MIDDLETOWN – Business professor Terree Angerame encouraged the more than 500 graduates attending Thursday night’s Commencement ceremony at SUNY Orange to view their future as a journey and to enjoy the simple pleasures along the way, while student speaker Allyson Andryshak urged her classmates to appreciate the richness of their “unconventional” experience at SUNY Orange.
Angerame, a winner of the 2016 State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence, and Andryshak, who received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, were the featured speakers Thursday as a record 510 graduates gathered for the College’s 66th annual Commencement held on the Alumni Green on the Middletown campus. In all, nearly 900 students completed their academic degree or certificate requirements during the past academic year or are on tap to do so this summer.
Additional remarks were delivered by Helen G. Ullrich, chair of the SUNY Orange Board of Trustees; Harry Porr, director of operations for Orange County who was representing County Executive Steve Neuhaus; and Derrik Wynknoop, chair-elect of the SUNY Orange Foundation Board of Directors. SUNY Orange President Dr. Kristine Young, who arrived at the College last June, also spoke briefly while directing her first Commencement.
“I believe what commences for you today is the ability to see that the world isn’t a big scary place, but rather a place full of opportunity,” Young said. “You now have an enhanced capacity to locate those opportunities, make sense of them, and take advantage of them, not only for yourself, but for those who are less fortunate than you are.
“Commence being awesome, graduates. SUNY Orange is very proud of you and so filled with hope for you.”
On a beautiful spring evening that featured sunny skies and a gentle cool breeze, the Alumni Green crowd swelled to nearly 4,000, with most cheering heartily throughout the evening. An additional grouping of folks watched live video simulcasts at two auxiliary on-campus locations while the College also provided a live online video stream of the ceremony.
“Many will have you believe the future is a destination, a place you are trying to get to, as I may have thought those many years ago at graduation,” explained Angerame, who accepted her associate’s degree from SUNY Orange on the very same Alumni Green in 1988. “Rather, I challenge you to see the future as a journey. Your journey will be filled with many uncertainties that will come in many different forms. The uncertainty and challenges in many cases are what move us forward and bring us to experiences that are enjoyed along the way. They may also change the destination.
“I would also encourage you to enjoy all the simple pleasures encountered along your journey, like today,” she added. “While earning your degree takes a lot of hard work, today is a simple day, a day for celebration. Look for those simple times, like spending time with family, reading a good book or enjoying the company of a good friend. These times help sustain you along your journey. Today we celebrate you, your accomplishment, your graduation.”
Andryshak, a Middletown resident who attended SUNY Orange on a full-tuition President’s Scholarship for Outstanding Academic Achievement, served as president of the College’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for students at two-year colleges. She indicated that her first college choice was SUNY Orange, and she encouraged the graduates to embrace and appreciate the education they received at SUNY Orange, rather than lamenting the loss of experiences at a four-year university.
“What is the college experience?” Andryshak asked her fellow graduates. “Being students at a two-year institution doesn’t make us, in any way, less than those on the ‘conventional’ path, the path of going from high school to a four-year institution, and basing that decision on the lifestyle experiences that institution would offer during those four years of your life. I’ve found that the college experience is not one type of experience.
“The college experience is the intensity of pushing through classes to enable yourself to attain a better career; and better support yourself, and maybe a family. The college experience is the newness and strangeness of returning to school, and discovering that the change isn’t so scary or awkward; that you can fall in love with learning again and form wonderful bonds along the way.
“The college experience is the shock of unmet expectations and learning to adapt, to find success in new outlets. The college experience is taking the time you need to realize where your ambitions lay, no matter how many years at SUNY Orange it takes,” she added. “The college experience is owning your decisions wherever you are, and seeing that learning is maximized when it continues outside of the classroom. Maybe we’ve traded in the could-have-been’s for the things that are. Maybe our lives are richer because of that trade.”