Kirsten Luce for The New York Times. Gladys Veronica Juca, an illegal immigrant from Ecuador, at graduation on Friday from Queensborough Community College. Among its 1,627 graduates are a 70-year-old grandmother and a young man with cerebral palsy who got a standing ovation when he received his diploma at the commencement ceremony on Friday.

More than a rite of passage, graduation offered a chance at a promising new beginning for most of them — but not all.

Gladys Veronica Juca was the student government president and earned a 3.6 grade point average. She is also an illegal immigrant, one of several such graduates who walked away into a future with uncertain job options and limited options of government aid to continue their schooling.

“Sometimes I ask myself, you have a diploma, now what?” said Ms. Juca, 20, her auburn hair cascading over her shiny black gown.

Queensborough Community College has about 15,000 students from 140 countries. The graduates on Friday — a multinational cast with surnames like Baptiste, Chang, Garzón, Kumar and Mohamed — speak 58 languages and include many who are the first in their family to receive a higher-education degree.

Eduardo J. Martí, Queensborough’s president, calls it “an academic Ellis Island,” a place that is open to all, where immigration status means nothing.