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David M. Henahan, director of communications
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June 1, 2012

SUNY Empire State College to Host Annual Graduation Ceremony for Central New York

(SYRACUSE, N.Y.) SUNY Empire State College will host its annual graduation ceremony for the Central New York region at 4 p.m., Saturday, June 2, at the John H. Mulroy Civic Center. 

The center will graduate 270 students, four of whom will serve as student speakers: Hon. Sam Roberts, First Sergeant James L. Bryant, Heidi Feyl-Crane and Michelle Cooper. 

They are among the more than 3,300 graduates from the college's record-setting class of 2012.

Remarks on behalf of the college will be provided by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Meg Benke and center Dean Nikki Shrimpton.

“Sharing the happiness, pride and satisfaction with our graduates, their families and friends and the talented, dedicated faculty mentors and staff who support them is always a wonderful experience,” said Benke. “The college is a community of learners in an open-education model and graduation is the best demonstration of our collective success and the Power of SUNY. I congratulate all the graduates and commend the faculty and staff for their successful efforts.”

The college serves more than 2,200 students in the Central New York region and has more than 6,000 alumni living in the area.

"For our students graduation is not just a day that marks the completion of a degree, but often the culmination of a life time of work, and the realization of, at times, abandoned dreams. It is simply a wonderful day," said Shrimpton.

"The School for Graduate Studies is proud of all 201 graduates across the state this year.  Our pride is dual in that given our service to working professionals, not only have our students succeeded academically, but so many of them have advanced in their careers as a result of completing their degrees." noted Robert J. Clougherty, Jr., Ph.D., dean of the School for Graduate Studies

More information about the graduating class of 2012 is available here.

About Hon. Sam Roberts

The Hon. Sam Roberts was elected to the New York State Assembly, 119th district, in November 2011, and represents parts of the city of Syracuse and the towns of DeWitt, Onondaga and Salina.

Roberts will graduate with a B.S. in labor studies.   

Roberts also served as an Onondaga County legislator from 1990-1999. Roberts grew up on the east side of Syracuse and has garnered a solid reputation for his commitment to community activism and public service in Central New York.

A  35-year member of the United Auto Workers union, Roberts is a retiree of General Motors where he worked as a journeyman tool and die maker for 30 years, and was elected recording secretary of UAW Local Union #465 and chair of Local Union #854’s education and civil rights committees.

Staying committed to the people, he  served as Onondaga County legislator while employed at General Motors. For five terms he represented Onondaga County’s 19th legislative district, supporting legislation important to his constituents.

Highly skilled in labor relations, he has earned an associate degree from Onondaga Community College and a certificate in labor studies from Cornell University. Roberts also holds a sixth-degree black belt in American Shotokan karate. He ranked No. 1 in New York and New Jersey, top 10 in the United States and Canada and was the winner of the world championships prior to retirement from competition.

About First Sergeant James L. Bryant

First Sergeant James L. Bryant was born in Baltimore, Md.  He graduated from Pikesville High School in May 1998 and entered the United States Army shortly thereafter. He graduated from communication training at Fort Gordon, Ga. as a signal support system specialist. 

Bryant has an associate degree in general studies through Central Texas Community College and will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management.

Bryant’s stateside tours have included Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Stewart, Ga., Fort Knox, Ky; and Fort Drum, N.Y.. He has deployed to Korea, Kuwait (Operation Enduring Freedom), Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom I and III) and Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom 10-11).

Bryant’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (2 Oak Leaf Cluster), Meritorious Service Medal (1 Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Commendation Medal (4 Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Achievement Medal (2 Oak Leaf Cluster), President Unit Citation Award, Meritorious Unit Citation Award, Good Conduct Medal (fourth medal), National Defense Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal (one campaign star) Iraq Campaign Medal (two campaign stars), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 3), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (Numeral 3), NATO Medal, 17 certificates of achievements Drill Sergeant Identification Badge, Combat Action Badge, Air Assault Identification Badge, Driver Badge (track and wheel) and The Order of Saint Maurice Legionnaire Medal from the National Infantry Association.

About Heidi Feyl–Crane

Heidi Feyl-Crane of Camillus currently works for the Syracuse City School District at Grant Middle School. Feyle-Crane has educated urban students in seventh and eighth grades for more than two years in general science,  in an inclusion setting, and has been recognized for her outstanding teaching with a national award from Office Max. She also has been part of NEED, a national energy grant that brings the importance of energy conservation directly to middle-school students.

Feyl-Crane holds a B.A. in biology from the college and an A.A.S. in dental hygiene from Onondaga Community College and will graduate with her Master of Arts in Teaching.

While attending SUNY Empire State College she has worked to establish the college as a viable institute of higher education within the Syracuse City School District. For the past two years she has been selected to serve on the dean for graduate studies' dean's advisory board for graduate students.

Prior to entering the teaching field she was a dental hygiene professional and has held her New York dental-hygiene license for 15 years. She was an adjunct instructor for SUNY Canton teaching dental ethics and law, dental radiology and dental hygiene clinical practice.

About Michelle Cooper

Michele Cooper was born in Syracuse and now lives in Liverpool. She will earn her B.A. in cultural studies with a concentration in communications and writing. In recent years, Cooper also earned a gold medal at the U.S. Adult National Figure Skating Championships.

Cooper is a nationally published newspaper and magazine journalist and editor as well as a corporate writer and editor. She also has served as a presenter at state and national conferences about the education and transportation rights of homeless students.

Cooper currently works as a freelance writer and editor, and plans to continue at Empire State College to pursue her master’s degree in liberal studies with a concentration in communications. Her goals include working as a freelance business consultant and teaching.

She is the mother of three sons and has five grandchildren.

About SUNY Empire State College

SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 to offer adult learners the opportunity to earn associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career. Students engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to learn at the time, place and pace they choose.

The college serves more than 20,000 students worldwide at more than 35 locations in New York state and online. Its 63,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

More information about the college is available here.

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