2010 Class Day Speaker, Valedictorian, and Salutatorian Announced

April 21, 2010

The Columbia University School of General Studies Class Day ceremony and reception will be held on Sunday, May 16 at 9 a.m.
Class Day Speaker
This year’s Class Day speaker is Jacques Pépin, a 1970 graduate of GS and a world-renowned chef, author, and television host.
Pépin left school at the age of 13 for a formal apprenticeship in a French kitchen. After working his way up through the restaurants of Paris and serving as the personal chef to Charles de Gaulle, he immigrated to New York. Pépin began taking English-language courses at Columbia and, after two years of intensive study, applied to the School of General Studies. He attended GS part time while working as the director of research and new development for the Howard Johnson Company. After graduating from GS in 1970, he went on to earn a master’s in French literature from Columbia’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Over the past four decades Pépin has achieved extraordinary success as a restaurateur, author, television host, and instructor. He currently teaches at the French Culinary Institute, where he also serves as Dean of Special Programs, and Boston University, where he helped to establish the master’s program in gastronomy. His books La Technique and La Methode are considered landmarks in the culinary field, and along with his friend and cohost Julia Child, he received a Daytime Emmy for “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home.” He is also the recipient of three of the French government’s highest honors and is a Chevalier de L’Ordre National de Legion d’Honneur, a Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and a Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole.
This year’s valedictorian is Brian Corman. Before attending GS, Brian was a professional dancer with the Houston Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the Washington Ballet, and Cedar Lake, a contemporary dance troupe in New York City. In addition to his dancing career, he was an active member of Amnesty International. While at GS, Brian, a political science major, represented the academic interests of students as a member of the GS Committee on Instruction and currently serves on the General Studies Student Council as Senior Class President.

Issis Palomo is this year’s salutatorian. Born in Havana, Cuba, she came to the United States with her parents in 1992 as a political refugee. Prior to enrolling at GS, Issis attended Yale University. As a classics major at Columbia, she studied in Athens at the American School of Classical Studies on a scholarship from the American Philological Association.
Graduation Information
For more on graduation activities and ceremonies, see the Graduation section of the GS website.