New York University’s 175th Commencement will take place Thurs., May 10, 10:30 a.m. in Washington Square Park. Among this year’s graduates are students who have overcome personal hardship and have thrived during their years at NYU. Their biographical capsules are below.

Rayan Houdrouge is son of a Lebanese from the southern Lebanon village of Qana, which was the target of Israeli shelling in 1996 and 2006; Omer Granit is an Israeli who served with the Israeli Defense Force in southern Lebanon. The two began their studies at NYU’s School of Law during the most recent conflict between the two countries. While their backgrounds and personal experiences-the loss of family and friends during the fighting-would seemingly put them at odds, they became friends at NYU and are now in the process of establishing an initiative to promote peace between Israel and Lebanon that will include a event bringing together Arab and Israeli students for discussions.

Kevin Shenderov, a biochemistry major in NYU’s College of Arts and Science, and his family left Ukraine in 1990, relocating to Brooklyn after his older brother, Eugene, was diagnosed with leukemia as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant explosion. Kevin will attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar this year-following in the footsteps of Eugene, who made a full recovery and was also named a Rhodes Scholar two years ago, making them the first pair of brothers to win the scholarship since the early 1960s.

Jacqueline Murekatete, who graduates with a degree in political science from NYU’s College of Arts and Science, survived the 1994 Rwanda genocide. She regularly travels to schools across the country with Holocaust survivors, reminding people of the “strength of human spirit.” She attended NYU on a scholarship from Jerry Seinfeld Family Scholarship Foundation and is currently working on a book about her experiences.

Reporters interested in speaking with any of these graduates should contact James Devitt, NYU’s Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6808 or

Press Contact