New Paltz graduates share their thoughts before walking the stage at Commencement 2023

In the moments before Commencement, you can feel the energy in the air: students’ excitement at walking the stage and transitioning into their next phase of life, families finding their seats and managing their emotions 

In the relatively quiet hours before Commencement exercises got underway in 2023, our team spoke with members of the Class of 2023. 

Here’s some of what they had to say about what New Paltz taught them, and their future plans: 

On fondest memories of New Paltz 

“New Paltz provided the kind of community that allowed me to explore my creative side. There’s a very interdisciplinary atmosphere here, with a lot of different departments collaborating with each other.” – Jacob Contzius ‘23 (Digital Media Production) of Mohegan Lake, New York 

“The classes I took at New Paltz gave me so many things to learn. It was a good experience for me to encounter the problems I’ll experience once I go into the medical field through my lab classes. Sometimes I never finished the assignment the way I wanted to, but it taught me as a scientist that it’s okay to fail, no matter the circumstances.” – Michael Ezeani ‘23 (Biology) of the Bronx, New York 

“New Paltz inspired me to be the best version of myself. My peers have helped me grow so much in these last four years.” – Lauren Ostendorf ‘23 (Business Marketing) of Victor, New York 

On what they would tell their freshmen selves 

“It’s okay to make mistakes. Mistakes don’t define you. It’s about how you bounce back and how you reinvent yourself.” – Jayson Andrews ’23 (Theatre Arts) of Brooklyn, New York 

“I would tell my freshman self to spend less time in the library, because you’re going to pass your classes, and have fun. Enjoy the ride because it only lasts for a short amount of time.” – Allison Fried ‘23 (Early Childhood & Childhood Education: English) of East Setauket, New York 

“Don’t leave your homework to the last second. You must do it when you get it.” – Veronica Valiente ’23g (Second Language Education) of Port Jervis, New York 

On what they’re looking forward to 

“I’m excited to be putting the skills I learned striving and grinding throughout my years here into action.” – Gary Jimenez ‘23 (Digital Media Production) of the Bronx, New York 

“After I get my master’s degree next year at New Paltz in English, I want to embark on a career path where I can read the world, write the world and make the world a better place.” – SUNY Chancellor’s Award winner Summer Mohrmann ‘23 (English) of New Paltz, New York 

“I’m excited to be a high school Earth science teacher next year. Thank you New Paltz for all that you have done for me these last five years.”- Roy Ludwig ‘22 (Geology/Education) ‘23g (Adolescent Education: Earth Science) of Poughkeepsie, New York  

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