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Meet Your Class of 2023 Commencement Speaker: Frankie Kadir

By Jenn Ward and Belle Martinelli

Kadir with his senior project up in Times Square (Photo via Kadir)

Frankie Kadir is about to take center stage for his biggest performance yet: class of 2023 commencement speaker.

As a double major in new media and theater and performance, and a minor in museum studies, with many jobs and contributions he’s made to the campus community, Kadir is leaving his mark on this campus.

A student from each graduating class is selected every year to address their peers, professors, and families at the commencement ceremony. For a school as highly ambitious and creative as Purchase, this opportunity is held in high regard.

“The senior class speaker position at Purchase is done by audition. There’s a committee of different people, students are invited to send in an essay on remarks they’d like to give, says Executive Assistant to the President, Carrie Bianchi. “Each person comes in and we have a very specific rubric and score each person and have a great discussion about each candidate. We select based on the rubric.”

Due to his impressive resume and his graceful speech, Kadir was selected for this position. “I think my key point in this speech is community building and kind of hope for being the change the future needs and that the future yearns for,” says Kadir. “I’m, like, overwhelmed with joy that the class of 2023 is what it is.”

The most important part of campus to Kadir is building a sense of community, he says. Whether through public art spaces or delivering quarantine meals, he was here for it all. Kadir became an RA in his sophomore year, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think leadership is very important to me because of the systemic oppression that is still haunting the college and that haunts the world for those who have been historically oppressed,” Kadir says. “Any way that I can make change in the community I really hope to. I don’t necessarily want to take up space, but if there is a space for me, I want to be able to use that in a positive light and make sure that happens.”

By being vocal about his childhood and what it was like growing up adopted and queer, Kadir expresses his pride in his community and the Purchase College atmosphere that was framed by him and his peers. Kadir is open with the fact that he spent much of his start at Purchase overwhelmed, and even debated on transferring.

“My sophomore year was the time where I really questioned am I going to be at Purchase, can I do four years here, like what the fuck is a global pandemic?”

Although Kadir has been involved with many different projects and communities on campus, he says his proudest work is his work on the Neuberger Museum’s “Hard Return” exhibition.

“Hard Return” was a weeks-long exhibition performed at the museum earlier this semester with choreography and concepts put on by professionals, and offering roles in the performances to students on campus to participate in.

Kadir worked as the curatorial and production coordinator assistant for this exhibition. Tasked with managing social media, casting, creating promotional work, and more, Kadir was able to successfully showcase public art.

Kadir worked with Kate Gilmore, a professor of art and design, to put on this show. For the past two years, Gilmore has been Kadir’s mentor, but more importantly, friend.

“Frankie is intelligent, ambitious, determined, reliable, kind, and thoughtful. Frankie is someone I can always count on to come through,” Gilmore says. “If I had a gazillion dollars, Frankie would be working with me at all times. He gives me faith in the future. An individual like Frankie is an inspiration to us all.”

Kadir has left an impact on the Purchase College community during his time as a student here. From his involvement on campus to the connections he’s built with people along the way, Kadir has made a name for himself..

Kadir is outspoken about his gratitude to his faculty and peers. He speaks heavily about the impact they have made on his life and how they’ve made him who he is today.

“Here come the waterworks. There’s nothing else I could say but thank you,” Kadir says. “I think actions are much louder than words, and this will be a tell-tale that I owe so much to my professors at Purchase. I’ve been pushed so fucking hard at Purchase to think and to make space to think.”

Kadir also speaks about how proud he is not only of his graduating class but how grateful he is to be a part of this group of students. Kadir was near tears speaking about how

Kadir and his friends (from left to right) Nicole Brea,

Alondra Martinez Geronimo, Anthony Cruz, Julianna

Vargas, Kadir, Carolina Fernandez and Mayari Guzman

proud he is of his friends, all of the accomplishments that they have made on this journey together, and the love that they have showered him with.

I’m just so proud to call my friends my friends. Despite hardships, despite anything ever getting in the way, I’m really proud of my friends, classmates, and peers because we are graduating college! I feel so loved and taken care of. I get to be friends with these people. How did I get so lucky? Mind-blown. It just makes me incredibly proud to see not just my friends but my peers overall,” Kadir says.

“We’re going to wear those caps and gowns, sashes, chords, and everything with grace, honor, confidence, and pride and I think everyone should be extremely proud of themselves.”

Along with expressing his love for his friends, Kadir also speaks about his pride in being part of the public school system and being a student at Purchase College.

“People should be proud to call themselves a Purchase student because Purchase holds such weight to it in the real world,” said Kadir. “There’s a lot of seriousness that comes with being a Purchase student and I’m really excited to see where my friends go and to see their careers take off.”

And although Kadir found himself in the Purchase community, the road getting to commencement was not always easy. Kadir speaks on how his struggle during his freshman year impacted him, and if he could go back he would tell himself everything was going to work out.

“You can make as much art as you want. You can talk to as many people as you want. But at the end of the day, and I don’t mean to sound nihilistic or like I have no soul or character,” Kadir says, “but at the end of the day, we came into this world alone and we leave alone. Everyone we meet along the way is here for a reason.”



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