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05/17/2006
Hudson Valley Community College To Celebrate 52nd Commencement
Graduates with diverse goals, backgrounds to receive degrees, certificates on Saturday, May 20

CONTACT: Eric Bryant or Janine Kava (518) 629-8071
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Fact Sheet

Graduates profiled in this advisory are available for interviews this week and on Saturday, May 20, after the Commencement ceremony. To arrange interviews, please contact Janine Kava or Eric Bryant by noon on Friday, May 19, to set up a time and place to meet with the graduate either prior to, or the day of, graduation.

Even today, it is common in rural Cameroon to blame illnesses on witchcraft or other superstition. Growing up in the small village of Muaku, Prudencia Iyok instinctively knew these superstitious beliefs were unfounded, but modern medicine had not yet found its way to rural west Africa.

Immigrating to the United States in 2001, Iyok began working as a nurse's aide, and quickly saw the powerful effect medicine can have to treat illness and disease. She resolved to learn more, and in 2004 she enrolled at Hudson Valley Community College with the goal of entering pharmacy school.

On Saturday, May 20, Iyok will be one step closer to achieving that goal. A President's List student and a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for students at two-year institutions, Iyok will be one of about 1,700 students graduating from Hudson Valley.

The college's 52nd commencement ceremony begins at 9 a.m. in the field house at the McDonough Sports Complex on the college's Troy campus. This year, nearly 1,700 graduates earned associate degrees and certificates from the college, which offers more than 60 degree and certificate programs through four schools: School of Business; School of Engineering and Industrial Technologies; School of Health Sciences; and School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Former U.S. Navy Vice Admiral John R. Ryan, chancellor of the State University of New York, will give the Commencement address.

Typically, half of Hudson Valley's graduates transfer to a four-year college or university after earning their associate degrees; the remaining graduates enter the workforce, pursuing careers in fields ranging from dental hygiene, nursing and chemical dependency counseling to law enforcement, accounting, and information technology.

The next stop on Iyok's educational journey will be the five-year doctoral program at the Albany College of Pharmacy. It's a long way from Muaku, Cameroon to the Albany College of Pharmacy, and Hudson Valley has helped her bridge that gap.

A 32-year-old Individual Studies graduate, she's especially grateful for the services offered through the college's Learning Assistance Center, where students can go for one-on-one academic assistance and tutoring.

"For those who use it, it is very, very helpful, especially in Calculus," she said. "HVCC has been a great experience for me."

All this would simply be another success story if one didn't take into account the fact that Iyok is a mother of two small children who also works a full-time job at the New York State Department of Children and Family Services. Demanding doesn't even come close to describing her schedule. She works from midnight to 8 a.m., arrives home to care for her children and then attends school from about 3 to 9 p.m. She says she catches about 2 hours of sleep a night, and naps with her sons during the day.

It's hard to leave her children and head off to school but, she said, she's doing all of this for them. "They are the main reason I decided to come to school. I thought about my kids and their future," Iyok said.

Other members of the Class of 2006 include:

Leo Osborne of Queensbury. A former Marine with more than 20 years of experience in the construction trade, Osborne enrolled in the Construction Technology program in 2004, after deciding that he "reached my ceiling" working as a carpenter's union representative. The 46-year-old wanted to go back to the construction field that he missed, but this time as a manager.

"I knew I had to upgrade my skills and I figured what better program than Hudson Valley," said Osborne, noting the location, cost and quality of instruction made the college his first choice. "I didn't want to pound nails anymore. I wanted to use my brain."

And use his brain he did (as evidenced by his perfect G.P.A.). His hard work and experience also benefited fellow students, and even faculty members, who found themselves turning to Osborne on occasion to help stress the real-world relevance of the coursework.

"That's been an experience I wouldn't trade for anything," Osborne said. "I enjoy that role, I really do. It's a good role to have – helping others, helping myself in the process."

After graduation, Osborne will take a construction management job at Troy Management Group, a local construction company founded by Hudson Valley alumnus Michael Hart. He also plans to earn a bachelor's degree, and perhaps even a master's.

***

Christopher Foundas of East Greenbush. Like many students graduating high school, Foundas wasn't sure what career path he wanted to pursue and didn't want to spend a lot of money – $20,000 or $30,000 a year – at a four-year college or university finding out.

"Hudson Valley let me keep my options open and evaluate all the choices in life," he said. "The savings was significant: it's like the price of a down payment on a house," he said. "It's a good head start in life: paying off college loans faster, being able to have a life faster."

Foundas, who is 19, will graduate with a Business Administration degree, and now knows where his life is headed: he plans on studying business and technology management at Clarkson University, with a specialization in project management.

"(My Hudson Valley experience) really helped me develop as a person, meeting different people from different walks of life and different backgrounds and different places in their life," he added.

***

Corinne Corey of Troy. Already a Hudson Valley alumna who also has a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University at Albany, Corey considered being a dentist, but two years ago, decided to re-enroll at Hudson Valley in the Dental Hygiene program.

She will graduate with a 4.0 and the firm belief that "this program has changed my life for the better. I'm more confident, and it has given me the opportunity to work in the community. My two years here have been the most rewarding, positive, and yes, stressful, experience."

The program is selective and its graduates, successful. In 2005, Hudson Valley's Dental Hygiene graduates enjoyed a 98 percent pass rate on the national licensing exam.

After graduation, the 26-year-old Corey will work as a hygienist, and also hopes to return to Hudson Valley to teach. "As a student, I know how challenging the program is, and I feel that I could give back what I've learned to other students," she added.

