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CNR to Present Honorary Degree to Aulana Pharis Peters, First African American Woman to Serve on U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, During 111th Commencement Ceremony

May 15, 2018
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(Left) Aulana Pharis Peters, (Right) Taren Sterry.

The College of New Rochelle will bestow an honorary degree on Aulana Pharis Peters, one of only three women – and the first African-American woman – to serve as Commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, during its 111th Commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 22 at the Beacon Theater in New York City. Taren Sterry, Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation and owner of Big Time Coaching, will be the keynote speaker. 

Nearly 1,000 baccalaureate and master’s degrees will be awarded to students from the College’s four schools at the ceremony.  Refuge of Hope Church Pastor Clara Rivera, wife of Yankees Baseball Legend and CNR Honorary Degree Recipient Mariano Rivera, will conduct the invocation during the ceremony. Mariano Rivera will attend the ceremony.

About the honorees:

Aulana Pharis Peters

The eldest of five sisters, Peters is an example of what a woman can achieve through education, exploration, and a belief that success is realized through hard work, honesty and determination.  Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Peters graduated from the Notre Dame School for Girls in 1959. It was a natural transition then for her to attend CNR, at the time an all-women’s institution, where she immersed herself not only in academic pursuits, but in numerous activities and leadership roles. In 1963, Peters graduated from CNR with a B.A. in Philosophy.

After graduation, Peters spent the next several years in Europe before returning to the United States in 1970 and settling in California, where she earned her J.D. from the USC Law Center. She joined the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, working in securities litigation, and was named a partner in 1980. Just four years later, President Ronald Reagan appointed Peters Commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), where she served until 1988.

Peters has served on numerous corporate boards, including those of Northrop Grumman Corporation, Merrill Lynch, 3M Corporation, and Mobil Corporation.  She has also served on the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Exchange and its Market Regulatory Advisory Committee. In 1993, she returned to CNR as a member of its Board of Trustees.

Among the myriad awards bestowed on Peters, two, in particular, resonate as recognition of a woman who has gone above and beyond for her country and community, The William O. Douglas Award, conferred by the Association of SEC Alumni, recognized her as someone who has made contributions to the development of federal securities laws and served the financial and SEC community with distinction; and the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans honored her with its Horatio Alger Award as one of ten "dedicated community leaders who demonstrate individual initiative and a commitment to excellence as exemplified by remarkable achievements accomplished through honesty, hard work, self-reliance and perseverance over adversity." The College of New Rochelle, too, has applauded its distinguished alumna, naming her an honoree at two College Galas and awarding her the Ursula Laurus Citation and the Women of Achievement Award.

Taren Sterry

Sterry exemplifies the College’s motto – Wisdom for Life. Throughout her life, she has continued her education. She is a 2002 graduate of CNR, where she earned a Master’s in Gerontology and a Certificate in Thanatology. Prior to attending CNR, Sterry graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where she majored in Community Studies, with a focus on end-of-life care and hospice. After graduating from CNR, she went on to work for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York Hospice Care, the largest provider of homecare in the New York metropolitan area. For more than 15 years, she managed the volunteer training program and supervised more than 2,500 hospice volunteers.

Today, as a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation, Sterry has completed over 1,100 hours of certified coaching and over 5,000 hours of trainings, classes and workshops. She is also owner of Big Time Coaching, where she works with individuals and companies to help them achieve bigger goals and be more powerful. And, equally as impressive, she has created and performed her own one-woman show, 180 Days, where she recounts her work with hospice patients—acknowledging both the humor and pathos as individuals and families confront the immediacy of death.