December 21, 2021

SUNY Empire State College Honors Winter Class of 2021

This Year's Graduates Live in 61 Counties Across New York State

(ALBANY, NY, December 19, 2021) — SUNY Empire State College celebrated the winter class of 2021 with a commencement ceremony on Sunday, December 19 at the Empire State Plaza in Albany.

Members of the SUNY Empire class of 2021 collectively live in 61 different New York state counties, in 35 U.S. states and territories, and in 30 countries around the world.

The ceremony featured two student speakers, Nicole Huasta of Schroon Lake, NY, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in human development, and Willlijah Dawson of Yorkville, NY, who received a Bachelor of Professional Studies and is working toward her MBA at SUNY Empire.

Four SUNY Empire alumni were recognized with alumni awards: Keith Amparado '88, Distinguished Leader Award; William Serino '17, Emerging Leader Award; Brenda Muhammad '14, '15, Community Impact Award; and Chief Warrant Officer Douglas Brian Sherman '17, Veteran Service Award.

SUNY Empire Officer in Charge Dr. Nathan Gonyea awarded the SUNY Empire State College Heritage Award, a special honor given on milestone occasions to a member of the college community who has exhibited distinguished service, enduring impact, and a forward-looking vision for what the college might become. This year's recipient is Dr. James Hall, founding president of SUNY Empire State College. 

All attendees were required to wear masks and submit proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours of the event. 

SUNY Empire State College Officer in Charge Dr. Nathan Gonyea said, "Being a busy adult learner with responsibilities at home, at work, and in the community is a test of strength and spirit in the best of times. The fact that our students earned their degrees — through all the chaos and disruption — demonstrates their resilience and determination to pursue their personal and professional goals no matter what life throws their way. If they can summon the willpower and fortitude to complete their degrees during a global pandemic, they can do anything they put their minds to."

SUNY Empire State College student speaker Nicole Huasta said, “SUNY Empire has quite literally been along with me on a journey of healing, learning to be the sole provider and head of a household, and learning to find and use my voice. But what SUNY Empire has also given me is a foundational opportunity that is changing life for me and my son.”