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Over 400 SUNY Schenectady Graduates – The Daily Gazette

SCHENECTADY – Resilience.

That’s the word used Friday morning to describe the more than 400 graduating students from SUNY Schenectady County Community College.

“Not even COVID, with all its variants, could stop you,” opening speaker Dr Anna Katema-Banda told the audience. “Come on class of 2022, you passed.”

One of the students to receive their associate degree was Dravid Daniel Seecharran, who was the voice of the student population as a student representative on the college’s board of trustees. Seecharran, a US Marine Corps reservist from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 49 in Newburgh, earned his degree in business administration.

As a student representative on the board, the job is to listen to student concerns and then share those concerns with the college board and administration, Seecharran said.

This work has never meant more than during the pandemic, said Seecharran, who found ways to make sure students’ concerns were heard, while providing them with some semblance of fun.

“During the pandemic, most classes were online and there weren’t a lot of activities on campus,” he said.

But, Seecharran said he found ways to provide students with virtual entertainment such as online bingo nights or chess tournaments by working with the Student Government Association’s student activities council.

When COVID regulations ceased and the college reopened, Seecharran stayed true to his role as a student representative, including expressing student frustration with the college’s initial decision to hold a graduation ceremony.

“It’s amazing,” Seecharran said of the ceremony.

Seecharran’s efforts earned him the distinction of being named the college’s student of the year. He said he would celebrate with his fellow reservists.

“I have drills this weekend,” said Seecharran, originally from Guyana, who moved to the United States four years ago and joined the military soon after.

In the fall, he plans to attend the University of Albany. He wonders whether or not he should study aviation, business or something in finance. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree again in two years, he plans to re-enlist in the army to become an officer.

But Seecharran, who calls Schenectady and SUNY Schenectady home, said he would find a way in the future to give back to the college — perhaps by creating a scholarship, he said.

“Dravid has done an excellent job as a student administrator,” said Ray Gillen, administrator and chairman of the Metroplex Development Authority. “He was a strong voice for the student body and he has a great career ahead of him. We thank him for his service.

As students like Seecharran have found ways to help students through the pandemic, the college has also become innovative, President Steady Moono wrote after the ceremony.

“For example, culinary arts students who normally learned in a face-to-face kitchen lab space, transitioned to a faculty that developed a hands-on experience in which they provided students with ingredient packages and utensils kitchen so students can do labs at home. , following teacher-created videos and live classroom demonstrations,” Moono said in an emailed statement. “Outside of the classroom, advisors, success coaches and tutors continued to support students remotely and on campus and throughout the period students were able to access essential support such as pantry, laptop loans and mentorship.”

Moono joined the graduates in excitement as he asked them to move their tassels from right to left, with the final moment of the ceremony signaling that they had graduated.

“Let this moment be a moment you will always cherish,” Moono said.

This year’s promotion also included a mother and son, Davetta Simmons and Jason Gibbs. who graduated together. The youngest graduate was 16-year-old Rowan Breen, who received a certificate in music, according to the college. The oldest graduate was David MacLeod, 68, who earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in music audio technology, according to the college. There were graduates from Guyana and China, as well as 22 surrounding counties. Eight military veterans also graduated, Moono said. The graduating class average grade point average was 3.06.

Katema-Banda told graduates that they should be intentional in everything they do and want in life.

“Intentional with your associations,” she said. “Intentional with the places you frequent. Accidental success does not exist. The key to your success is in your hands, so use it wisely.

Here’s what other graduates had to say about taking the step:

Tiffany Baker, 38, of Schenectady earned an associate’s degree in applied science for criminal justice. She currently works as an assistant manager at Living Resources. She was thrilled to become the first in her family to graduate from college, she said, especially after putting it on hold over the years to care for her children.

“It’s a big moment for us,” she said, noting that she didn’t even take the stage to graduate from high school.

Patrick Burns of Staten Island earned an Associate of Applied Science degree for Biological Technician. Burns said he was considering what to do next, but may seek employment with a biotech company to gain work skills before deciding to continue his education.

“I want to use the work environment to determine what I’m good at,” he said.

A veteran who served in the US Navy from 2003 to 2007, Burns said graduation was “a long time coming”.

Shalini Misra, 47, lives in Glenville but is from India. She earned her Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Information Systems. She is currently a programmer in the Department of Motor Vehicles. She said it was a bit difficult to go online during the pandemic for classes, but she managed. Misra graduated as a part-time student in 3.5 years.

“I’m thrilled,” she said of her graduation.

Jahzara Fossett, 17, of Schenectady, earned an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences: Humanities and Social Sciences. She will be heading to Temple University in August to pursue a degree in Computer Science and Information Technology. Fossett said she aspires to one day work for the company that produces the Sims video game.

“It was stressful, but it feels good now,” said Fossett, who was part of the college’s Smart Transfer program.

Smart Transfer is a partnership between SUNY Schenectady, University of Albany, SUNY Delhi, and Schenectady High School, where students apply in eighth grade to take courses to earn an associate’s degree from college while still in high school .

Fossett said she couldn’t have graduated without her family by her side.

“I appreciate you guys,” she said.

Christopher Stawarz, 19, of Clifton Park graduated with an associate of science degree for criminal justice. Stawarz said he will continue his studies at SUNY Delhi where he will study for a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He aspires to one day become a New York State Trooper, he said.

“I’m not the person who works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” he says.

Rossana Russell, 24, lives in Schenectady after leaving Jamaica three years ago. She earned an Associate of Science degree for Liberal Arts and Science: Math and Science. Russell said she was still figuring out what she wanted to do next. While at SUNY Schenectady, she juggled a full-time job and going to school full-time until her final semester, when she cut her hours.

“It was hard, but I made it,” she said.

Graduating, she said, was a “great achievement.”

Deanna Amore-Mies, 48, of Glenville graduated with an associate degree in work science for culinary arts.

“I have a job scheduled at a local bakery in Saratoga Springs,” she said.

She couldn’t say where, but it starts on June 1. She said it was hard to learn during the pandemic and then for a semester with a broken foot.

“We really pushed,” she said.

Journalist Shenandoah Brière can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette.

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