On Saturday, May 14, SUNY Sullivan held its 58th annual commencement ceremony for 211 graduates from the May and August classes of 2022 and the December class of 2021. Behind every diploma, cap, and gown in the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse this weekend is a student with a unique story of personal goals, hard work, perseverance, and achievement.
Here are a few of those graduates’ accomplishments and stories.
Amy Brudermann – AAS, Business Administration
Monticello resident Amy Brudermann may have taken a few years to pursue a college degree, but once she did, she pursued her courses with dogged determination, earning her degree in business administration, with a 3.97 GPA, in just one and a half years, while working two-full time jobs. In addition to three full semesters of courses, Brudermann, a mother of two adult children, took additional courses last summer and this winter so that she could finish her degree this spring.
“It was a long year and a half,” said Brudermann, who was a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success and Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society at SUNY Sullivan. “I worked really hard and made a lot of sacrifices to be able to walk on stage and receive my degree.”
She thanked her children, professors, and classmates for helping her adjust to new ways of learning. “Twenty-five years ago, when I last studied, everyone used books. Now everything is online and the books are digital. That took some getting used to and there was defiantly a learning curve and several panic attacks. Thank goodness for my children,” said Brudermann. “Luckily, the instructors at SUNY Sullivan were all very patient and understanding. Several of my classmates also played a role in helping me navigate through some of the kinks I had to iron out. I am grateful for everyone.”
Brudermann, who works as a Contract Monitor for Sullivan County Department of Social Services, said not having a college degree limited her ability to pursue civil service promotions, something her SUNY Sullivan degree will change immediately. Less than forty-eight hours after receiving her degree, Brudermann will walk into work Monday morning to a new job title and a pay raise. Going forward, she plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree and hopes to inspire others thinking about returning to college to take the leap.
“SUNY Sullivan has helped me realize that it is possible to have a lot going on in life and still get a degree,” said Brudermann. “The staff has been phenomenal. They are eager to help students succeed and they really do want the best for their students. My hope is that I can inspire anyone who is thinking about going back to school to know that you can do anything you set your mind to. It’s a small amount of time with a large reward. If I can do it, anyone can!”
Ryan Grodin – AS, Liberal Arts and Sciences
After graduating from SUNY Sullivan last May with a degree in business administration, Wurtsboro native Ryan Grodin didn’t have to look far to continue his education and pursue his strong interest in science. He returned to SUNY Sullivan in the fall to pursue a degree in liberal arts and sciences.
”I didn’t necessarily want to jump into a four-year school,” said Grodin, adding that he appreciated the freedom and flexibility that SUNY Sullivan offers, as well as the close relationships with professors. “I’ve never worked with a (teacher’s assistant) here, I’ve always worked directly with the professor.”
When the pandemic forced him to finish his business degree with two semesters of remote classes, Grodin kept busy working installing commercial flooring in his free time. The resumption of in-person learning last fall enabled him to get more involved on campus. In addition to Garden Club and the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society, Grodin also helped tag the College’s nature trails and volunteered in the College’s chemistry lab, cleaning test tubes, preparing solutions, and doing other work. He said seeking out and taking part in those experiences gave him valuable confidence and insight.
“I think it’s definitely increasing my autonomy and I think my confidence in what I can accomplish,” Grodin said. “It’s also given more of a large-scale way of thinking about the world, especially how (SUNY) Sullivan interacts with the county through things like the Food Pantry, and what institutions can do for the community.”
Grodin is heading to SUNY New Paltz in the fall to study biochemistry. He’s particularly interested in research, possibly with an agricultural focus
“With ‘biochem,’ there’s a lot of interesting stuff . . . maybe making safer sprays for crops or working on insect mitigation via biochemistry,” said Grodin, who would like his work to be beneficial for society. “I don’t want to be so abstract that my work doesn’t necessarily help anybody. Making it apply to something in society would be super cool.”
Chihiro Uchizono – AAS, Hospitality and Tourism Management
While her passion for travel and learning about other cultures lead Chihiro Uchizono to SUNY Sullivan’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Program, her commitment to pursuing her degree may have redefined what it means to study remotely. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Uchizono, who grew up in Osaka, Japan, had to return home, and studied remotely there for the first two semesters of her coursework at SUNY Sullivan.
“The first semester right after COVID-19 was the most difficult year for me because there is a 13- hour time gap between Japan and the U.S…. so I had to wake up 2 or 3 am in the morning to attend zoom class,” said Uchizono. “I had to go work after that, so it was very tough to manage my time schedule.”
When in-person classes resumed last fall, Uchizono made the most of her time on campus, becoming Student Government Association Treasurer and an active participant in Garden Club, Performing Arts Club, and Art Club.
“I enjoyed my experiences at SUNY Sullivan a lot because it is a small college. I can interact with many people including faculty members and students and be close with them,” said Uchizono. “I appreciate the very welcoming atmosphere since I am an international student who came to the U.S. alone.”
After a road trip tour of the East Coast with friends, Uchizono said her next step is to find an internship and get some job experience in the travel industry. “I am really interested to travel more and get to know more about other cultures,” said Uchizono. “I am looking a job related to traveling. I am really hoping that I can find a flight attendant job.”
About SUNY Sullivan
SUNY Sullivan is the leader of innovative higher education and a catalyst for workforce development throughout the Sullivan Catskills and beyond. Our diverse community cultivates personal growth and professional advancement, preparing students for success in a sustainable and interconnected world. A forward-looking, top-tier community college in New York, SUNY Sullivan offers over 40 degree programs, certificates, and micro-credentials for learners at all levels of their educational goals. We value critical inquiry and creativity while supporting our students in a culture of inclusion and respect. For more information, visit sunysullivan.edu.