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Jefferson Community College Holds 50th Commencement Ceremony

Jefferson Community College held its 50th annual commencement ceremony on Friday, May 16, 2014 in the McVean Gymnasium on campus.  In recognition of the College’s 50th commencement milestone, the Jefferson Community College Board of Trustees formally dedicated the 50th commencement ceremony to Jefferson’s first graduating class. Thirty-six students graduated on June 12, 1965 and were awarded an associate in applied science degree in business, an associate in applied science degree in engineering science or an associate in arts degree in liberal arts.  The College is honored that Class of 1965 member Anne Myers Eggleston, Theresa, was in attendance at the 50th commencement ceremony.

Jefferson’s class of 2014 is comprised of 678 students who graduated in December 2013 or are candidates for graduation in May or August of 2014 pending satisfactory completion of coursework. Twenty-one students will receive two degrees each, and one student will receive three, bringing the total number of degrees and/certificates awarded to 701.  It is anticipated that the Class of 2014 will be the largest graduating class in College history. The class includes the first graduates of Jefferson’s two new humanities and social sciences concentrations in literature and creative writing.

Nearly 48% of graduates are adult learners, aged 25 years or older.  Jefferson continues to be a strong educational partner of Fort Drum with nearly 41% of the Class of 2014 comprised of active duty soldiers and their family members, veterans, retirees or members of the Army Reserves.  Jefferson’s active duty and veteran students, along with faculty and staff veterans, were distinguished during the ceremony by the red, white and blue cords worn in recognition of their service to our country.

This year, in another special component of the evening’s ceremony, thirteen Keuka College students received their baccalaureate degrees from Roger Ambrose, social work advisor to Keuka College students.  These thirteen students, ten of which are Jefferson graduates, earned their bachelor of social work (B.S.W.) through Keuka’s accelerated studies for adults program, attending college one evening per week on Jefferson’s campus through Jefferson’s Higher Education Center initiative.  Of the ten Jefferson alumni receiving the B.S.W degree, seven earned their Human Services A.S. degree from Jefferson.   Additionally, a SUNY Cobleskill student who has earned a bachelor of science in early childhood studies by taking classes through Jefferson’s Higher Education Center also took part in Jefferson’s commencement ceremony and received her diploma from Dr. Sandra Malcom, professor of early childhood, SUNY Cobleskill.

The College is privileged that distinguished alumnus and professor emeritus Richard F. Young, class of 1968, delivered the keynote address to graduates.   Mr. Young, a member of Jefferson’s 4th graduating class, retired from Jefferson in 2012 after 41 years of service to the College.  In addition to his associate in arts degree in liberal arts from Jefferson, Mr. Young holds a bachelor of arts in liberal arts-speech from SUNY Geneseo and a master of arts from the University of Oregon.

Mr. Young holds the distinction of Jefferson’s longest serving member of the campus community.  During his four-decade tenure, primarily as a professor of speech communication,  Young taught thousands of students, chaired or served on hundreds of committees, provided thoughtful guidance to colleagues and mentored new faculty, and did so while demonstrating extraordinary commitment to the mission of Jefferson.  He served as president of the Faculty

Association for seven years, was a 25-year member of the Faculty Student Association, and a member of the JCC Foundation Board of Directors.  In 1978, he was recognized with the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and honored again in 2006 with the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service. Young is credited with assisting in the formation of the JCC Alumni Association, an organization in which he served as president for eight years.   In 1989, he received Jefferson’s inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award and was named to the SUNY Alumni Honor Roll in 1994.

The student commencement speaker was Monica L. Cronin of Evans Mills. Monica is graduating with an associate in applied science degree in hospitality and tourism with a concentration in culinary arts.   Monica hails originally from New Jersey, but has also lived and worked in Springfield, IL and on the Big Island of Hawaii. She moved to Evans Mills in 2012 when her daughter and son-in-law were both deployed overseas as active duty military police in the U.S Army.   Monica decided to earn her college degree and enrolled at Jefferson Community College that summer – her first time as a full-time college student. Effectively balancing her college studies and home life, Monica has earned President’s List or Dean’s List honors nearly every semester at Jefferson.

