The Honorable Josephine Victoria Finn, Vice Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, Delivered the Commencement Address
SUNY Sullivan held its 58th annual commencement Saturday, May 14, on campus in the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse*. The Honorable Josephine Victoria Finn, Vice Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, delivered the commencement address. President Jay Quaintance, Board of Trustees Chairwoman Dr. Nancy Hackett, and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Marc Singer conferred 211 degrees on students from the May and August classes of 2022 and the December class of 2021. John Christian Plummer, SGI Buddhist Leader, gave the invocation and benediction, and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther delivered welcoming remarks. Nichole Connal ’21 was the class speaker.
“You join prior graduates as the embodiment of our work here at SUNY Sullivan: educated, inspired, empowered citizens who will now sustain our culture of excellence in their lives and communities,” said Quantaince. “After this ceremony, you will leave us and begin the rest of your life. Perhaps you are transferring to another school, perhaps you are starting a career; either way, I ask that you consider this: You are only as strong as those around you. Working to improve the lives of others will reward you as well. When the opportunity arises, reach out, lift up others, be human.”
“Look around you, so many of you are here because you understood what a college education could mean for you, your future, and your family,” Hackett told the graduates. “You held on to your dream of a college degree, which is not easy in today’s world of endless challenges.”
Vice Chancellor Finn, who was a teacher at Sullivan County Community College for 13 years, praised the students for their vision and for their action and told them to remember, when life gets hard, how they persevered through the pandemic to graduate Saturday.
“Reflection is good, but you could think about stuff all day long, and it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t do something,” said Finn. “I want you to remember that reflection plus action equals transformation. You’ve learned how to do that . . . your action and your reflection is what got you here . . . you obviously have what it takes to win.”
Connal, who was honored at the ceremony with a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, encouraged her fellow graduates to be proud of their accomplishments.
“These past years have been rough for us all, in several ways. Some of us entered this school during the online period, others waited to be back in person to complete their degree, but all of us have at least one thing in common. Despite the challenges we might have faced, we are all here today,” said Connal, who was honored at the ceremony with a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. “With this diverse community here at SUNY Sullivan we have all walked on different paths that led us to this shared one. You all are prime examples of what defines SUNY Sullivan, and I know that you should all be proud of your accomplishments.”
In a separate ceremony Saturday morning, SUNY Sullivan also held its Health Sciences Pinning Ceremony for graduates of the College’s Nursing and Respiratory Care programs
Senator Mike Martucci and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther delivered welcoming remarks. Gunther, the first registered nurse to serve in the New York State Assembly had high praise for the Nursing and Respiratory Care graduates.
“In this profession, we need you more than ever,” said Gunther, who is the first registered nurse to serve in the New York State Assembly. “I’m proud of each and every one of you.”
Nursing Program valedictorian and class speaker Brieanna Porter grew up in a family of nurses, with her mother, grandmother, and sister all choosing the profession. After working at a credit union for 10 years, Porter decided, driving to work one morning that she wanted to be a nurse.
“I spent a lot of time working really hard but never really being fulfilled . . . I came home and I sat down with my husband and I was like ‘yeah, I think I need to quit my job. I’m supposed to be a nurse’,” said Porter, who received her nursing pin from her mother, Delores Conklin-Duffy at Saturday morning’s ceremony. “Caring for people through their toughest times is one of the most incredible forms of service.”
As part of the Saturday afternoon’s commencement ceremony, Quaintance, Hackett, and Singer also presented 2022 SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence to Daneryl Weber, Associate Professor, Liberal Arts, Sciences and Health Sciences (Excellence in Teaching); Jeanine Nielsen, Associate Professor, Liberal Arts, Sciences and Health Sciences (Excellence in Adjunct Teaching); Brent Wilson, Head Men’s Basketball Coach and Assistant Director of Athletics (Excellence in Professional Service); and Robert Psarudakis, Registration Database Specialist (Excellence in Classified Service). For a full list of SUNY Sullivan student academic and athletic awards, click here.
*In collaboration with the Sullivan County Department of Health and following CDC and SUNY guidelines, the College required masks to be worn by all staff, students, and guests at both of Saturday’s ceremonies.
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.