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05/22/2004
Hudson Valley Community College hosts 50th Commencement on Saturday, May 22 Photos Available

CONTACT: Janine Kava (518) 629-8071 or (518) 341-0601 (pager)
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Saturday, May 22, 2004

Students with diverse goals, dreams earn their degrees

Remarks by President Marco J. Silvestri, Ph.D.

Keynote Remarks by U.S. Representative John E. Sweeney

Photos Available Photo Gallery

Adjima Moreira came to the United States in 1996, after his support of the opposition party in his native Togo made it dangerous for him to remain.

He spent the next seven years working odd jobs – everything from washing dishes to driving a cab – in the Bronx and Capital Region. Sometimes the money was good, but he and his fiancée were searching for a better life.

In January of 2003 – after months of seeing Hudson Valley stickers on cars throughout the region – he enrolled at the age of 34.

Today, just a short 17 months later, Moreira graduated from Hudson Valley Community College. He was one of the approximately 1,500 students who received their degrees at the college's 50th Commencement ceremony this morning in the McDonough Sports Complex. U.S. Representative John E. Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, a 1979 graduate of the college, gave the keynote address.

Sweeney spoke about his experiences at Hudson Valley, and how the college shaped his life and the lives of all those it graduates.

"Like so many of you, I'm here today, proud to know that at HVCC we have a place where we learned more about ourselves, more about others, and prepared for a brave – and very different – new world," Sweeney told the gathering.

"Because one of the unique aspects about Hudson Valley itself is that it offers a chance to advance for some, who opportunity may have otherwise passed by, a chance to apply themselves, test themselves, discover, grow, and have a shot at reaching their dreams, their true potential," he added.

Moreira, who lives in Menands, received an associate's degree in Engineering Science, and will attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the fall to study electrical engineering. He says a bachelor's, master's degree and Ph.D. are all in his future.

"When I started school, I got my life back," he said. "I have never been happier."

In addition to attaining higher degrees, Moreira has two very different dreams: given the opportunity, he wants to return to Hudson Valley to teach. But he also holds fast to the possibility of returning to Togo one day – to run for president.

According to Mathematics Professor Joan Shack, Moreira is already well-suited to be a teacher: he goes out of his way to lend a hand to students who need extra help to succeed, prompting some of those students to call him "Professor Adjima."

"He is hard working, sincere and dedicated. He will help any student in the Math Department," Shack said. "He is just a great human being."

"I don't like to see people fail," Moreira said.

Moreira received the Garnett D. Baltimore scholarship award to attend RPI, and while a student at Hudson Valley, he received a Second Chance Scholarship. Funded by the Second Chance Scholarship Foundation, these scholarships are awarded to students who show financial need and a willingness to work hard to pursue their dreams.

In addition to Moreira, other members of the Class of 2004 included:

Andrea Catroppa of Schenectady. The 19-year-old was one of the first students in Hudson Valley's history who earned her associate's degree in Individual Studies completely online.

Catroppa chose online learning because she believed it would be the best way to start college while her family was in transition – they moved to the Capital Region from Central New York in August 2002, just before she began her studies at Hudson Valley.

Once classes began, the online program was a terrific fit: "I am a visual learner and online learning has allowed me to build on my strengths because it is mainly a visual medium. I've learned a great deal … and have been introduced to many new ideas. My reading, writing and computer skills have been greatly enhanced," she said.

A full-time student, Catroppa also maintained a grade point average of 4.0. She described her online courses as structured, challenging and rigorous, and said they have provided a good foundation for her future college work. She plans to continue her education at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and eventually wants to earn a master's degree in library science.

Miriam Kramer of Clifton Park. The higher education path typically ends with a doctorate – but not in Miriam Kramer's case. A full-time psychologist with a Ph.D. in psychology from the University at Albany, she graduated with an associate's degree in nursing, which will allow her to pursue her plans to work as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

A married mother of four children, Dr. Kramer works full time at the New York State Department of Children and Family Services' Tryon Residential Center in Fulton County, and earned her degree in the evening.

"Hudson Valley has a very good program and is low cost, relative to other programs in the area. I feel very well prepared," Kramer said.

Brenda McGreevy of Guilderland. The convenience of distance learning allowed McGreevy to earn her associate's degree in criminal justice almost entirely online while working full time for the state Division of Criminal Justice Services and volunteering 20 hours a week as an emergency medical technician for the Western Turnpike Rescue Squad in Guilderland.

"I decided to go to school for a degree after my youngest daughter went to college and that left me being the only one in the household that hadn't gone to college," said McGreevy, 49 and a mother of two grown daughters. "Online courses definitely fit my schedule and my life."

McGreevy, who also graduated with a 4.0 G.P.A., hasn't yet decided whether she will pursue a bachelor's degree.

Typically, about 40 percent of Hudson Valley graduates transfer to a four-year college or university, with UAlbany, The College of Saint Rose, Siena College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute among the most popular transfer institutions. Of those that choose to enter the workforce immediately, more than 90 percent are employed in their field of choice within a year after graduation.

Founded in 1953, Hudson Valley Community College offers more than 50 degree and certification programs in four academic divisions: Liberal Arts and Sciences; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Business; as well as programs run through the Educational Opportunity Center offering certification programs in workforce and academic preparation. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, it has an enrollment of more than 11,000 students, and it is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining. Hudson Valley has graduated more than 58,000 students.