Hundreds of members of the SUNY New Paltz Classes of 2018 and 2019 gathered with faculty mentors, family and friends and celebrated the completion of their undergraduate careers at the Saturday Commencement Ceremony on May 18.
“We recognize the achievement of these students, who have completed the hard academic work of earning a degree,” said President Donald P. Christian. “We recognize our graduates’ families and friends, whose support made their education possible. We recognize faculty for their dedication in sharing knowledge, guiding and motivating students in their intellectual pursuits, and contributing to the growth of knowledge and human understanding.”
This first of two undergraduate Commencement ceremonies honored students who completed programs in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the largest single academic unit at SUNY New Paltz, which includes 18 departments offering 21 major programs, and many more contract majors and interdisciplinary minors.
The Commencement Address at the Saturday Ceremony was given by Jane Delgado ’73 (Psychology), who also accepted an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from the State University of New York during the ceremony. SUNY Board of Trustee Member Eunice Lewin presented the honorary degree.
Delgado is among the most accomplished alumni of SUNY New Paltz: a health care advocate, researcher, author and clinical psychologist, widely recognized and admired in her field for her leadership in the movement to improve health outcomes and quality of life for members of underserved populations.
She advised those in the audience to envision ways of applying their passion, talent and knowledge to change the world for the better, as they prepare to embark on a new chapter of their lives.
“Your time is now, and the world is waiting for you,” Delgado said. “What we do, how we live, and how we love are determined by the values that are important to us. We all need to find that steering wheel within ourselves that will guide us to make the right choices, so we can make a positive difference. May you have safe passage and the finest steering wheel to guide you on your path.”
Salutatorian Reuben Slater ’19 (History; Anthropology) provided the student address, reflecting ideas about how a collegiate career can affect everything that comes after.
“At SUNY New Paltz, every day is a chance to learn something new, try something new, and truly explore the horizons before you. As students, we brought with us all of our unique histories, contributed to our communities in independent ways, and gathered here today with a multitude of lessons learned. We are a community who supported and brought out the best in each other, and we will carry these experiences with us forever.”
Lorenna Simoes ’19 (International Relations) of Middletown, New York, took a moment before walking the stage to think about experiences she’ll carry on, and why they matter.
“I did a study abroad at a school in Brazil that focused on international relations, and that whole program was awesome” Simoes said. “I’m so happy today! I have people coming from Jersey, my family from up here and my dad came from Brazil, so I’m really excited.”
Sasha Garcia ’18 (Geography) of Water Mill, New York, officially completed her undergrad career in December, but she came back for the ceremony to celebrate with family and friends.
“My twin sister is graduating today with Education and Asian Studies, so part of the reason I came back was to walk with her,” Garcia said. “But also I just really like New Paltz. I wanted to do this so I could see my teachers again, see a bunch of my friends and have my mom, my dad and my grandma see me get my diploma.”
The 2019 Saturday Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony was presided over by a stage party including academic deans, faculty members, the Student Association president, administrators, and College Council members.
The processional was led by Faculty Grand Marshal Ilgu Ozler, associate professor of political science and international relations and director of the SUNY Global Engagement Program in New York City. Ozler has committed considerable time and energy to expanding international opportunities for students since joining the College in 2006. She was a 2018 SUNY Chancellor’s Award recipient for Excellence in Faculty Service.
This ceremony was part of a weekend-long celebration of New Paltz students’ academic achievement, as more than 2,600 graduate and undergraduate degree recipients representing the graduating classes of August 2018, December 2018 and January 2019, and candidates for May 2019 and August 2019, were honored at ceremonies held on May 17, 18 and 19.
Complete coverage of SUNY New Paltz Commencement activities is available at https://sites.newpaltz.edu/news/category/commencement/.