Alfred State Holds 101st Commencement

Friends, families, and fellow students celebrated as over 500 Alfred State graduates participated in commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 13, 2012. Dr. John M. Anderson, college president, presided over the event at the McLane Center on nearby Alfred University’s campus. The theme of this year’s commencement was centered on Campaign 101, a partnership between Alfred State and two community shelters, providing veterinary technology students with hands-on experience and civic engagement while supporting community organizations.

Welcoming the audience on behalf of the students was AJ La Mere of Rochester, NY, chair of the Alfred State Student Senate. La Mere is also on the Auxiliary Campus Enterprises and Services (ACES) Board of Directors, head resident assistant in Peet Hall, and a member of the Alfred Community Coalition.

Michael StarrThis year’s student speaker was Michael Starr of Tonawanda, NY. He received his associate degree in computer information systems and a bachelor’s degree in information technology: network administration. A dean’s list student for all eight semesters and member of Phi Theta Kappa, Starr has served as a resident assistant, head resident assistant, and interim residence director in MacKenzie North, as an IT Peer Tutor, and as a student instructor during his time at Alfred State.

Reflecting on his own experiences, Starr remarked “As we look back at the decisions we've made over the past few years, it’s hard not to ask ourselves if we've made the right choices… [but] I can say with the utmost confidence that Alfred has played a great role in shaping who I am today, and I wouldn't change a thing. … As we graduate and say goodbye, ready for the next part of our journey, let’s all hit the ground running.”

Dr. Stephen L. ZawistowskiKeynote speaker for the ceremony was Dr. Stephen L. Zawistowski, executive vice president, national programs and science adviser, for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in New York City. He joined the ASPCA in 1988 as vice president of education, and is also a certified applied animal behaviorist. Zawistowski was named Psychologist of the Year in 1989 by Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and received a Public Service Award from the Department of Justice in 2008 for his work on the Michael Vick dogfighting case. He also currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, adjunct assistant professor with the animal behavior and conservation program at Hunter College, and as an adjunct faculty member in the graduate program in anthrozoology at Canisius College.

Zawistowski graduated from Canisius College in 1977 with his bachelor’s in biology, and went on to University of Illinois to complete his master’s in 1979 and his doctorate in 1983. He was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship in environmental biology by the National Science Foundation in late 1983.

He reminded graduates that, between them and others at Alfred State, over 101 lives were saved in Campaign 101. “That is part of your legacy,” he remarked. “Five, 10, and 25 years from now when you gather for reunions, will you be able to add to that number? … This will be your challenge. One hundred and one is a start; you have a lifetime to make it grow.”

U.S. Sen. Charles SchumerAlfred State was also honored by a visit from U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, who remarked that Alfred State is “one of our best schools in all of New York.” After reading from the encouraging poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling, Schumer encouraged the graduates to be bold and dream big, saying that “If there was ever a time to reach for a dream … now is it!”

The presentation of the Paul B. Orvis Award for Excellence, awarded to outstanding two-year graduates from each of the college’s schools of study as well as to a baccalaureate graduate, was a highlight of the ceremony. 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 the criteria of service, leadership, character, and scholarship.

Honored at the ceremony were:

Chelcy Warner of Wellsville, NY, was selected as the baccalaureate recipient for the School of Arts and Sciences and received her bachelor’s degree in human services management. Warner has been on dean’s list every semester, and is a member of both the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and Psi Beta National Honor Society in Psychology. Her leadership and service roles include: resident assistant and head resident assistant at MacKenzie South; peer tutor; Academic Integrity Committee Student Member; member of Students Organized for Service; and a member of the Japanese earthquake relief team. Warner is also a member of the National Organization for Human Services.

Benjamin Knopf of Bloomfield, NY, was the associate degree recipient for the School of Applied Technology. He received his degree in building trades: building construction. A 2010 recipient of the President’s Scholarship, Knopf has also served as the Wellsville campus representative to the Student Senate, president of Newman Club, treasurer and member of Chorus, and the treasurer of the Kaleidoscope Coalition. Knopf is involved with community service, volunteering at a local soup kitchen and participating in the fall 2011 Binghamton relief trip and the summer 2011 Haiti relief trip.

Marlene Cocchetto of Arkport, NY, who received her associate degree in nursing, was chosen as the School of Arts and Sciences associate-degree recipient. Cocchetto earned her associate degree in human services from Alfred State in 1996 and her family development credentials in 2002. During her time at Alfred, she participated in Students Involved in Community Action, was a peer tutor, a supplemental instructor in nursing, and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Cocchetto has received several notable awards, including the Outstanding Human Services Alumni Award, Outstanding Student Award (Human Services), and the Professional Nurses District 3 Award.

Katiemarie Puntoriero of Buffalo, NY, was selected as the School of Architecture, Management and Engineering Technology’s recipient. She received her associate degree in court and realtime reporting. A member of Phi Theta Kappa and the Business Professionals of America, Puntoriero has been part of the honor’s program, on dean’s list for four semesters, tutored freshmen court reporting students, and has received the Outstanding Student Award and the Traci D. Williams-Walker Court Reporting Award.

The Alfred State Men’s Quartet performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Alfred State alma mater during the ceremony, and other musical interludes featured the return of female trio Red Molly to Alfred State. Students and faculty were led out in recessional to the music of the Gates Keystone Police Pipes and Drums.

View more pictures of Commencement 2012.