Attitudes reflected the day’s favorable weather at SUNY Delhi’s 97th annual commencement Saturday.
Not all of the more than 600 graduates of the State University College of Technology at Delhi walked the processional. But those who did were ready by 10 a.m., many donned with trimmings signifying their earned honors of cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude.
When asked about her plans, graduate in veterinary management Erica Zappia said, “I’m returning home to Yonkers and working at a veterinary hospital.”
Carrie Mellinger, also a veterinary technology graduate, said, “I will be headed to an ag tourism farm in Pennsylvania to do an internship.”
With his education degree, Gerard Carty of Harlem said, he will be headed off to another college, undetermined yet, to earn a bachelor’s degree. “Goodbye, Delhi, you can quote me on that,” Carty said. “I want to work in education to become a principal one day.”
During the ceremony, SUNY Delhi President Candace Vancko encapsulated a series of college acknowledgements.
“You can be proud of your alma mater,” Vancko told the graduates before introducing the Associate Degree Student of the Year Kenneth Favreau.
Favreau summarized his experience at SUNY Delhi as a time used to re-create himself into a person with broader horizons. “I had a great experience and will return,” Favreau said. “And, maybe when I do there will be a Verizon cell tower here.”
Favreau told his co-graduates, “Have the drive to make your dreams come true.”
Baccalaureate Degree Student of the Year Arvin Tangalan spoke from the podium about facing challenges and making progress. Quoting 19th-century social reformer Frederick Douglass, Tangalan reiterated, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
Supporters sat on the sidelines, ready to applaud the accomplishments racked up by the graduates during their tenure in school. While earning degrees, many worked at off-campus jobs or volunteered.
While Kevin Ekelund earned his degree in electrical construction and controls, he also earned a state Firefighter Class I certificate through the Delhi Fire Department.
SUNY Delhi’s O’Connor Center for Community Engagement connected Ekelund with the department. “The camaraderie with the other firefighters kept him interested in college,” Ekelund’s mother, Mary, said.
A third-generation firefighter volunteer, Kevin Ekelund was allowed to respond to emergency calls while attending college. “Kevin witnessed the historical sad event of the Cyr Center burning,” his father, Roy, said.
“Kevin also wore his turn-out gear from the Long Island Fire Department, and marched with the Delhi Fire Department during the St. Patrick’s Day parade,” Roy Ekelund said. “Kevin made close friends here.”
The graduate will return to Long Island to live at home and work for a local electrical company, putting his SUNY Delhi learning to work.