Hundreds of students representing the classes of August 2015, December 2015, May 2016 and August 2016 were presented with graduate degrees before an audience of loved ones and College faculty and staff at the SUNY New Paltz Graduate Commencement Ceremony on May 13. The event represented the culmination of years of committed scholarship and professionalism for the newest graduate alumni of the College.
“This evening, our College community, led by the faculty, gathers to recognize and salute our latest graduates,” said President Donald P. Christian. “It is a centuries-old tradition to formally and joyfully acknowledge the close of one chapter in our students’ lives and the beginning of the next. We salute your success in meeting and mastering all of the challenges you have encountered on your way to this proud and happy day. Each of these graduates is here today because of parents, spouses, siblings, children and other loved ones whose support made their education possible, and I ask that you all please join me in congratulating our new graduates!”
The occasion was presided over by a stage party including academic deans, faculty members, administrators and College Council and Foundation Board members.
Commencement Grand Marshal James Halpern, professor of psychology and director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health, led the processional to the stage bearing the traditional mace representing the five academic schools at New Paltz and the Graduate School. The service bore a special significance for Halpern, who recently announced his retirement after 43 years as a member of the New Paltz faculty.
The College conferred a total of 522 graduate degrees and certificates of advanced study in the arts, sciences, education and business for the 2015-16 academic year. The array of graduate-level academic programming available at New Paltz was the subject of remarks made by Laurel M. Garrick Duhaney, dean of the Graduate School and associate provost for Academic Affairs.
“Our programs in Education prepare many of the region’s teachers and school administrators, and our faculty in Liberal Arts & Sciences, Fine & Performing Arts and Science & Engineering help educate those future educators in the subject matter they will teach,” Garrick Duhaney said. “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. Our programs draw students from around the globe, and many have distinguished national and international reputations.”
The program also included the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” and the SUNY New Paltz Alma Mater by Krista Miller ’16 (Music Therapy), who later joined her classmates in being recognized at the Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony on May 15.
A number of degree recipients offered thoughts on their experience in New Paltz graduate programs.
“I’m always going to remember the friends I made from all the arts disciplines: sculpture, printmaking, metal, painting and drawing. I feel I’ve created a long-lasting artist community, and I’m so excited to share it with the rest of the world.” – Brooke Long (Painting & Drawing)
“I took an opportunity to work as a substitute teacher, and found that I was gravitating toward helping the kids who were struggling in class. Many of them tended to have language-based problems, which is exactly what the Communications Disorder major looks at. I knew nothing when I came here – I just wanted to help these kinds of kids, and this is the program that let me do it. This has been a bridge to a second career.” – Esther Yun (Communication Disorders)
“I’m surprised how fast this all happened. It’s actually real now – I’m finally going out into the world. But what got me through was the people that I met in the graduate program, people who showed me a lot more different perspectives and showed me more new ways of thinking than I experienced as an undergraduate.” – Christina Waterman (Business Administration)
“Today I’m feeling a mix of sadness and happiness. I came here from Germany for both my undergrad and my master’s, and now it’s off into the world. I really enjoyed the small school environment of New Paltz, which allowed me to get a lot out of my relationships with advisors.” – Catrin Jacobi (Adolescence Education: Social Studies)
“As an undergraduate I went to a pretty big school, and coming here I found I was able to work much more closely with the faculty. It was awesome to feel like my teacher-educators wanted to be partners in my education. They were all excellent.” – Jeremy Kermani (Adolescence Education: Biology)
“I’m feeling fantastic – ready to tackle the world and find some opportunities. I’ll remember the family-like environment amongst the MBA students, and everyone’s drive to get things done.” – Chris Mosco (Business Administration)