CANTON – Roos House was bursting with proud parents and beaming brothers and sisters as nearly 800 degrees were bestowed upon SUNY Canton students Saturday morning.
“At this graduation, we are conferring over 780 degrees, and half of our graduates are walking across the stage today,” SUNY Canton President Zvi Szafran said. “Thirty-three of our students are graduating with two degrees, and one is graduating with an unbelievable three degrees.”
Graduates ranged in age from 19 to 64 years old, Mr. Szafran said.
Graduates were mostly from New York, he said, but also represented 18 other states, Puerto Rico and seven foreign countries – Cameroon, Finland, Gabon, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, United Kingdom and Canada.
Mr. Szafran said more than half of SUNY Canton’s graduates earned honors and 45 were graduating with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
“Our average undergraduate GPA,” he said, “is an excellent 3.29.”
Three students received Outstanding Graduate Awards.
Cassidy Asiamah earned a baccalaureate-level Outstanding Graduate Award.
Ms. Asiamah majored in criminal investigations with a minor in forensic science.
“During my time at SUNY Canton, I have endured many trials and tribulations. From bouncing from home to home, to practically raising myself, to making connections, to stepping out of my comfort zone, joining and eventually running African Students Union, ”Ms. Asiamah said in her address to students. “With all these trials and tribulations, I completed a four-year program in three, along with three internships in one semester and closed out the semester with a successful fashion show for my club. So with that being said, I made it out. ”
Bryan J. Levy also received an Outstanding Graduate Award at the baccalaureate level.
Mr. Levy is a nontraditional student who graduated from the mechanical engineering technology program and held the highest cumulative GPA in his class for the past three years.
“The faculty in the Canino School (of Engineering Technology) are notorious for going above and beyond,” he said. Levy said. “When COVID-19 shook the world, I was laid off from my then job in the restaurant industry. I was convinced that my education would be terminated early, I would be forced to accept my associate (degree), and find a new line of business to sustain my livelihood. Mr. Neil Haney (Canino School instructional support technician) deserves endless recognition for employing me, housing me, and helping pave my path through the completion of my bachelor’s degree. “
The Outstanding Graduate Award at the associate level went to Katlynn M. Allen, of Malone.
Ms. Allen graduated from the physical therapist assistant program.
“During her time at SUNY Canton, Katlynn was a member of the cross-country team in addition to philanthropic work at places like United Helpers Maplewood Assisted Living facility,” said Courtney Battista Bish, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “Katlynn is described by those who supported her nomination for this award as committed to speaking out for what she believes in, quietly confident, a caring advocate, compassionate, and thoughtful.”
Jonah Black, president of the Student Government Association, congratulated the graduates for enduring during challenging times.
“You all have made it through the COVID-19 pandemic, which is an accomplishment in its own right,” Mr. Black said. “The unexpected transition to online learning caused many to leave, but you all have stuck it through to the end. Completing research papers, exams, labs, and internships, all while being thrown into an online learning environment is astounding. As I see it, each of you made it through COVID, so what do you have to worry about? It can’t get worse than that – knock on wood. ”
Before diplomas were handed out, graduates received a video message from Sen. Charles E. Schumer, DN.Y.
Sen. Schumer congratulated graduates on persevering through the pandemic and got a rousing round of applause when he mentioned his support for student loan forgiveness.
College Council Chair Ronald M. O’Neill reminded students of the uniqueness of their class.
“There has never been a graduating class in our school history quite like yours,” he said. O’Neill said. “While the pandemic was unexpected and unwelcome, by going through it together, it has created a bond that I hope you will carry forward into this new phase of your lives.”