Nine hundred students are members of the Class of 2017.
HOPEWELL — There are now 900 more Finger Lakes Community College graduates.
The college’s 49th annual commencement was held Saturday afternoon at Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center, or CMAC. College President Robert K. Nye and Dr. Rodney C. Haring, a 1995 FLCC grad, were among the speakers.
Haring is a research faculty member at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo. He spoke at length about his relationship with the school and the “additional meaning” of the college, given its location in “the ancestral homelands of Seneca peoples." Haring, who is an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation, spoke of finding courage to continue with his academic studies while residing and studying within the Canandaigua area, “knowing that some of my ancestors traversed the very same countryside.”
Haring also discussed lacrosse and the significance the sport held for him and Native Americans in the region, as the origin of “education and diversity.” Haring shared an abbreviated story about lacrosse, focusing on a match between four-legged animals and birds, which led to the creation of the flying squirrel and the bat, helping the birds to win the game.
The moral of the story?
“No matter how small, how unique, however long, no matter how fast, how slow, how good someone is at biology, not so good at chemistry, better at music, better in environmental study or theater, we all contribute in our own way,” Haring said. “Our society cannot move forward without the diverse mindsets, diverse talents, diverse thinking.”
Of the 900 graduates in the class, 450 were expected to attend the ceremony, according to Lenore Friend, the college’s director of public relations and community affairs.
For those who did attend, however; the experience was gratifying, if bittersweet.
New grad Beverly Bacon said she’ll miss the professors and friends she made while attending school. Bacon now is debating nursing or veterinary studies, something that came as a “recent decision” after a class she took at the college, she said.
Classmate Brittney Archibald also plans to continue her education — after taking a semester off — with plans of getting into the dental program at SUNY Brockport.
Archibald, who has a son, was one of many adult students among this graduating class.
Nye, who holds a doctorate in public administration from the University of Kansas, made note of several highly esteemed graduates. Among them were Russell Jackson and Katy Tumbiolo, both of whom received Outstanding Adult Student Awards from the Rochester Area Colleges Continuing Education Association on April 27.
Nye mentioned several students, but Tumbiolo’s story garnered a significant amount of applause, given her ability to persevere throughout her educational career at FLCC.
Tumbiolo, a mother of four, “opened her home to her sister’s three children, after her sister passed away,” Nye said. “And then, while juggling the demands of family, and the challenging nursing program we have, she battled breast cancer. And during treatment, she missed a few classes, but she managed to keep her grades up and today, she graduates.”
After the applause and cheers died down, Nye closed out the anecdote with a simple statement: “That is incredible determination.”