Following the economic downturn of 2009, Monica found herself working in a small deli, creating sandwiches and doing some cooking and food preparation in her New Jersey neighborhood, a pleasant change from the corporate positions she held previously.  After a lifetime of cooking for pleasure, she found herself energized by cooking commercially and loves to make other people happy by providing good food.  Her passion is for local and organic products and Northern New York has provided a vast palette of local foods to work with in her culinary classes at Jefferson and at home.

Monica has interned and worked at The Clipper Inn, Clayton, and is currently working at the Hilton Garden Inn of Watertown as a cook.  She is a former volunteer board member of the North Country Children’s Clinic and looks forward to continuing her volunteer work in the community after graduation.

During the ceremony, President Carole A. McCoy and Michael W. Crowley, chair of the Board of Trustees, presented the Jefferson Citation to the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO). Denise K. Young, executive director, accepted the award on behalf of the FDRHPO.

The Jefferson Citation was established by the Jefferson Community College Board of Trustees to “recognize an individual or organization whose leadership and actions have demonstrated outstanding commitment to education and the vision and mission of Jefferson Community College.”    The FDRHPO was established in 2006 with a goal of first analyzing and then strengthening the North Country healthcare system for Fort Drum soldiers, their families and the surrounding civilian community. Toward that end, the FDRHPO has enhanced available healthcare resources for the Fort Drum community through collaboration and partnerships with regional healthcare and community organizations and educational institutions including Jefferson Community College. 

Several students, faculty and staff were recognized with academic awards and honors during the commencement exercises.

Two candidates for graduation were recognized for receiving the State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence earlier this year. This award acknowledges students who have best demonstrated the integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives: community service, athletics, creative and performing arts, leadership and career achievement. In April, Kate S. Gehrke, Belleville, and Juliann R. Schindler, Dexter, were chosen by SUNY for the 2014 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.  Ms. Gehrke is graduating with an associate in applied science (A.A.S.) degree in business administration and Ms. Schindler is graduating with an associate in applied science (A.A.S.) in hospitality and tourism with a concentration in hotel/restaurant management.   Additionally, Chadd W. Call, Watertown, was recognized for receiving the SUNY Chancellor’s Scholar Athlete Award given to a student for academic excellence and athletic achievement.  Mr. Call is graduating with an associate of science (A.S.) degree in sports management.

Laura D. DeNardo, Watertown, and Brenda K. Yerdon, Lacona, Watertown, were recognized as members of the All-New York Academic Team for Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the national honor society for community colleges.  To be chosen for the All-New York academic team, students must have a grade point average of at least 3.25 and have a history of scholarly achievement and outstanding service to campus or community.  Additionally, Ms. DeNardo was recognized as a New Century Scholar, the highest ranking PTK student in New York State, and as one of only 20 students nationwide named to the All-USA Community College Academic Team for Phi Theta Kappa.  Laura is graduating with an associate in applied science (A.A.S.) degree in nursing and Brenda is graduating with two degrees, an associate in applied science (A.A.S.) degree in chemical dependency and an associate in science (.A.S.) degree in human services.

The Jefferson Community College Honors Program offers students with exceptional academic skills the opportunity to receive enriched instruction and six graduating students have completed this program. Honors program students elect three courses and enhance them as Honors Options by choosing a project for each and working directly with a faculty member to provide a unique and rewarding educational experience.  Class of 2014 members graduating with Honors Program designation are:  Song Hwa Choi, Evans Mills, associate in science (A.S.) degree in physical education; Amanda Lynn DeFoe, Adams, associate in applied science (A.A.S.) degree in nursing; Laura D. DeNardo, Watertown, associate in applied science (A.A.S.) degree in nursing; Matthew Charles Ellis, Philadelphia, associate in science (A.S.) degree in mathematics and science; Jason Douglas James Hardie, Watertown, associate in science (A.S.) degree in criminal justice; and Cheyenne Elizabeth Rhone, Clayton, associate in science (A.S.) degree in human services.

Additionally, five members of Jefferson’s faculty/staff were recognized as recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence.  The Chancellor’s Awards recognize extraordinary achievement and encourage the continuation of excellence.  Timothy J. Abel, adjunct instructor of anthropology received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching; Donald R. Johnson, director of military programs received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service; Heather N. O’Brien, associate professor of mathematics, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching; John F. Penrose, professor of chemistry, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service; and Rachael L. Riordan, typist in the athletics/physical education department, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service. Chancellor’s Award honorees received their medallions at the College’s Recognition Ceremony held on May 2.