Founded in 1953, Hudson Valley Community College is one of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system. It has an enrollment of more than 12,000 students, and it is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining. Hudson Valley has more than 60,000 alumni.


Hudson Valley Community College 2006 Commencement Fact Sheet

  • This is the 52nd Commencement ceremony.

  • Approximately 1,700 graduates are eligible to participate in today's commencement ceremony; 359 students are graduating with honors, which means that they have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 at the end of the semester prior to graduation (the Fall 2005 semester, for those students graduating in May 2006).

  • Once they have graduated, the Class of 2006 will join the ranks of more than 60,000 Hudson Valley alumni – more people than live in the city of Troy. It's estimated that a quarter of a million people have taken a course (credit or non-credit) at the college at some time during its history.

  • Alumni are nurses, police officers, auto technicians, social workers, bank presidents, Web designers, civil engineers, architects, teachers, accountants, paramedics and dental hygienists, to name a few professions.

  • Approximately half of all graduates will transfer to another college or university; the other half will join the workforce.

  • Most Hudson Valley graduates transfer to University at Albany, The College of Saint Rose, Siena College and Russell Sage College.

  • Graduates today range in age from 18 to 66. The oldest is a graduate will receive an EMT-Paramedic certificate.

General College Information

  • The college has four schools: Business, Health Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Industrial Technologies. They have been awarded degrees in more than 60 different areas of study – from mortuary science and dental hygiene to automotive technology and accounting.

  • The college's president, Andrew J. "Drew" Matonak, celebrated his first anniversary at the college on April 18 of this year. He is the sixth president, following Otto Guenther (1953-1965), James Fitzgibbons (1965-1979), Joseph Bulmer (1979-1996), Stephen Curtis (1996-1998) and John Buono (1998-2004). Buono was a 1968 graduate of the college.

  • Hudson Valley ranks among the top 3 percent among the country's more than 1,500 community colleges in the number of degrees conferred annually. The college's Criminal Justice program also is one of the most productive in the country, annually graduating approximately 100 students.

  • Hudson Valley Community College has a $360 million annual economic impact on Rensselaer County, according to a recent study released by the Capital District Regional Planning Commission.

Demographics

  • Student counties of residence: Albany, 35 percent; Rensselaer, 28 percent; Saratoga, 13 percent; and Schenectady, 11 percent.

  • 87 percent of students come from the Capital Region, and 12 percent come from elsewhere in New York State.

  • The college has a thriving international student community, with students from Romania, France, Ivory Coast, Thailand, Turkey, Korea, Japan, Germany, Poland, Ghana, Guyana, Colombia, Canada and Pakistan to name a few.

  • Graduate breakdown by school: Liberal Arts and Sciences, 49 percent; Business, 22 percent; Engineering and Industrial Technologies, 16 percent; and Health Sciences, 13 percent.

Academic Programs

  • New degree and certificate programs introduced during the past several years include: Forensic Science Studies; Teaching Assistant; Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology.

  • The college also offers 10 degree and certificate programs completely online, including Business Administration, Marketing and Criminal Justice.

  • Hudson Valley's Health Science programs help fuel the health care workforce in the region. The college's Paramedic, Dental Hygiene, Medical Imaging and Respiratory Care programs are the only ones of their kind in the region.

  • The popularity of online education continues to grow: student enrollment in online courses reached nearly 8,000 in the 2004-05 academic year.

  • Another area of enrollment growth is the College in the High School program, which Hudson Valley has offered since 1995. In the past year, enrollment in College in the High School courses has increased 32 percent. This year, 2,764 high school students are enrolled in the courses, compared to 2,087 students during the 2004-05 academic year. The college partners with 28 secondary schools – high schools and Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) sites – throughout the Capital Region to offer the courses.

Faculty/Student Achievement

  • This year's faculty/staff recipients of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence are: Associate Professor Thomas Lail of the Fine Arts Department; Associate Professor Robert Matthews of the Marvin Library staff; Nursing Department Chairperson Dicey O'Malley; College Registrar Kathleen Petley; and Associate Professor Doris Schoonmaker of the Mathematics Department.

  • This year's recipient of the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching is Assistant Professor Rachel Jorden of the English, Modern Languages and English as a Second Language Department.

  • This year's student recipients of the Chancellor's Award for Excellence are: Lori Critcher of Albany (Individual Studies), Wendy Franklin of Greenville (Individual Studies), Heather Rice of Stephentown (Individual Studies), Steven Rosato of Latham (Mathematics and Science), and Carrie Blakesley Snyder of Schenectady (Individual Studies).

Athletic Highlights

  • Hudson Valley freshman Kyle Haines of Altamont won the NJCAA Bowling singles title with a final game of 253. Freshman Kristina Jenkins won the national women's singles title with a 630 triple. The men's bowling team finished third and the women's team second in the team competition.

  • Freshman Katie Wolfe of Colonie earned All-American status by finishing 15th out of 71 competitors at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III Cross Country Championship.

  • Football player Tim Bush of Saratoga, a freshman wide receiver, was recognized as an Honorable Mention All-American.

  • Three Hudson Valley football players received scholarships to play at Division I or Division II institutions next year. They are: Dominic Howard (Indiana State), Lamar Gordon-Holmes (Central Connecticut) and Jamal Harrod (Fort Valley State University).

  • Sophomore forward Jeff Beecher and sophomore defenseman Drew Luther were named All Americans for their performance during the 2005-06 collegiate hockey season.