SUNY Canton celebrated the class of 2019 at the college’s 111th Commencement Ceremony held Saturday, May 11, at the Roos House Convocation, Athletic and Recreation Center.
SUNY Canton College Council Chair Ronald M. O’Neill, class of 1963, opened the ceremony by asking the graduates to reflect on the memories and lifelong friendships they have made.
“I hope that as you move forward in your lives and careers, you will not only remember this day, but remember all those remarkable people who helped you along the way,” he said.
SUNY Canton President Zvi Szafran noted this year’s class comprises nearly 900 graduates who range in age from 18 to 63 years old and represent 22 U.S. states and 6 foreign countries, including Australia, Cameroon, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
He then introduced two graduates who earned outstanding graduate awards: Andrew P. Fitch, a Mechanical Engineering Technology major from Australia, and Tia M. Tassava, a Management major from Chubbuck, Idaho. Ashley J. Livingston, a Civil and Environmental Engineering Technology major from Lisbon, was also recognized as the winner of the David R. Maynard Student Activities Award.
Student Government Association President Brayden S. White gave the senior class address, noting the college’s commitment to its motto “everyone is welcome here.”
“Diversity, equity and inclusion are not just buzzwords; they are woven into the fabric of campus life, and because of that our education is holistically complete, which prepares us to go out and make a difference,” he said.
The keynote address was delivered by alumnus and retired Major General Fergal I. Foley, class of 1980.
Foley, who earned an associate degree in Business Management and was commissioned as a second lieutenant from the ROTC program, said he owed much of his success to the college.
“SUNY Canton was a solid foundation for me, and my degree has been instrumental throughout my career. My experience was certainly a factor in building my confidence to take risks.”
He served in the New York Army National Guard from 1982 until 2006, during which time his assignments included deputy commander and chief of staff for Joint Task Force “Operation World Trade Center” after 9/11. He has returned to campus several times to talk to students about his experiences.
Foley told the audience that graduation should signify a new chapter in their relationship with the college.
“When you cross the stage, it’s not the end—it’s a transition. You are part of this SUNY Canton family for life. I recommend remaining connected with alumni affairs to take advantage of all the great services and keeping in touch with your classmates. And if I can ever be of service to help you, I will. We’re all family now, and that’s what families do—we take care of each other.”
Upon presenting Foley with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, Szafran noted his “outstanding service to the nation, state and SUNY Canton.”
As the degrees were conferred, Foley and the President of the Alumni Board of Directors Kelly C. Obermayer, class of 1979, welcomed each graduate into the alumni family by presenting them with a special medallion.
The top five bachelor’s degrees awarded, in order of popularity, were Health Care Management, Criminal Investigation, Management, Nursing and Homeland Security.
The top five associate degrees awarded, in order of popularity, were Nursing, Criminal Justice, Veterinary Science Technology, Individual Studies and Liberal Arts.
Additionally, graduates from the college’s one and two-year Nursing programs were recognized at special pinning ceremonies held earlier in the week.
About SUNY Canton
SUNY Canton is Northern New York’s premier college for career-driven bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and professional certificate programs. The college delivers quality hands-on programs in digital design, engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. As SUNY’s leader in online education, SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as 18 online degree programs. The college placed first in 14 categories in a SUNY-Wide Student Opinion Survey, most notably in career services, tutoring, library resources, and classroom facilities. The college’s 15 traditional athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division III level as part of the North Atlantic Conference. SUNY Canton also offers varsity esports and cheerleading.