charity events at SJC Long Island.
Michael has also participated in a number of service events through his work, including the Northwell Health Walk and the Les Nelkin Pediatric Cancer Survivors Day Event. His previous volunteer work at two different hospitals led him to his career with Northwell Health today.
During his speech written for the Class of 2021, Michael acknowledges that “while we all may have different career aspirations, we share the same end-goal of helping others in one way or another. This shared goal is what unites us in making a difference in the 21st century. This is our opportunity to leave our mark and lead by example through service.”