Terry Hannum photoBeginning a walk to remember into the Clarks Sports Center, Culinary Arts graduates Kimberly Austin and Anna Weisheit get a sight of the crowd.Terry Hannum photoBeginning a walk to remember into the Clarks Sports Center, Culinary Arts graduates Kimberly Austin and Anna Weisheit get a sight of the crowd.

Under sunny skies, the State University College of Technology at Delhi graduated about 600 diploma- and certificatebearing students Saturday in the Clark Field House.

Among them were construction management students Ben VanDusen of Hamden and Kevin O’Donohue of Nyack, who observed that the years of college work seemed to go by slowly to reach their goals, but Saturday it all seemed to go by  far too quickly.VanDusen will begin his career with a U.S. Department of Agriculture job, leaving what he called “the best and biggestprogram in Delhi.”

Parents Ned and Donna Murphy of Auburn, waiting to see their son Dustin graduate, shared a message of hope for high school students.

“Dustin didn’t began his real academic success (until) he came to SUNY Delhi,” Murphy said. “We are so proud of him!”

Howard and Helen Austin spoke highly of the college as well, adding that their daughter Kimberly, who graduated Saturday with a bachelor’s degree from the culinary arts program, wished that she had spent all four years here instead of the final three.

The procession and recession of graduates, faculty, staff and guests was led by Distinguished Service Professor Joe Greenfield. Greenfield noted that SUNY Delhi has changed considerably since he began his career there in 1968 _ not only in appearance, with major campus construction projects, but also through the educational changes and technological advances the college has seen.

College President Candace Vancko introduced U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer amid applause.

He recalled his daughter Jessica’s graduation and reflected on the tough times in her life, during which he and his wife were there to help.

“These graduates here today could not have done this without you,” Schumer said, addressing the family members present.

In his speech, Schumer reflected on his own life, speaking of decisions made, opportunities lost and the importance of picking yourself up after mistakes have been made.

Leaning forward into the microphone, Schumer exhorted graduates to “Go for it!”

Schumer’s address was followed by a speech from Assemblyman Cliff Crouch, no stranger to the college campus.

Crouch welcomed the guests who are visitors to this area and congratulated the graduates.

John Keegan spoke after Crouch, telling the audience that despite having planned to spend just one semester studying at the college, “this campus has a strange power to make people better. I saw that, and I stayed.”

Baccalaureate Student of the Year Danielle Schafer, a travel and tourism major from Mattydale, offered an extensive list of thank-yous, as well as advice for everyone to follow.

“The No. 1 lesson I learned was to stay involved in community and volunteerism,” Schafer said, concluding her speech by shouting, “We did it!”

Vancko echoed Schafer’s remarks in her address, observing that “Community service is what sets this graduating class apart from all others.”

Vancko described some of the projects to which SUNY Delhi students have donated a collective 24,000 hours of volunteer service.

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