Please note Commencement and First in Class Speakers for 2020 will be announced in the new year.
Undergraduate Commencement Speaker 2019
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck
Laura Bilodeau Overdeck, founder of Bedtime Math and chair of the Overdeck Family Foundation, is a social entrepreneur and philanthropist who has moved the needle on math and science education reform.
Through her work at Bedtime Math, Overdeck developed an application that delivers nightly math problems for parents and kids to solve together, giving parents a free, simple tool that provides long-lasting gains in their children's math skills, effectively changing their academic trajectories. In addition to the app, which has garnered more than a quarter of a million downloads, Overdeck has also written four books and launched Crazy 8s, the nation’s largest recreational after-school math club, which enables young children to explore math through play.
In parallel, the Overdeck Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports math and science education reform in the U.S, focusing on new school and teacher training models, informal STEM learning programs and early childhood programming. The foundation provides funding across five focus areas – early impact, exceptional educators, innovative schools, inspired minds and data for action – encompassing the whole child from birth through graduation both inside and outside the classroom.
Overdeck’s success has been accompanied by proven results. A study published in Science found that within just one school year, kids who used the Bedtime Math app improved their math achievement on average by three months more than children who didn’t use the app.
A Johns Hopkins University study on Crazy 8s, which is a free program, showed that the club significantly reduces children’s feelings of math anxiety after eight weeks of participation. The effect was more pronounced among younger kids in the kindergarten through second grade club than the third through fifth grade club. Since 2014, 140,000 children have participated in 10,000 Crazy 8s clubs across the country.
Prior to founding Bedtime Math in 2012, Overdeck worked for Stanford Research Institute/SRI Consulting, where she helped high-tech clients build mathematical models to forecast sales for new products.
A native of New Jersey, Overdeck is a trustee at Princeton University and board vice chair at Liberty Science Center, and serves on the advisory boards of Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, Khan Academy and Governor’s School of New Jersey. She received an A.B. in astrophysical sciences from Princeton and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
Graduate Commencement Speaker 2019
Frank Sorrentino III
Frank Sorrentino is Chairman and CEO of ConnectOne Bank, a full-service commercial bank that serves the New Jersey and New York markets. Mr. Sorrentino founded ConnectOne Bank in 2005 when he realized banks in his community were lacking a focus on the small to midsize business owner along with the financial features and superior client service he was looking for to support his construction business. To help solve this problem, he decided to build a bank that proved putting people first was a better way to do business.
Under Sorrentino’s leadership, ConnectOne Bank has grown across the New Jersey and New York area to over $6 billion in assets and 29 locations. In February 2013, ConnectOne Bank became the first bank to go public since the recession of 2007-2009. Since its establishment, the company has experienced rapid growth, complimented by two mergers, propelling the company to become one of the largest commercial banks headquartered in New Jersey. Today, ConnectOne Bank continues to grow its people-first business model into new markets within New York and New Jersey.
In 2011 and 2012, SNL Financial recognized ConnectOne Bank as a “Top 5 Best Performing Community Bank in the Country”. Additionally, ConnectOne Bank has been named in the top 10 on NJBIZ’s “50 Fastest Growing Companies” list and was a recipient of the Forbes Enterprise Award.
Mr. Sorrentino serves as a thought leader in the industry, frequently commentating on CNBC, Bloomberg and Fox Business and in The Wall Street Journal and American Banker. He is also a contributor to Forbes.com. In 2013, Mr. Sorrentino was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Bankers Association, where he served a three-year team. More recently, he was named the 2018 Executive of the Year by the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.
Previously, Mr. Sorrentino served as president of FSS Construction, Inc., a family-owned third generation construction business that specializes in custom-built luxury residential homes. FSS was founded in 1979 and based in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. During his time at FSS Construction, Inc. he was named "Builder of the Year" in 1995 by the Builders Association of Northern New Jersey.
Mr. Sorrentino earned his B.S. in Construction Engineering Technology from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1987.
First in Class Speakers 2019
Justin Barish of Kings Park, New York is first in the Stevens Institute of Technology Class of 2019. He graduates with a bachelor’s in computer science and a master’s in cybersecurity with a 4.0 GPA.
Barish is the recipient of several prestigious Stevens scholarships including the Presidential Scholarship, the FIRST Robotics Scholarship and the Stephen L. Bloom Scholarship, which is awarded to computer science majors who are actively involved in music. On campus, Barish has been a member of the Stevens Concert Band (euphonium) and Jazz Band (piano).
Barish belongs to Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the computer science honor society, and serves on the dean’s undergraduate advisory board in the Schaefer School of Engineering and Science.
Through two summer internships at Zebra Technologies, he gained valuable experience in 3D Vision algorithm development. After graduation, Barish will return to Zebra Technologies to begin a career as a software engineer in the areas of computer vision, machine learning and cybersecurity.
Matthew McCreesh of St. James, New York is first in the Stevens Institute of Technology Class of 2019. He earned a bachelor’s in computer science with a 4.0 GPA.
McCreesh is a member of Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE), the international honor society dedicated to the discipline of the computing and information disciplines. An avid sports enthusiast, he is a member of Stevens’ baseball club team.
During his time at Stevens, McCreesh accumulated an impressive array of work experiences in software development and IT through internships at Cablevision (now part of Altice USA), K2 Intelligence, SPHERE Technology Solutions, LGS Innovations and, most recently Microsoft. At the software giant’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, he was given significant freedom to design and direct his own projects in the area of network monitoring. After graduation, McCreesh will return to Washington to begin his career at Microsoft as a software engineer.
Carolina Velasquez of Weehawken, New Jersey is first in the Stevens Institute of Technology Class of 2019. She earned a bachelor’s in Finance with a 4.0 GPA.
Outside of academics, Velasquez has contributed to Stevens in its mission to attract students of richly diverse talents and backgrounds. As a student ambassador, she has shared valuable insights and perspectives about the broad undergraduate experience at Stevens to many prospective and accepted students.
In summer 2017, Velasquez took a major step toward her career goal of working in the financial industry when she gained valuable experience through an internship at one of the "Big Four" accounting firms, EY, an international leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Her impressive performance there earned a second internship at the global firm the following summer. After graduation, Velasquez will assume a full-time position in EY’s structured finance division in New York City.