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SUNY JCC Celebrates Classes Of 2020, 2021

SUNY Jamestown Community College graduates received their diplomas in person on Saturday at the Cattaraugus County Campus and on Sunday at the Jamestown Campus. A virtual ceremony also aired on Friday.

Using a unique format of both in-person and virtual celebrations, SUNY Jamestown Community College honored graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Donning caps and gowns, graduates accompanied by their families lined the college’s two campuses on Saturday and Sunday to receive their degrees and certificates in-person after an academic year of mostly hybrid instruction.

Seventy-eight graduates from the Cattaraugus County Campus were recognized in Olean, N.Y. on Saturday, while 232 were recognized on the Jamestown Campus on Sunday. Degrees were presented by Daniel T. DeMarte, JCC president.

The college’s virtual ceremony debuted on Friday evening, honoring a total of 1,114 students who completed their degree as far back as the summer of 2019.

“You will find that your JCC education has prepared you well for meeting the challenges of our community and the ever-changing world in which we live,” DeMarte said during the virtual ceremony. “I am confident that your experience at JCC has provided you a strong foundation for what comes next.”

Ginna Hensel, ’21, of Great Valley, delivered remarks on behalf of the graduating class of 2021, celebrating the diverse backgrounds of the graduating classes.

“We came to JCC diverse in nature,” said Hensel, who serves as the student member of the college’s board of trustees. “No one person has the same story which is what makes JCC so unique. We persevered through our time here, smashing stereotypes and grasping goals. A pandemic did not slow us down.”

Raquel Acevedo, ’20 and Joana Leamon, ’20, student speakers chosen last year to represent the Cattaraugus County and Jamestown campuses, respectively, also delivered remarks during the presentation.

“If a tiny and microscopic virus can change the world, you, who are a million times bigger, can also do it,” Acevedo said. “And your influence will be a million times bigger. And the most powerful impact will be the portions of hope and happiness you will share with other people that are around you. It is your turn to make history. Your time begins today.”

“With every positive choice we have made, and continue to make, the world will become a better place,” said Leamon. “JCC has prepared us to move into the future as an asset to our communities. As we write our own stories with each decision we make, we help write the story of our nation and our world.”

Catharine M. Young, former state senator representing Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, and parts of Livingston counties, likened the graduates to a “beautiful phoenix rising from the ashes” for completing their coursework amid the COVID-19 pandemic during the keynote address.

“The phoenix is symbolic of rebirth, hope, renewal, progress – that is what today is about,” said Young. “Graduates – you all are phoenixes – you are ready to fly.”

During the ceremony, Mark Ward, chair of the board of trustees, honored longtime Cattaraugus County Legislature chair James J. Snyder, Sr. with an honorary doctorate of laws — the highest form of recognition offered by the State University of New York to persons of exceptional distinction.

“We are grateful for this opportunity to commend James Snyder Sr. for his many roles he has played in our communities,” Ward said of Synder, a pioneer in helping establish the college’s Cattaraugus County Campus in 1976 — the same campus where he received his honorary degree on Saturday with his grandson Andrea Certo.

Ward also extended his congratulations to the graduating classes, challenging them to continue a life of community service in the future.

“I urge you to use the foundation established here at JCC as a springboard for further academic and career achievements, and a basis for making meaningful contributions to the communities in which you live,” he said.

The virtual commencement ceremony can be found at sunyjcc.edu/commencement.

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