Ornella T. Parker, SUNY Canton Student Government Association President, addresses her class, faculty members, family and guests at the College’s 106th Commencement.
CANTON -- More than 1,000 SUNY Canton students graduated at the college's 106th Commencement Ceremony Saturday morning in the Convocation, Athletic and Recreation Center.
SUNY Canton Acting President Joseph C. Hoffman congratulated the graduates at his final commencement at the College.
Hoffman will be returning to SUNY Maritime as a distinguished learning professor when Zvi Szafran begins his presidency in early July.
"As this is my first and last SUNY Canton commencement, I would like to thank the faculty, staff and students for making it the most rewarding experience of my life," Hoffman said.
"I will forever cherish our time together."
Dr. David J. Dupree, the keynote speaker for the event, joined the class of 2014 and received an Associate of Applied Science degree that he started 23 years prior.
The Ogdensburg native began his education at SUNY Canton with the intention of becoming a nurse. He left to pursue a bachelor's degree and eventually medical school without earning a degree from SUNY Canton.
He spoke about the importance of discipline and determination in pursuing a dream and shared stories of his own struggles during his journey to become a surgeon, including sleeping in his car and a janitor's closet while completing his residency in New York City.
"Success is achieved by closing the gap between who you are now and who you want to be in the future," he said. "But you will have to navigate through that gap through many countless, but necessary disappointments."
Dupree is the Director of Robotic Surgery at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, New Jersey. He specializes in minimally invasive abdominal surgery and was the first surgeon to perform single-incision surgery at Riverview.
He appeared on ABC News and the CBS television show "The Doctors" in 2012 after performing a life-saving operation to remove a 51-pound tumor from a patient.
The senior class address was presented by Ornella T. Parker of Brooklyn. Parker is the outgoing Student Government Association President and a 2014 Health Care Management graduate.
"Making it to this monumental day proves that we are prepared for anything the real world has in store for us," Parker said.
Among the graduates receiving special recognition were Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence recipients Lydia C. Dale of Norwood, a Graphic and Multimedia Design major from Norwood, Meghan P. Gibson, a Sports Management major from Canton and Tiffany V. Moore, a Veterinary Science Technology major from Brooklyn.
Moore also received the Outstanding Graduate Award at the associate level.
Melanie H. Mueller, a Law Enforcement Leadership major from Afton, received the College's Outstanding Graduate Award at the bachelor's degree level. Mueller completed her degree completely online and only needed to travel to campus for award ceremonies and commencement.
The David R. Maynard Student Activities Award was presented to Melissa Cummins, a Veterinary Science Technology major from Martville. Cummins is the president of the College's Habitat for Humanity student chapter. She will be returning to SUNY Canton in Fall 2014 to pursue her four-year degree in Veterinary Science Technology and will serve as the College's Student Government Association President.
One student graduated with the Chancellor's Scholar-Athlete Award. Cory Giczewski of Fountain Valley, Calif., was recognized for carrying a high grade-point average, playing on the men's hockey team and volunteering for a number of service-based and charitable endeavors.
The top five bachelor's degrees awarded were Nursing, Legal Studies, Finance, Management and Criminal Investigation.
The top three associate degrees awarded were Nursing, Criminal Justice, Liberal Arts, Business Administration and Veterinary Science Technology.