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05/16/2009
Hudson Valley Community College Celebrates 55th Commencement
85 percent of graduates are from the immediate Capital Region Photo Available

CONTACT: Paula Monaco (518) 378-3835 – cell
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Saturday, May 16, 2009

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Hudson Valley Community College celebrated its 55th commencement with 1,779 students eligible to participate. Among the 2009 graduates, 376 achieved honors status – those students who completed their studies with a grade-point average of 3.5 or higher.

More students from the Capital Region graduate from Hudson Valley than any other college in the area. Eighty-five percent of this year's graduates live in one of the four Capital Region counties: Albany County (35 percent); Rensselaer County (28 percent); Saratoga County (15 percent); and Schenectady County (7 percent). Today's graduates join the ranks of Hudson Valley's 65,000 alumni, 84 percent of whom live and work in the Capital Region.

The commencement ceremony, which began at 9 a.m. in the McDonough Sports Complex, was broadcast live on Time Warner Cable Channel 3. Speakers included Andrew J. Matonak, president of Hudson Valley Community; Gregg Lewandusky of Clifton Park, student senate president; Kathy Jimino, Rensselaer County Executive; Neil Kelleher, chairman of the Rensselaer County Legislature; and Robert H. Hill II, chairman of the college's Board of Trustees.

Drew Matonak, president of Hudson Valley Community College told the graduates, "Together we can return our community to an era of economic health and peace. You are better prepared to assume this task than many others – you have marketable skills and relatively low student-loan debt. You have the continued support of this institution and your family and friends."

Members of the Class of 2009 range in age from 17 to 63. The oldest graduate, Daniel Marino of Fort Edward, has earned an Emergency Medical Technician – Paramedic Certificate and one of the youngest, Molly Bauer of Albany, is transferring on to Siena College. In addition, the college will graduate its first class in the following degree programs: Criminal Investigation, Invasive Cardiovascular Technology and Gallery Management.

Typically, half of Hudson Valley's graduates transfer to a four-year college or university after earning their associate degrees. This year, transfer institutions include Cornell, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University at Albany, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, SUNY Canton and Albany College of Pharmacy.

The remaining graduates enter the workforce and have been hired by companies like Verizon, Johnson Controls, Albany Head Start, National Grid, Albany Medical Center, the New York State Dormitory Authority and Lia Toyota, to name a few.

This year, the largest academic departments (by number of graduates) are Individual Studies, 346 graduates; Business Administration, 296 graduates; Criminal Justice, 97 graduates; Liberal Arts, 93 graduates; Computer Information Systems, 67 graduates; Early Childhood Education, 55 graduates; Electrical Construction and Maintenance, 51 graduates; and Nursing, 48 graduates.

The Class of 2009 gift was presented by Student Senate President Gregg Lewandusky. This year's gift will be a digital monitoring system. It will consist of up to eight large flat-screen monitors that will be strategically placed across campus and air video messages. Messages could include schedule of events, class cancellations, emergencies on campus and general weather information. News networks such as CNN will be aired, as well as campus lectures and special events. The intent is to keep the campus community informed of all activities on and off campus.

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 12,500 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 2009 include:

Molly Bauer of Albany At the age of 16, Molly Bauer knew that she needed a different kind of learning environment than the high school she was attending. So in the spring of 2008, Molly came to Hudson Valley and enrolled in the college's 24-credit Hour Program. This program allows students to earn an equivalency diploma while taking college courses. Molly found Hudson Valley to be the right niche for her. She was recently named a recipient of the 2009 Chancellor's Award for Student Excellence. She is a member of the college's Phi Theta Kappa chapter and she also is the president of the college's Animal Outreach Club. Who's Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges has recognized Molly for her many accomplishments on the college campus, which include winning a Service Learning Award and participating in the Circle K and Tour Guide clubs. At the ripe old age of 17, Molly has earned enough credits to graduate today with an associate's degree in Individual Studies. She will transfer in the fall to Siena College where she will pursue a program in pre-medicine.

William Ciampolillo of Schenectady Due to health problems, William Ciampolillo knew he would no longer be able to work in the construction industry. William sought career advice from a business associate who is an engineer for the City of Schenectady. That advice? "Go to Hudson Valley." William hadn't taken classes in years. He was almost 50 years old. On top of that, he was hearing impaired. But he knew he had to do something. So William started out at the Educational Opportunity Center, where he entered the college preparation program. Then in the Fall of 2007, he enrolled in Hudson Valley's Architectural Technology program. He attributes his success to the services offered by the college's Disability Resource Center and to the support of faculty and staff. William would like to find a job in drafting and hopes to one day soon earn his bachelor's and master's degree to become an architect. But William's favorite thing about Hudson Valley was sitting next to his 29-year-old son in some of his classes.

