More than 475 Graduates Participate in Thursday Evening Ceremony; More than 850 Degrees Issues in 2014-15

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Speech transcript: Helen G. Ullrich

Speech transcript: Meg Atwood

Speech transcript: Moriah Brock

PHOTO: Overhead viewMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- In an homage to the recently retired late night television host David Letterman, SUNY Orange dental hygiene professor Meg Atwood’s speech to the College’s graduating Class of 2015 Thursday evening provided a Top 10 list that encouraged the graduates to “stay connected” to the College, the community and their families, while graduate Moriah Brock expressed gratitude to the professors and College for preparing her for success.

Atwood, a winner of the 2015 State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence, and Brock, who received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, were the featured speakers Thursday as more than 475 graduates accepted their SUNY Orange degrees during the College’s 65th annual Commencement held on the Alumni Green on the Middletown campus. In all, more than 850 students completed their academic degree or certificate requirements during the past academic year.

Additional remarks were delivered by Helen G. Ullrich, chair of the SUNY Orange Board of Trustees and Steve Neuhaus, Orange County executive. The evening also enjoyed a nostalgic atmosphere as the ceremony marked the final Commencement for SUNY Orange president Dr. William Richards, who will retire on June 4 following a highly successful 12-year tenure.

PHOTO: Happy graduatesThe Alumni Green crowd swelled to nearly 2,500, 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 of you never believed that you would be sitting here tonight as a part of this community of graduates,” Atwood said. “Be proud of yourselves for your achievements, but also recognize your growth through the failures, detours, and obstacles which you have encountered along the way. Those combined experiences have made you who you are today, a SUNY Orange graduate.

“Stay connected to your friends and family. Every person here has contributed in some way to the success of a SUNY Orange graduate. Not a single one of you accomplished this alone. ... Stay connected to your profession. ... We hope that you will participate, advocate, and collaborate to keep your educational standards and professions strong and to better serve the public. ...” Atwood continued. “Stay connected to your communities. Use your gifts to make your community a better place: kinder, safer, stronger, greener, more diverse and equitable, better educated, culturally rich, and healthier. ... Stay connected to SUNY Orange. You are now part of the legacy of SUNY Orange. We are a strong and vibrant educational community characterized by excellence and integrity.”

PHOTO: Dr. William RichardsBrock, a Mount Hope resident, is the seventh member of her immediate family to attend SUNY Orange, following her father Roland and each of her five older siblings. She received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence this April and her brother Jonah received the Chancellor’s Award in 2008.

Moriah Brock, a member of the SUNY Orange Honors Program who earned her degree in engineering science, served on the Student Senate and tutored in the mathematics laboratory and library. She was active in the math, chemistry and engineering clubs, as well as the student Board of Activities. Brock was the student representative to the SUNY Orange Foundation’s Board of Directors and was a member of the College’s Presidential Search Committee.

“With a 15-to-1ratio between students and teacher (at SUNY Orange), we were not only able to really learn from our professors but create a lasting bond with them,” Brock explained. “At this time, I would like to sincerely thank them for their mentoring, expertise and for the quick email responses at 4 in the morning.

“Through their patience, compassion and undivided support, they have contributed to all of us in being here today. In the past two years, under the guidance of my professors and perhaps way to much coffee, I have watched myself grow not only in my abilities in my studies but also in my passion for what I was learning and, most importantly, in my perseverance to keep on going even when I felt that I was trying to conquer the impossible.

Speaking on behalf of the College’s trustees, Ullrich thanked Richards for his wonderful work and encouraged the graduates to carry their SUNY Orange education forward to the next step in their lives.

“For the past 12 years, Dr. Richards (right) has employed a unique blend of strategic vision, unwavering leadership and tireless commitment while guiding Orange County Community College to great heights,” Ullrich commented. “In that time, the College has built a branch campus in Newburgh that now serves approximately 1,500 students. We’ve expanded and renovated facilities here on the Middletown campus, including the new multi-tiered parking garage that has improved safety and convenience of the campus for students and faculty and the new Rowley Center for Science and Engineering, a truly wondrous facility.

PHOTO: Smiling graduate“Our scholarship endowment is at an all-time high and our SUNY Orange Foundation recently completed a 25 million dollar capital campaign that ensured the transformation of both the Middletown and Newburgh campuses.

“During Dr. Richards’ tenure, the College has evolved, much like each of you have changed and grown during your time at SUNY Orange. As you celebrate graduation and reflect upon your time at SUNY Orange, you should feel pride in your accomplishments, and know that all of those long hours of studying and perseverance have paid off,” Ullrich said. “You have conquered obstacles, matured and grown in your own special way. Whatever your new path, remember that it was here at Orange County Community College that you found the pathway to achieve your dreams.”

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.


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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940