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Hudson Valley Community College Celebrates 54th Commencement
Class of 2008 is largest in college's history Photos Available

CONTACT: Paula Monaco (518) 378-3835 - cell
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Saturday, May 17, 2008

Remarks by President Andrew J. Matonak, Ed.D.

Remarks by Student Senate President Alyssa Cavosie '08

Commencement Program
Graduates listed reflect those whose names were submitted by April 15, 2008.

Photos Available Photo Gallery Available

Hudson Valley Community College celebrated its 54th commencement today, and the Class of 2008 was the college's largest graduating class ever, with 1,842 students eligible to participate in the commencement ceremony.

The ceremony also celebrated another milestone; the college experienced a record number of honor graduates - those students who completed their studies with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Among the 2008 graduates, 433 achieved honor status.

Drew Matonak, president of Hudson Valley Community College encouraged, the Class of 2008 to invest the power of their education in the Capital Region. "It is my sincere hope that you will, much as the generations of Hudson Valley alumni who preceded you have done, choose to invest the power of your education here in the Capital Region, and that you will use your education not only to build better lives for yourselves and your families, but to strengthen our economy and our society, and enrich and enliven our community."

The commencement ceremony, which began at 9 a.m. in the McDonough Sports Complex, was broadcast live on Time Warner Cable Channel 3. The college's Viking Video Technologies, a full-service video and communications production house, coordinated that initiative for the fourth consecutive year.

Class of 2008 graduates came from around the world, including Sudan; Turkey; Korea; Bangladesh; Israel and Canada. Each year, approximately 94 percent of Hudson Valley graduates find immediate employment in their field or successfully transfer directly to a four-year institution following graduation. This year transfer institutions include The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Brigham Young University, and Rochester Institute of Technology.

This year, the largest academic departments (by number of graduates) were Individual Studies, 351 graduates; Business Administration, 258 graduates; Criminal Justice,145 graduates; Liberal Arts, 90 graduates; Early Childhood Education, 87 graduates; Computer Information Systems, 72 graduates; Nursing, 62 graduates; and Electrical Construction and Maintenance, 53 graduates.

The Class of 2008 gift was presented by Student Senate President, Alyssa Cavosie. This year's gift will be the upgrade and replacement of outdoor wooden kiosks that are used to post information about student activities.

More students from the Capital Region graduate from Hudson Valley than any other college in the area. Ninety-eight percent of this year's graduates live in one of the four Capital Region counties: Albany (38 percent), Rensselaer (32 percent), Saratoga (16 percent) and Schenectady (12 percent).

Founded in 1953, Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 70 degree and certificate programs in four academic divisions: Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Science; and Liberal Arts and Sciences; and an Educational Opportunity Center for academic and career training. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 12,000 students, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and workforce training. Hudson Valley has nearly 65,000 alumni.

Graduates from the Class of 2008 include:

Dayna Cook is a Liberal Arts graduate who plans to attend Virginia Wesleyan University in the fall, and, eventually, move on to medical school. Her classroom performance and her membership in the academic honor society Phi Theta Kappa helped her earn a $10,000 scholarship to Virginia Wesleyan.

Dayna wasn't always so sure about her future, however. In fact, like many students, she used her experience at Hudson Valley to help shape the direction of her life. While a student, she also took the opportunity to volunteer at Albany Medical Center's emergency room, and that experience cemented her decision to pursue medical school.

In her own words: "The faculty at Hudson Valley is the best there is; honestly! The teachers were the most helpful; instead of teaching for a paycheck they teach to help students."

Melissa Lee is a young woman with energy and initiative to spare. Missy started her Hudson Valley career in Individual Studies but soon switched her major to Human Services. As a student with a disability, Missy has had to deal with significant health concerns and mobility issues.

During her time at Hudson Valley, Missy devoted countless hours to her studies, but still found time to pursue many volunteer activities. Perhaps inspired by the support she received from so many others within and beyond the Hudson Valley community, Missy was tireless in her support and encouragement of others. Even with the work required of an honors student, she found time to volunteer with Special Olympics and the Capital District Development Disability Service Office, and recently interned as an advocate with the Independent Learning Center of the Hudson Valley, helping people negotiate the complicated landscape of disability services.

For the past two years, Missy has also served as president of Hudson Valley's Not a Bit of Difference Club. Her message to everyone she counsels? "Don't ever give up. If you stop fighting, you won't get anywhere." Missy plans to study Social Work at SUNY Albany.

Samuel C. Wright III. A returning adult student graduating in the Civil Engineering Technology program, Sam's experience exemplifies the importance of scholarship funding in helping a student to achieve his or her dream. After more than 20 years working in farming and running an excavation business, Sam returned to school with the goal of obtaining a professional engineer's license. Like so many of our students, he juggled coursework alongside the demands of job and family. He has proven to be an outstanding student and was named to the President's List.

In addition to taking on numerous extracurricular activities within his department, Sam was elected president of Hudson Valley's student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Hardworking, creative, and always willing to lend his fellow students a hand, Sam plans to complete his professional licensure after graduation.

Commencement Address to the 2008 Graduating Class of
Hudson Valley Community College
Delivered by Student Senate President Alyssa Cavosie
May 17, 2008

Welcome and thank you for coming to the 2008 commencement ceremony. Graduates, we did it!

Today is a day to be proud of an accomplishment that can be considered a major stepping stone in all your lives. May today mark the beginning of many new joys and endeavors... and a continuation of all of the good things that you have already.

I would like to thank Drew Matonak; Alex Popovics; Board of Trustees Chairman, Dr. Robert Hill; Rensselaer County Executive, Kathleen M. Jimino; Chairman of the County Legislature, Neil J. Kelleher; members of the Rensselaer County Legislature; members of the Board of Trustees; the platform party; a special thank you to Department Chair, Brian Vlieg; administration; faculty; staff; and members of the student senate.

I would also like to give a sincere thank you to Louis Coplin, Jonathan Winnicki, and Susan Smith. These three people are dedicated to student activities and are dedicated to the students. With out them Student Activities would not be able to flourish each and every year. Thank you for everything you have done.

I also would like to thank my fellow student senate executive board. Please stand to be recognized. Fall of 2007 student senate president, Meriem Chekima; vice president, Sean Burton; secretary, Brittney Shoeman; and treasurer, Jackie Sofia. Having the chance to work as a team with you all has truly been a pleasure.

This year's student senate has had a very successful year. There was a lot of hard work put forth in order to provide many events and activities to the college and its students. One of the major highlights this year was the record breaking voter turn out for the student senate elections with aid from the new online voting system. This year there was 866 votes, which quadrupled last year's vote count.

Some of the successful events this year were the Welcome back BBQ, year-long coffee house showcases, Leadership Week, and spring fest. We also had some memorable trips which included spring break in the Bahamas and trips to New York City and Montreal.

This year's class gift will be the upgrade and replacement of the current outdoor wooden kiosks. They are very old and worn down. The kiosks contain bulletin boards inside them and are used to promote events happening on campus.

On a closing note, congratulations and good luck in your futures. Remember this, a quote by Paul Bryant "If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride - and never quit, you'll be a winner. The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards." Thank you.