SUNY Orange Celebrates More Than 800 Students who Earned Degrees During 2010-11 Academic Year

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PHOTO: Members of the SUNY Orange Class of 2011MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. – “Cherish yesterday, live today, dream tomorrow” was the message business professor Dr. Elizabeth White delivered to a record crowd of graduates today during SUNY Orange’s 61st Commencement ceremony, held in the College’s Physical Education Building.

Soggy and potentially unsafe conditions on the Alumni Green, created by nearly a week of rain, caused College administrators to move the event indoors, but the unprecedented gathering of more than 470 graduates seemed unfazed. President Dr. Williams presided over the quickly paced 100-minute ceremony celebrating the culmination of studies for more than 800 graduates who completed their academic degree or certificate requirements during August, December and May.

A capacity crowd of approximately 2,500 filled the gymnasium in support of the graduates, while another 350 watched live video simulcasts at three predetermined overflow locations on campus. Additionally, at least 150 computers or devices were logged onto the College’s first-ever live online video stream of the ceremony.

Dr. Arthur Anthonisen, chair of the SUNY Orange Board of Trustees, took note of the College’s growth as he spoke to Saturday’s record-setting graduating class. “When I first joined the College’s Board of Trustees in 1989, our enrollment was five thousand, three hundred students. This past fall, our enrollment topped seven thousand students for the first time ever,” Anthonisen said. “As the College has evolved and grown, there has been one thing that has remained constant, and that is the value of a SUNY Orange degree.

“Graduating from SUNY Orange is a big deal, because you have completed a very rigorous and challenging curriculum. You have our outstanding faculty to thank for that. They demanded that you give your best, and you delivered.”

PHOTO: Students depart the College's 2011 Commencement ceremonyWhite extolled the graduates to “think back and fully appreciate how you got here today and then thank your family, thank your friends, thank your bosses and coworkers – all of whom understood that sometimes you missed dinner,
could not make that movie, or could not work overtime because of an exam or a paper that was due.

“But, most of all congratulate yourself because others might have doubted you and maybe at times you may have doubted yourself but you did do it,” White added. “Today is not a day like yesterday or tomorrow or any other day in your entire life. It is a day to really savor, take a second and look at and admire that diploma in your hands. It is tangible evidence of your accomplishments.”

Orange County Executive Edward Diana, a 1968 graduate of SUNY Orange, reminded the graduates of the rich history the College possesses. “Sixty one years ago, this new College issued 13 degrees in its first graduating class. It was the best then, and it continues to be the best community college in the (New York State) system today.

“It has been a place of many ‘firsts’ in education, a pioneer and innovator in meeting the needs of residents and students. I am proud to have been one of those students,” he added.

PHOTO: Daija Russell speaks at CommencementEach of the speakers was warmly received, but the day’s largest ovation was held for student speaker Daija Russell (right), of New Windsor, who delivered a frenetically paced speech that included a poem she dedicated to the Class of 2011.

“Always remember that in order to accomplish any goal in life, you must have a vision and that vision must be supported by your belief and driven by your actions,” Russell said. “As we decide on our future beyond SUNY Orange, keep this in mind. It is always easier to point a finger than accept responsibility. If you are really looking for change in your life, you need look no further than the mirror. By changing ourselves, we are changing the world.

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

Each year, SUNY Orange awards diplomas to students who earn Associate in Arts, Associate in Science and Associate in Applied Science degrees, while presenting graduation certificates to those who complete the College’s various certificate programs.

Links to Speeches

Dr. Arthur Anthonisen, chair of SUNY Orange Board of Trustees

Edward A. Diana, Orange County executive

Dr. Elizabeth White, faculty speaker

Daija Russell, student speaker


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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940