Musician John Zorn, Disability Activist SinEad Burke, and Poet and Writer Erika SAnchez Named Honorary Degree Recipients by The New School

New School Interim President Donna E. Shalala will Preside Over the University's 88th Commencement Exercises on Friday, May 17 at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Queens

NEW YORK, April 15, 2024 — The experimental composer and musician John Zorn; New York Times bestselling novelist, poet, and essayist Erika Sánchez; and disability activist, design advocate, writer, and scholar Sinéad Burke will receive honorary degrees during The New School’s 88th commencement exercises on Friday, May 17, 2024. 
New School Interim President Donna E. Shalala will preside over the ceremony which will take place at the Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens. 
Burke will deliver the keynote address during the undergraduate degree ceremony at 10:00 am, and Zorn and Sánchez will deliver remarks at the graduate degree ceremony beginning at 2:30 pm. The New School’s Class of 2024 is made up of more than 3,000 associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral graduates in art and design, the social sciences, the humanities, management, and the performing arts.
“It is with immense excitement that we celebrate the extraordinary achievements of our newest graduates, who I know will carry forward the university’s commitment to making the world a better designed and more just place,” said Donna E. Shalala, Interim President. “We are also thrilled to present honorary degrees to Sinéad Burke, Erika Sánchez, and John Zorn—inspiring individuals who exemplify creative excellence, transformational achievement, and fearless commitment.”

Sinéad Burke
Sinéad Burke is founder and CEO of Tilting the Lens, a consultancy founded in 2020 with the ambition to create equitable and systemic change through the lever of accessibility. With an all-disabled team based across Belfast, Berlin, Glasgow, London, and Trim, they craft solutions with Disabled people to build an accessible and equitable world. The organization was established on the pillars of education, advocacy, and design, partnering and guiding brands in their move from awareness to action to support their employees, customers, and stakeholders to thrive. Most recently, Tilting the Lens worked with the Public Appointments Service, engaging with representatives of over 100 organizations across the Irish civil and public services to co-design a framework for reasonable accommodations in the assignment and onboarding of disabled applicants across the public and civil services. Over the last four years, Sinéad has been a member of President Michael D. Higgins’ Council of State, hosted the podcast As Me with Sinéad Burke for Lemonada Media, and published a best-selling and award-winning book for children, Break the Mould.  

Erika L. Sánchez
Erika L. Sánchez is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her debut poetry collection, Lessons on Expulsion, was a finalist for the PEN America Open Book Award. Her debut young adult novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was a #1 New York Times bestseller, a National Book Awards finalist, and Tomás Rivera Award winner. Time has recognized it as one of the best YA novels of all time, and it is now being made into a MGM Orion film directed by America Ferrera. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter has also been adapted to the theater at Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, Seattle Rep Theater, and Greenway Court Theater in Los Angeles. Most recently, Sánchez published a critically acclaimed memoir-in-essays titled Crying in the Bathroom with Viking Books. It won the Chicago Review of Books nonfiction award and has been optioned for television. Sánchez was a Fulbright Scholar, a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent fellow from the Poetry Foundation, a Princeton Arts Fellow, a recipient of the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation, and a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry.

John Zorn
Drawing upon his experience in classical, jazz, rock, hardcore punk, klezmer, film, cartoon, popular, world and improvised music, John Zorn has created a controversial and influential body of work that often defies academic categories. Born in 1953 and raised in New York City, Zorn has been a central figure in the Downtown Scene since 1975, incorporating a wide variety of creative musicians into various compositional formats. He has composed 8 string quartets, vocal music, chamber music, operas, symphonic and dance works, has released over 200 cds under his own name, has led and written music for dozens of bands; scored over 50 films, and written over 600 tunes for his popular Masada project and 300 for his book of Bagatelles. His work is diverse and remarkably eclectic, drawing inspiration from Art, Literature, Film, Theatre, Philosophy, Alchemy and Mysticism as well as Music. In addition to his composing, recording and performing Zorn is a firm believer in community and a tireless champion of experimental music, film, art, poetry and theatre, organizing festivals, recordings and concerts, and helping to establish venues and opportunities for performance. He founded the Tzadik label in 1995; runs the East Village performance space The Stone; and has edited and published ten volumes of musician’s writings under the title ARCANA. 

Cece Deming-Bernstein, BA Politics; BFA, Integrated Design
Cece Deming-Bernstein is graduating with a dual degree: BA in Politics from Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts and a BFA in Integrated Design from Parsons School of Design. Originally from Los Angeles, Cece uses her political knowledge to inform her artistic works and multidisciplinary artistic practice to contextualize and make accessible her political writings. Cece utilizes a collaborative, practice-based approach, centering story to communicate complex issues, engage with different perspectives, and intentionally break down categories and artificial borders.

Tuerhong Guliniali, MFA Design and Technology
Tuerhong Guliniali is graduating from Parsons School of Design with an MFA in Design and Technology. She is a Uyghur Chinese designer, researcher, and radio host from Urumqi, Xinjiang, China, who applies her critical media studies research interest into the intersection of design and technology. Tuerhong’s design research focuses on technology & machine learning, race as technology, and poetic storytelling in understanding reclamation of self within and beyond digital media.

Founded in 1919, The New School was established to advance academic freedom, tolerance, and experimentation. A century later, The New School remains at the forefront of innovation in higher education, inspiring more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students to challenge the status quo in design and the social sciences, liberal arts, management, the arts, and media. The university welcomes thousands of adult learners annually for continuing education courses and public programs that encourage open discourse and social engagement. Through our online learning portals, research institutes, and international partnerships, The New School maintains a global presence.


79 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10003


Media Contacts:

Merrie Snead,
The New School

[email protected]

Follow @TheNewSchool 

Bookmark and Share