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Lucy Liu


Arts & Entertainment

Lucy Liu ’86 is an actor. She was nominated for an Emmy and a SAG Award for her work on Ally McBeal, and has starred in such successful films as Charlie’s Angels, Kill Bill, Chicago, and Kung-Fu Panda. She currently co-stars as Joan Watson on the hit series Elementary.


Denny Chin

United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals


Hon. Denny Chin ’71 is a United States Circuit Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He was sworn in on April 26, 2010.

From September 13, 1994, through April 23, 2010, Denny served as a United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. He presided over both civil and criminal cases including the trial of an Afghan warlord charged with conspiring to import heroin and the guilty plea and sentencing of financier Bernard L. Madoff.

Denny graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1971, from Princeton University magna cum laude in 1975, and Fordham Law School in 1978. He was born in Hong Kong. Denny was the first Asian American appointed a United States District Judge outside the Ninth Circuit.

The following is excerpted from Judge Chin’s address to the Stuyvesant High School Class of 2019 at their commencement ceremony on June 26, 2019.

“My grandfather was born in China in 1896. He came to the United States he was 20 years old, illegally because of Chinese exclusion laws. He returned to China only twice–once in the 1920s when he got married, and once in the 1930s when my father was born–and both times he had to leave his family behind in China when he returned to the United States because of the immigration laws. He could not bring his wife or his son to this country, but he could better support them here in America, working as a waiter in Chinese restaurants. He shared a railroad apartment in Chinatown in New York with other Chinese men, and every month, like them, he would buy a money order from the Post Office and send it home to his family in China.

“In 1947, my grandfather became an American citizen. The ceremony was held, I believe, in my courthouse, where I now have his naturalization certificate hanging on the wall in my chambers. By becoming a citizen, my grandfather was able to bring his family here, including me, after the immigration laws were reformed. By then, my father was a young man in Hong Kong with a family of his own, and my parents’ original Chinese passports show that we entered as political refugees.

“After we arrived in New York, my parents worked hard to raise five kids. My mother was a seamstress in garment factories in Chinatown, and my father was a cook in Chinese restaurants. In 1965 my parents were naturalized, and thus I became an American citizen as well.

“My parents spoke no English, but they knew the importance of education and hard work, and so we did okay. When I became a judge, I was given this privilege of performing the naturalization ceremony myself, swearing in new American citizens, and each time I did that, I told the new citizens about my grandfather. I showed them my grandfather’s naturalization certificate, which I would take off the wall, frame and all, and each time I showed it to them, I thought about my grandfather, of how hard he worked for so many years waiting on tables, of how he became a citizen in 1947, of how he brought my parents to this country, of how they became citizens, and how I, the son of a seamstress and a cook, the grandson of a Chinese waiter, became a federal judge.

All of you have someone like my grandfather in your family, and I know that I would not be here today, that I would not have presided over these cases, that I would not now be a federal judge, if my grandfather, my parents, and others like them had not let the way for me, had they not overcome so many barriers. When I was your age, when my grandfather was alive, I did not think of him as a hero. After all, I thought, he was just a Chinese waiter. It was only later that I came to appreciate all he did, and it was only later that I came to understand how much of a hero that he really was, as he traveled to a strange country at the age of 20 with no money, speaking no English, and had to work so hard, day in and day out, to make a better life for his family.”


Eric Holder

Attorney General of the United States


Eric Holder, Esq ’69 is the 82nd Attorney General of the United States, and the first African-American to hold that position. Prior to being appointed, he served as a Judge in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and as US Attorney.


Eric Lander

Founding Director, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard


Eric Lander, PhD ’74 was the founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard who has devoted his career to realizing the promise of the human genome for medicine. Rhodes scholar and MacArthur Fellow.


James Cagney

Academy Award-Winning Actor

Arts & Entertainment

James Cagney ’18 was a celebrated star of stage and screen, known for his roles in the classic gangster films The Public Enemy and White Heat. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for playing George M. Cohan in the biopic Yankee Doodle Dandy.


Joshua Lederberg

Nobel Prize–Winning Biologist


Joshua Lederberg, PhD ’41, ForMemRS, was an American molecular biologist known for his work in microbial genetics, artificial intelligence, and his pioneering work with Carl Sagan on exobiology for NASA. He graduated Stuyvesant at 15, and was just 33 years old when he won the 1958 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for proving that bacteria can exchange genetic material.


Tim Robbins

Actor & Director

Arts & Entertainment

Tim Robbins ’76 is an actor and director. He has starred in such critically acclaimed films as Bull Durham, Robert Altman’s The Player, and The Shawshank Redemption. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River.


Paul Levitz

Former President & Publisher, DC Comics

Arts & Entertainment

Paul Levitz SHS ’73, is a comic fan (The Comic Reader), editor (Batman among many titles), writer (Legion of Super-Heroes, Worlds’ Finest, and many others (including four NY Times Graphic Books Best Sellers), executive (30 years at DC, ending as President & Publisher), historian (75 Years of DC Comics: The Art Of Modern Myth-Making (Taschen, 2010)) and educator (including the American Graphic Novel at Columbia). He won two consecutive annual Comic Art Fan Awards for Best Fanzine, received Comic-con International’s Inkpot Award, the prestigious Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award, the Comics Industry Appreciation Award from ComicsPro and the Dick Giordano Humanitarian Award from the Hero Initiative. His Taschen book won the Eisner Award, the Eagle Award and Munich’s Peng Pris, and is being released in revised form as five volumes in 2013-5. He is currently working on a book on Will Eisner and the birth of the graphic novel for Abrams Comic Arts. Levitz also serves on the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Proof: Media for Social Justice, and Boom! Studios.


Eva Moskowitz

Founder & CEO, Success Academy Charter Schools


Eva Moskowitz ’82 is the founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, a network of 32 high-performing schools serving more than 9,000 students in New York City. Recognized nationally as a leader of education reform, she served on the New York Council and chaired the Education Committee prior to founding Success Academy in 2006. She holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD from Johns Hopkins University, and taught history at the University of Virginia, Vanderbilt University, and CUNY College of Staten Island.


Paul Reiser

Actor, Mad About You

Arts & Entertainment

Paul Reiser ’75, is an American comedian, actor, television personality, author, screenwriter and musician. He is most widely known for his role on the long-running television sitcom Mad About You.


Grace Meng

Congresswoman, US House of Representatives


Grace Meng ’93 is the Congresswoman representing New York’s 6th congressional district in the US House of Representatives. Prior to this appointment she served as a member of the New York State Assembly representing the 22nd assembly district. She holds a BA from the University of Michigan and a JD from Yeshiva University.


Richard Axel

Nobel Prize–Winning Neuroscientist


Richard Axel ’63 is a neuroscientist whose work on the olfactory system won him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2004.