Commencement 2009

Nearly 900 two-and four-year graduates, their families, professors, and friends were on hand Sunday, May 17, at noon, as Alfred State College honors its 98th graduating class.

Presiding over the ceremony was Dr. John M. Anderson, college president.

The ceremony was held at McLane Center on the neighboring Alfred University campus.

Giving the welcome from students was Adam Nash, a senior in the surveying engineering technology program.  Nash, of Barneveld, is a graduate of Holland Patent High School.  He has been a member of the swim team and the club hockey team at ASC.  He has also held the position of the president of the Surveying Club, president of Braddon Hall Council, Student Senate Student Activities chair, and APB honorary board member. For the past year, he has served as the Student Senate president and co-captain of the club hockey team.

Nash reflected on the students' shared experiences, including gaining new knowledge and making new friends.  In a play on the College's tag line, he also noted that during their time at Alfred State, students have "hit the ground running," running to classes, running after some girl or boy, running ideas by others, and running their own lives.  Now, he said, "continue to build on what you have learned here at Alfred State College and ‘hit your future running.'  It is new and full of promise.  Good luck and congratulations."

President Dr. John M. Anderson, Tracey Parks, and B. Thomas GolisanoThe 2009 student speaker, Tracey Parks, Fillmore, received her associate in applied science degree in nursing at the ceremony.  She is also one of the four Paul B Orvis Award for Excellence winners. This award is presented to the outstanding two-year graduates in each of the college's schools of study, as well as to a baccalaureate graduate. The award honors Paul B. Orvis, a former president of Alfred State and State University of New York dean for two-year colleges.  Recipients must meet four criteria:  service, leadership, character, and scholarship.  Faculty, staff, and fellow students appraise the first three.  Scholarship is determined by an analysis of the student's academic standing in comparison to other students in the academic area. 

Parks is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, a recipient of the Robert J. Love Award, the Hunter Family Scholarship, and a Salvation Army Scholarship.  She has maintained a 4.0 grade point average (out of a possible 4.0).  This non-traditional student (she holds a BA from Houghton College in psychology and art, holds certifications in dispute resolution and heavy equipment operation, and a NYS hairdressing license) worked as a paralegal and serves as a literacy volunteer.  She is the daughter of Hudson and Mary Jane Parks, Caneadea.

In her address, Parks noted that she has used four concepts to achieve her goals and encouraged her classmates to consider using them too:  awareness, purpose, strategy, and courage.

Awareness, she noted, means being in control of your own life, and therefore your own destiny.  Purpose, Parks continued, means finding out what gives meaning to your life and pursuing that path, adding that helping others can be one's most meaningful purpose.  Having a strategy, she said, will help show you how to accomplish your purpose.  Without the courage to put your plans into action, Parks concluded, most goals won't be achieved. 

This year, an honorary doctor of humane letters degree was conferred upon B. Thomas Golisano, a 1962 graduate of Alfred State College, who also addressed the students.

B. Thomas Golisano, a 1962 graduate of Alfred State College, addressed the students."It is no small honor to be asked to speak at a commencement ceremony," he said.  "Especially when that college is your alma mater, and even more so when you are getting such an honor.  I am truly grateful."

Golisano went on to give today's graduates a brief verbal "snapshot" of life when he was a student at Alfred State College:  "you could smoke; grass was something you mowed; coke was a cold drink; and pot was what you cooked in!"

Noting that he had worked for a year between high school and college as a bank teller because his family couldn't afford to send him to college, Golisano said he worked up to his full academic potential when he took his college courses-something he hadn't done in high school. 

Mentioning that small business is the backbone of this country's economy and that 95 percent of companies in the United States have fewer than 100 employees, Golisano encouraged the students to "learn to be self sufficient in this economy."

Noting that there are three types of people:  those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happened, Golisano encouraged the Alfred State graduates to be those folks who make it happen.

Golisano concluded by saying, "Success is measured in many different ways.  Be true to yourself. Find what works for you and go for it, while recognizing your obligation to help others."

Golisano, a self-made billionaire, is widely known for his business acumen, his philanthropy, and his interest in government, particularly that of New York State.

Golisano founded Paychex in 1971 with $3,000 and an idea about how to make payroll outsourcing easy and affordable for small businesses; he is chairman of the Board of the Company. Until October 2004, he served as president and chief executive officer.  Paychex began with one employee and 40 clients. Today, Paychex serves more than 500,000 clients from over 100 locations across the United States and employs more than 12,000 people.

Paychex and Golisano have received numerous national honors over the years. In 2009, the company was recognized for a sixth year by FORTUNE magazine as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in America.   Paychex has also been recognized by Training magazine as one of the top 100 training organizations in the country, FORTUNE has named Paychex one of the most admired companies in the country, and Forbes honored Paychex as one of the best-managed companies in America.

The Irondequoit native is a member of the board of directors of several private companies, and he serves on the board of trustees of the Rochester Institute of Technology. He owns the Buffalo Sabres hockey team and the Buffalo Bandits lacrosse team. Golisano has served as a member of the board of directors of numerous non-profit organizations, and founded the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation in 1986 to provide grants to organizations serving persons with disabilities.

Golisano has also made major donations to leading health care and educational centers. Golisano has also been a major underwriter of former President William Clinton's Global Initiative.

The Alfred State College alumnus has served on the college's Development Fund Board as an honorary member and was a sponsor of the ASC Entrepreneurship Program, established in 1998.

Golisano is a founder of the Independence Party of New York State and has run for governor of New York as that party's candidate three times. In 2008, Golisano formed a PAC called Responsible New York, to support candidates for the New York state legislature. The goal of Responsible New York is to guide true political reform in the state and to return government to the people.

One of the highlights of the ceremony is the presentation of the Paul B. Orvis Award for Excellence, presented to the outstanding two-year graduates in each of the college's schools of study, as well as to a baccalaureate graduate. Honored at the commencement ceremony were:  Parks, Stanislav Sajin, Republic of Moldova, School of Management and Engineering Technology (associate level); Sara K. Berg, Candor, School of Management and Engineering Technology (baccalaureate level); and Brian Ruf, Spencerport, School of Applied Technology.

Stephen B. Richard, an instructor in the Building Trades Department at Alfred State College and pastor of Chenunda Creek Fellowship Church, gave the invocation and benediction.

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