July 23, 2015

Edward Shevlin III Earned a Bachelor of Arts in Historical Studies, with a Concentration in Irish and Irish American Studies

Edward Shevlin III, seen here with his wife Mary Ellen, was selected as a student speaker for the college's 2015 commencement ceremony held on Long Island

Edward Shevlin III, seen here with his wife, Mary Ellen, was selected as a student speaker for the 2015 commencement ceremony on Long Island. Photo/Empire State College

Edward Shevlin III earned a Bachelor of Arts in Historical Studies, with a concentration in Irish and Irish American Studies.

He earned an associate degree from the college in 2011.

Shevlin, 54, was selected as one of the student speakers for the 2015 commencement ceremony held on Long Island, and he is a 2015 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, SUNY’s most prestigious student honor.

“I must say that it is one of the greatest honors of my life to stand here today as a member of the graduating class of 2015,” said Shevlin. “I am sure that you will agree, and it must be said, that the path to graduation has not always been an easy one.  Many of us have juggled family responsibilities, careers and all of life’s ups and downs in order to be here today as graduates.”

A 22-year employee with the New York City Department of Sanitation, Shevlin may be the only employee of the department who speaks the Irish language.

“As a New York City sanitation worker, things like the daily burden of personally picking up five to 10 tons of garbage each day made studying rather tough in the evenings,” said Shevlin. “Winter blizzards, which necessitated around-the-clock plowing, made it difficult to even think of my education. Hurricane Sandy, with its incredible destructive power, actually claimed my car, taking it away on the outgoing tide along with a load of books, as I watched in awe.”

As part of his commencement remarks, Shevlin said that he is a high-school dropout and an alcoholic. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, he said he experienced an epiphany and began his sober life Oct. 20, 2001, and went on to earn his GED.

“The rest, as they say, is history,” said Shevlin. “Five years after committing to a sober life, I enrolled with SUNY Empire State College as an undergraduate. I changed from a high-school dropout into a man of letters. I have been richly rewarded for my work in academia with two Irish language summer study awards from the Fulbright commission, the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence and the opportunity to stand before you and represent my class as a student speaker.”

He is a 2013 and 2011 recipient of a grant from the Fulbright Commission in Ireland’s Gaeltacht Summer Language Study program to study the Irish language in Ireland.

Recently, the New York Daily News, Newsday, WCBS-TV and many others, reported on how Shevlin has rescued more than 700 American flags from the garbage in order to provide them with the respectful disposal he says they deserve.

He is the 2012 recipient of the New York City Council’s Thomas Manton Irish Man of the Year Award.

Shevlin also was profiled in 2011 by The New York Times and the Daily News for receiving his first Fulbright Commission for Summer Language Study grant.

The commission in Ireland is a part of the Fulbright Program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Set up by Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946, The Fulbright Program is the largest U.S. international exchange program in the world. It offers opportunities for students, scholars and professionals to undertake postgraduate study, research and teaching in 155 countries worldwide.

Shevlin and his wife, Mary Ellen, a special education teacher in Bayonne, N.J., were married March 21, 2015, and honeymooned in Ireland.

They live in Rockaway Park, Queens.

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