Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients


The following are recipients of the 2018 Nyack College
honorary Doctor of Divinity degree who will also be
inducted into the President’s Hall of Distinction
on Commencement Day.

Julio Aponte Acosta
Karen A. Bernard
Tzuo Yan (T.Y.) Lee

Julio Aponte Acosta

Julio Aponte Acosta has served as the executive director of Seminario Teológico de Puerto Rico (STPR), Nyack’s extension site of Alliance Theological Seminary in San Juan since 2002. Prior to assuming leadership of STPR in an official capacity, Dr. Aponte volunteered his time to develop the Seminary beginning in 1990. Nearly three decades later, and persevering through the aftermath of two devastating hurricanes—Irma and Maria—in 2017, he continues to shepherd this campus and the surrounding community, which includes more than 30 denominations, councils and independent churches on the Island.

Dr. Aponte’s gift for leading began before his involvement in Christian higher education, when he first responded to God’s call on his life in 1976 to plant a Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) church in Carolina, Puerto Rico. His 42-year career in ministry includes his service as a pastor, church planter and conference speaker for Hispanic leaders. He has also provided leadership as a consultant in administration, strategic planning and church growth.

In February 2018, Dr. Aponte completed his service on the Board of Directors of the Alliance Development Fund in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is also a former member of the United States Alliance Board of Directors.

Dr. Aponte earned a Master of Arts in Religion at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico and a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Puerto Rico. Trinity College of Florida presented him with an honorary Doctor of Divinity.

Dr. Aponte has been married to María Elena Rodríguez since 1972. They are the parents of two children, Javier and Mariel, and the grandparents of two beautiful grandchildren, Chris and Fabiola.

Karen A. Bernard

Karen Bernard left her job in the Queens County Court System in 1979 to join her husband, Rev. Dr. A.R. Bernard, Sr., as co-founder of a modest Christian fellowship that today is Christian Cultural Center (CCC), a more than 37,000-member ministry in the East New York/Canarsie sections of Brooklyn. In addition to her pastoral role, she is currently vice president of the CCC Board of Directors. As Director of Quality Control, Mrs. Bernard established and monitored the interview process to maintain a standard of excellence for all ministry representatives, including a staff of over 1,200.

Mrs. Bernard’s love for children fueled the vision for Brooklyn Preparatory School (BPS), which educates three to six-year-olds. Since its launch in 1993, BPS has offered a holistic education— nurturing its students to learn, grow and develop their true selves as revealed in Christ—academically, cognitively, emotionally and spiritually. With Mrs. Bernard’s support in the areas of staff development, curriculum and other services, school administrators have seen the students flourish. Graduates of BPS have consistently ranked nationally within the top 10% in reading and the top 5% in mathematics on the Stanford Achievement Tests.

She and Rev. Bernard are also co-founders of Cultural Arts Academy Charter School in Brooklyn, which was established in February 2010 as a comprehensive educational alternative that provides a pacesetting K-12 college preparatory arts education to promote superior scholarship and strong cultural arts proficiency.

The International Christian Sisterhood (ICS) is a ministry founded by Mrs. Bernard to address the interests and needs of women. In addition to hosting guest speakers, she has coordinated special events to educate women about health, finances, legal rights and personal development. Church ministry is a calling, but what Karen Bernard treasures most is being a wife, mother and grandmother. In her more than four decades of marriage to A.R. Bernard, she is devoted to being his chief intercessor and best friend. She has raised seven sons and now gets even greater joy from spending time with her grandchildren.

Tzuo Yan (T.Y.) Lee

Tzuo-Yan (T.Y.) Lee was born in China and raised in Taiwan. After completing his college education there, in 1967 he came to the United States to pursue his graduate studies and earned his doctorate in biostatistics at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Lee worked at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, the prestigious non-profit organization devoted to clinical practice, education and research. He was employed as a biostatistician at Merck; as an assistant director at Hoechst-Roussel and as a vice president of biostatistics and programming at Ayerst Laboratories. He began his own pharmaceutical consulting company in 1988 with offices in the U.S., Beijing and Taipei. In 1997, Ernst & Young, LLP named him an “Entrepreneur of the Year” finalist.

At the pinnacle of his career, God placed a desire in his heart to sell his company and embark on a journey as a servant leader. As an obedient and wise steward of his resources, he established a foundation for his philanthropic generosity to Nyack College and charitable organizations.

Dr. Lee has always had a burden to share his expertise and extensive career experiences as well as his biblical perspective of work. Today his book, “From 1/3 to 1/2+: Cultivating Your Personal Brand at Work,” which was published in Mandarin Chinese and in English, is enlightening readers around the globe. An endorsement quote for the book best summarizes the content of Dr. Lee’s character: “His focus is on God. His family centers on God. His career and business are God-honoring.”

Loyal to his faith community, he has served as an elder and also taught Sunday school classes at the Chinese Christian Church of New Jersey. With that same devotion, Dr. Lee has been a member of the Nyack College/Alliance Theological Seminary Board of Trustees since 2002.

Dr. Lee resides in New Jersey with his wife, Jean. They are the parents of two sons and one daughter and the grandparents of eight grandchildren.