Advanced degrees bestowed at 2015 SUNY New Paltz Graduate Commencement

20150515-3_Graduate Commencement_0034

More than 200 students representing the classes of August 2014, December 2014, May 2015 and August 2015 proudly donned caps and gowns to walk the stage at the SUNY New Paltz Graduate Commencement Ceremony on May 15.

[Click here to view complete gallery and download photos]

College faculty and staff were joined by the friends and loved ones of outgoing graduate students at this year’s ceremony, which was for every graduate the culmination of years of dedication and hard work. A total of 516 graduate degrees were conferred.

The occasion was presided over by College President Donald P. Christian and a stage party consisting of academic deans, faculty members, college administrators and College Council members. SUNY New Paltz Foundation Board members were also on-hand to witness to the presentation of degrees.

“This evening, our College community, led by our faculty, gathers to recognize and salute our latest graduates,” said President Christian in his opening remarks. “This ceremony is designed to celebrate the special accomplishment of obtaining an advanced degree. It’s a centuries-old tradition to formally and joyfully acknowledge the close of one chapter of our students’ lives and the beginning of the next.”

Commencement Grand Marshal Jan Schmidt, professor in the Department of English and director of the Creative Writing Program, led the processional to the stage bearing the traditional mace representing the five academic schools at New Paltz and the Graduate School.

Philip Mauceri, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, addressed the graduates directly about the programs they have completed and the opportunities the future holds for them.

“Today is a day to celebrate all that you have achieved. You will enter your fields well-prepared by the graduate education you received here at SUNY New Paltz, which has been offering graduate programs for over 65 years. You leave New Paltz with a graduate education that arms you to change the world.”

Laurel M. Garrick Duhaney, associate provost for Academic Affairs and dean of the Graduate School, spoke to the diversity of graduate-level academic programming offered by the five schools at the College.

“Our programs in Education prepare many of the region’s teachers and school administrators, and our faculty in Liberal Arts & Sciences help educate those future educators in the subject matter they will teach. Our Business School fills local demand for strategic managers and accountants. Our School of Science & Engineering provides the Hudson Valley with creative electrical and computer engineers and computer scientists. Ulster County is known for its extensive arts community, and our School of Fine & Performing Arts serves as a magnet for existing artists, art patrons and students who aspire to create.”

The ceremony also saw the signing of the “Star Spangled Banner” and the SUNY New Paltz Alma Mater by Julie Salvas ’15 (Music – Classical Performance), who later joined her fellows in the Class of 2015 at the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony, May 17.

A number of degree recipients took time to reflect on their experience in New Paltz graduate programs.

“I had originally transferred here from another university as an undergraduate, and I felt I learned more in my first class here than I’d learned in two years at the other school. I attribute that to the quality of the professors we have here. I think the graduate program was even more enriching than I expected after doing my undergrad. It was a really wonderful experience, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.” – Shannon Calderon ’15g (Literacy Education: B-6), who also works for the College as a complex director in the Department of Residence Life.

“My program offered opportunities for learning about the profession and for developing a professional and an individual identity.” – Andrew Blizard ’15g (Mental Health Counseling)

“We made really good friends, and we got each other through. It was like a family – we couldn’t have done it without that support system.” – Sara Touri ’15g (Visual Arts Education– Interdisciplinary) & Fawn Johnson ’15g (Visual Arts Education – Interdisciplinary)

“My experience here was wonderful. If I had another chance I would choose to come here again.” – Bingqi Zhang ’15g (Electrical Engineering)

“I had heard that New Paltz had an excellent literacy program, and while it was challenging, I feel as if I’m now a better teacher because of it. I would definitely recommend this program to other people.” – Michelle Sasso ’15g (Literacy Education: B-6)

“I loved my undergraduate experience at New Paltz, and I figured there was no better place than to just keep going here.” – Francisco Alvarenga ’15g (Adolescence Education: English)

Complete coverage of SUNY New Paltz Commencement activities is available at