The event was hosted by award-winning 1010 Wins radio reporter and Queens College alumna Juliet Papa, for the third consecutive time. Queens College President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez made the welcoming remarks.
Muriel Sapir Greenblatt
Mrs. Greenblatt (who graduated in 1954) has devoted decades to community service, especially helping the lives of the elderly. She received the coveted “Alumni Award.” “I am thrilled to be here tonight,” she said. “It’s really unbelievable and mind-boggling to me to be receiving this honor. I am humbled by it.”
“My parents were immigrants and I’m a first-generation graduate in the United States. I see many students that are first-generation here, and they honored our class, at our 50th anniversary graduation, since I believe that they understood how difficult it was for kids to make it through Queens as first-generation,” she said. “Queens College gave a high-quality education.”
Evelyn M. Strauch
Foreign language educator and community revitalization activist, Ms. Evelyn M. Strauch, from the class of 1960, earned the prestigious “President’s Award.” “It feels terrific,” she said. “I’m deeply touched and it’s an extreme honor. I love the background that Queens College gave me. They taught us how to think critically, to get interested in music, art and philosophy, and to be prepared for our vocations. I am totally humbled by this honor. Queens meant a lot to me, since I’m an immigrant myself.”
“To many, many more years. You’ve had 80 years, Queens College, and I hope you have many more, providing a first-class education,” Ms. Strauch concluded, about the college’s 80-year anniversary.
Finally, Emmy nominated-actress, author and advocate for cancer awareness Fran Drescher (“The Nanny”) was bestowed the Queens College “Lifetime Achievement Award.” She received this award by Professor Charles Repole of the Queens College Drama Department, a former Tony nominee (Very Good Eddie, 1976)
“How sweet. What a warm welcome,” Drescher said, following the standing ovation she received from the Queens College GALA attendees. “This is a warm, terrific group. So many people sound like me. I feel at home.”
A native of Queens, Drescher opened up about her life story, which consisted of many trials and tribulations. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” she said, prior to noting that “life has been her greatest teacher.” She also shared an inspirational quote from Eleanor Roosevelt. “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”
The acclaimed comedian and actress noted that she always was a “gay icon” for her fans, but when her ex-husband came out, she was elevated to “Judy Garland” status.
She was proud of the fact that she was named by The Washingtonian as one of the “Top 5 Most Effective celebrity lobbyists in Washington, D.C.” along with Bono, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. “Frannie D,” as she affectionately dubbed herself in this instance, noted that any taxpayer could be a lobbyist, and her passion is cancer-awareness legislation.
She founded the Cancer Schmancer movement, for which she serves as president, whose mission is to end cancer mortality due to late stage diagnosis by preventing it from occurring. “We are completely different in our approach. We empower you,” she said, about Cancer Schmancer. “It’s turning pain into purpose.”
Overall, Ms. Drecher’s acceptance speech was warm, genuine, thought-provoking, and compelling. To learn more about Drescher’s Cancer Schmancer, check out its official homepage.
Queens College GALA
The GALA is the Queens College’s primary fundraiser, where it raises over $1 million in scholarship funds for a diverse body of students that represents more than 150 nations (and over 90 languages spoken). Queens College students play a role in the GALA as performers, artists, and guest liaisons, thus giving them the privileged opportunity to interact with the honorees and other alumni in attendance.
To learn more about Queens College, visit its official homepage.