SUNY Sullivan held its 59th annual commencement Saturday, May 13, on campus in the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse. Former SUNY Sullivan trustee Dr. Larysa Dyrszka, MD, delivered the commencement address. SUNY Sullivan Officer in Charge Dr. Ellen Galligan, Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Nancy Hackett, and Interim Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Rose Hanofee conferred 181 degrees on students from the May and August classes of 2023 and the December class of 2022. Pastor Ken Ronk gave the invocation and benediction, Sullivan County Legislature Vice Chair Michael Brooks, Dr. Hackett, and Dr. Galligan delivered welcoming remarks. Student Government Association President Roxanne Dastparvardeh ’23 was the class speaker.
“I wanted to be certain to communicate how very proud the faculty and staff here at SUNY Sullivan are of each and every one of you and your tremendous accomplishments. We are grateful to be inspired by you in our work each day,” said Dr. Galligan. “You join prior SUNY Sullivan graduates as the embodiment of our work here at SUNY Sullivan: educated, inspired, empowered citizens who will now apply your skills and knowledge to improve the lives of your families and your community.”
“You’ve become role models for our community.” Hackett told the graduates. “Be proud of your success and excited for your future. To all of you, your families, proud parents, grandparents, faculty, staff and administration, well done!”
“Thank you for allowing me to share this day with you. It’s special, and I wish you the best as you move to the next phases of your lives, full of hope, love, knowledge, and understanding—skills that will make this world a better place,” said Dr. Dyrszka, a Bethel resident, retired pediatrician, a community and health advocate. “If I can offer you one piece of advice, as you continue your journey, it’s to defend your beliefs. Never take them for granted. Be the change that you wish to see in the world. Congratulations, class of 2023!”
Brooks discussed the financial other challenges facing students today, and said that it was fantastic news that students have embraced the Sullivan Promise Scholarship opportunity created by the Legislature last year and now heads into its second year with great support.
“Graduates continue to do the work required and be disciplined about it, and the path to success become a much easier one to navigate,” said Brooks. “Enjoy today, celebrate the achievements of your loved ones and respect the opportunities our country provides to each and every one of you.”
Dastparvardeh congratulated her classmates on overcoming obstacles and hurdles on their journey to achieving academic success and gave thanks to her family and college community for always being there for her.
“I want to thank my mom and my dad for always pushing me to work hard, and for always supporting me. I really would not be here without them,” said Dastparvardeh. “My journey here was the start of a brand new chapter in my life in which I was able to grow, mentally and emotionally . . . From students to faculty and staff members, there were numerous people that aided me during times of need and guided me through hardships. Whatever the case I always had someone in my corner and for that I am forever grateful to have an amazing community such as ours.”
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.
Dr. Galligan and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther delivered welcoming remarks. Thomas R. Harvie, Ventilator Program Director/Director of Respiratory Care at Northeast Center for Rehabilitation & Brain Injury, was the guest speaker. Valedictorian Sean Resto ’23 gave the Respiratory Care graduate address. Valedictorian Angelina Pacella ’23 gave the Nursing graduate address.
“Your graduation and future work will have a positive impact on our community,” said Galligan, who stressed the challenging health care metrics facing the local community. “You are now part of the solution. Congratulations!”
“Nurses are the fiber that hold together our hospitals, our nursing homes, our emergency rooms, and all of the doctor’s offices,” said Gunther, a fellow nurse who said that being a registered nurse is one of the greatest privileges of her life. “I want to thank you for your dedication for improving the lives of so many.”
“I’m very proud of your accomplishments. You’ve done well,” said Respiratory Care Director Tom McManus told respiratory care graduates. McManus presented graduating students Sean Resto ’23 and Rosalie Felice ’23 with Awards from the Lambda Beta Society, the national honor society for the respiratory care profession. Resto and Felice, in turn, presented McManus, who is retiring this year, with an award and gifts in appreciation of his devotion to students in the respiratory community.
Nursing Program Director Dr. Chyrise Taylor encouraged Nursing graduates to acknowledge the army of people who helped get them to this point and, as they build their army of support in their careers, to seek out people who exhibit excellence.
“You want to seek the people who are practicing your profession at the highest level,” said Taylor, who advised the graduates to say away from negativity and drama. “Please, stay away from anyone who is going to hold you back.”
As part of the Saturday afternoon’s commencement ceremony, Dr. Galligan, Dr. Hackett, and Hanofee also presented 2023 SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence to Haddy Gai ’23 and Roxanne Dastparvardeh ’23 (Student Excellence); Associate Professor, Liberal Arts, Sciences and Health Sciences Jessica Lopez-Barkl (Faculty Service); Director of Institutional Research and Acting Director of Institutional Technology Andrew Becker (Professional Service); and Buildings & Grounds Maintenance Worker Lou Russell (Classified Service).
For a full list of SUNY Sullivan student academic and athletic awards, click here.
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.
May 13, 2023.