Vito Fortino of Ticonderoga Vito Fortino is graduating from Electrical Construction and Maintenance this year. When he heard about the chance of a job working for GE Wind, on those 285-foot tall wind turbines, he decided that a Wind Technician job is what he wanted. He investigated how to improve his chances. He then borrowed books from various faculty in other fields, such as hydraulics and braking systems, and asked for some help in the areas that the ECM course doesn't cover. He spent all of his spare time studying and preparing for the employment tests. Well, the hard work paid off! Vito went down to Texas over spring break, easily passed all of the tests, and he was offered a job last week. He will be starting in Sweetwater, Texas the first week of June and will be back in the Capital Region at GE Wind for more training.

(Robert) Nathan Knowles of Buskirk As a single parent and self-employed musician, Nathan Knowles had numerous excuses not to go to college. "I'm too old; I don't have a high school diploma; and math and science scare me" – were just a few of them. But after years of nudging from close friend and Hudson Valley adjunct professor Virginia Dersch, Nathan returned to school. Through the college's 24-credit program, he earned his GED and today is graduating with a degree in Individual Studies. Nathan is going to pursue his bachelor's degree and wants to continue his work with Alzheimer's patients. He currently holds musical therapy sessions for Alzheimer's patients in the Veterans' Hospital in Vermont. During his time at Hudson Valley, Nathan was named to the Dean's and President's lists and received numerous departmental honors. His goal is to earn his doctoral degree and to teach at the college level.

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

Remarks by Student Senate President Gregg Lewandusky '09

Commencement Program
Graduates listed reflect those whose names were submitted by April 15, 2009.


Commencement Remarks to the 2009 Graduating Class of Hudson Valley Community College
Delivered by Student Senate President Gregg Lewandusky
Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thank you, President Matonak, Chairman Hill, distinguished guests of the platform party, students and guests. I stand here today privileged to have served as Hudson Valley Community College Student Senate President.

I think everyone here will be proud to hear that the senate this year was the largest and most diverse on record to date. We achieved a lot and hopefully the students and the campus have benefited from our efforts.

A few of the things we accomplished; the student voice was heard, and the Faculty Student Association started renovation on a new sports locker room, which, if anyone can remember from one year before, was in extreme need of repair.

Hopefully every student took advantage of our Coffee House Showcases where, on Thursdays, we would give out free pizza and have entertainment, sometimes giving students a much needed break from classes.

We had an amazing fall fest, and for the first time had a live band perform at our outdoor event. This past Spring Fest we had over two thousand students attend to enjoy two live musical groups, carnival games and rides, free food and more.

The Student Senate sponsored safe, affordable trips for students to New York City, Boston, Montreal, and Cancun, Mexico. The Senate went to leadership conferences this academic year in Nashville, Tennessee, and Orlando, Florida.

This year’s class gift is a donation of $45,000 to the college for a project that will install a digital monitoring system in common areas around campus. It will consist of up to eight large flat screen monitors, the software to run them and the installation. This will allow students to see highlights from numerous Hudson Valley activities such as: sports games; a play by the theater club; speakers and lectures; and even senate meetings. It will also air a schedule of events, messages about class cancellations and emergencies on campus and general weather information. News networks such as CNN will also run.

With the televisions around campus, it is our hope that future students will have a better understanding of the campus and events, instilling a sense of community amongst students across campus from Williams, to McDonough, to Brahan.

But none of this could have been done alone. I’d like to thank the student senate. Being the largest and most diverse, made meetings long and debate tough. But because of that we made all action meaningful and legitimate.

Thank you to my e-board with special thanks to the treasurer Kurtis O’Brian. Thank you Susan Smith, Alfredo Balarin, club advisors and clubs, Brendan, Lin Lin, Frank the 3rd, my mom and my grandmother, Teresa Lewandusky, though she has passed she is still a part of every decision I make around campus.

Special thanks to Mr. Coplin, Ann Carrozza, Dr. Popovics and the FSA Board. Without each of the individuals I have just named I believe we would have not been able to reach everything we have today.

I consider myself to be very lucky; lucky to have worked with great friends and mentors, and to have served as Student Senate President. I believe that luck is part timing and part opportunity. I believe that everyone here graduating today is extremely lucky. All of us had the opportunity to come to Hudson Valley, with some of us being older, some of us younger this was the right time in our lives to complete the challenge. I think that it’s an important thing to remember, when faced with an opportunity, and having the timing to make it happen and not just let it slip away. With that being said I know there are many opportunities and obstacles that await us after today. I hope that it’s the right time for you to accomplish whatever it may be. I wish you luck and congratulations. Thank you.