SUNY Empire State College Class of 2016
By Suzanne Lazar, student, SUNY Empire State College; editor, The Student Connection
March 10, 2016
From a student population of approximately 5,000 in SUNY Empire’s inaugural group in 1971, to the present population of around 20,000, the growth each year in the graduating classes has climbed. This past commencement celebrated the graduations of approximately 3,300 students earning associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as many undergraduate and graduate certificates. Ceremonies were held from Buffalo to Long Island, marking SUNY Empire State College’s 44th annual commencement.
SUNY Empire locations participated in recognizing students for reaching their educational goal and, in keeping with the college’s longstanding tradition, graduate and undergraduate students provided commencement remarks at each of the college’s eight events. This year’s student speakers were:
- Barbara Burgett, 45, Williamsville, N.Y., Master of Arts in Teaching
- Norma Rosa, 48, North Tonawanda, N.Y., Bachelor of Science in Business, Management and Economics
- Nichole Lent, 31, Cortland, N.Y., Bachelor of Science in Community and Human Services
- Rebecca Reese, 30, Jordan, N.Y., Bachelor of Science in Community and Human Services
- Matthew Krzyston, 42, Delhi, N.Y., Master of Arts in Social and Public Policy
- Kim Russell, 50, Metairie, La., Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
- Rosalyn Rodriguez, 48, Brewster, N.Y., Bachelor of Science in Business, Management and Economics
- Eileen Sullivan, 60, Somers, N.Y., Bachelor of Science in Business, Management and Economics
- Joshua Cohen, 39, Henrietta, N.Y., Bachelor of Arts in Human Development
- Eric Schultz, 44, LeRoy, N.Y., Bachelor of Arts in Social Science
- Michael Bailey, 26, Manhattan, Bachelor of Science in Business, Management and Economics
- Lorraine Pippins, 49, Brooklyn, N.Y., Bachelor of Arts in Community and Human Services
Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies, NYC
- Hana Georg, 28, Brooklyn, N.Y., an apprentice with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3
- Robert Gouldsbury, Centereach, N.Y., an apprentice with the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry Local 1.
- Stefanie Bruemmer, 44, Miller Place, N.Y., Bachelor of Science in Business, Management and Economics
- Christopher Tarello, 39, Islip, N.Y., Bachelor of Science in Community and Human Services.
The adult learning environment at SUNY Empire State College provides students with so much support and flexibility that students become extremely enthusiastic and inspired, often encouraging a friend or family member to follow. In the 2016 commencement, several family members graduated together:
In the early ’90s, Mario Salvati, 62, a recording engineer/producer with more than 40 years of experience, decided “to ease off the studio life and teach the next generations.” He received his Bachelor of Arts in The Arts from SUNY Empire State College as part of the Class of 2016 in the Hudson Valley region at the PepsiCo Theater in Purchase, N.Y. Joining Salvati at graduation was his daughter, Sarah Harman, 38, a photographer who has completed her Bachelor of Science in Business, Management and Economics at SUNY Empire. She holds an Associate in Arts from Sullivan County Community College. Read more: Mario Salvati
Husband and wife Renee and P. Shane McAfee, of Greece, N.Y., graduated together in the Class of 2016 from SUNY Empire State College at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center in Greece, NY. Renee received her Master of Arts in Social and Public Policy, with an advanced certification in nonprofit management. Shane graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a concentration in organizational communications. Daughter Brianna Cansdale, 24, a new mother and a SUNY Empire student herself, attended the ceremony with their three other children and grandson.Read more: Renee and Shane McAfee
Mother and daughter, Migdalia Crego and Sandra Barkevich are members of the 2016 graduating class. Both walked in the commencement ceremony at Empire State Plaza in Albany, N.Y. Barkevich an, Amsterdam, N.Y. native, who already had earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Economics in 2013, now has earned a Master of Arts in Learning and Emerging Technologies, while her mother, Crego, also from Amsterdam, has earned her Associate in Science in Community and Human Services. Read more: Sandra Barkevich
Travis Brown, 27, who holds an associate degree from the college in Human Development, received his bachelor’s degree in the same area. He joined mother and stepfather, Rick and Christina Pearson, to make a family of alumni. Rick, 62, graduated from Empire State College in 2009 with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. Christina, 52, earned her associate degree in 2010 in Business, Management and Economics and her Bachelor of Arts in Community and Human Services in 2012. Read more: Webster Empire State Graduates Cheer on Graduating Son
For more about each commencement speaker, go to Commencement 2016.