May 20, 2013
Grads start next chapter
About 1,700 SUNY Cortland students earn degrees
A 1965 SUNY Cortland graduate and honorary degree recipient spoke to graduates, family and friends in a packed Park Center Alumni arena about students developing good character along their journey of professional and personal success.
“In addition to being good at what you love, you also need to get good at who you are,” said Judith Rink, an internationally respected authority on physical education and teacher preparation. “Life is also measured by the lives you have touched, what we are given — not what we have received, and our own ability to give and receive love.”
In two ceremonies Saturday, 1,213 students received their undergraduate diplomas. About 150 students received master’s degrees and certificates of advanced study during a ceremony Friday night.
Emily Hunt, therapeutic recreation major and cum laude graduate, said Rink’s speech is important for graduates to hear.
“We have so much pressure on us to succeed, that it is important to find something that we enjoy doing,” she said.
The Marcellus native switched majors four times over her college career, beginning with liberal arts, then physical education, to community health, to her current therapeutic recreation major.
“It has been a long journey, but I am most proud of my academic accomplishments and how I progressed and accomplished a lot more than I ever expected,” Hunt said.
In the fall, Hunt will complete a 14-week internship at Syracuse Behavioral Health care in Jamesville while residing with her parents back home.
Rink, a distinguished faculty member at University of South Carolina and expert in the field of physical education, spoke to graduates about setting goals after graduation. She admitted that she was never an “A” student and in fact had a “D” on her transcript.
“When I was in your shoes some 50 years ago, there was no doubt in my mind that I would make a difference by being the best teacher I could,” she said. “What I did not know was that I would also contribute to the knowledge base of the field and share my findings, do research, writing, teaching and advocacy at the state and national level.”
Physical education major Scott Cotter said he was impressed to have a speaker of Rink’s stature and reputation speak at commencement.
“I am familiar with Rink because she authored a few of my course textbooks,” he said.
Looking to his own future as a recent graduate, Cotter said he will likely attend graduate school in the near future, after he completes student teaching in the fall.
“I have been around sports my whole life and it has helped me get through school,” Cotter said. “Like Rink said, I want to be happy with what I do in life and wake up in the morning knowing that I can help out in some way.”
Athletic training major and graduate John Kenney said he is still working on developing his character.
Kenney described himself as a hard-working individual who is laid back, but who has more confidence in himself now than when he first stepped foot on campus four years ago.
“I am still figuring out what I am good at, but it was good to hear Rink speak about how students can apply themselves, despite the hard economy,” Kenney said.
Graduates proceeded to the arena to sounds of the five-person Cortland Brass Ensemble.
Daniela Feyjoo, mother of magna cum laude and childhood education major Alicia Feyjoo, was overtaken by emotion as she watched the graduates proceed into the arena.
“I just cannot believe how fast time flew by,” Feyjoo said, dabbing her teary eyes. “What happened to my little girl?”
Feyjoo reminisced about how Alicia would call all the time during her first semester on campus.
“I remember her calling and telling me how sick she was and how much school work she had,” Feyjoo said. “She had to grow up a lot all by herself.”
Parents, family and friends donned bouquets of flowers and a plethora of cameras to capture the event.
Carolyn McEvoy, grandmother of sports management graduate Kelsey Peebles, said this is her fifth grandchild she has watched collect a college diploma.
“I am thinking the same think I thought about the first time one of my grandchildren crossed that stage — I am gonna bawl!,” she said.
SUNY Cortland Alumna Betsy McKee, mother of psychology major Courtney McKee, stood at the top of the bleachers with her alumnus husband Brian McKee and their 13-year-old son Tommy, during the ceremony.
The Baldwinsville residents said their daughter had offers from five different colleges, but chose Cortland.
“We are just so happy for her — she really liked it here from the beginning,” Betsy McKee said
Their daughter will continue in the field of social sciences after graduation while working with children at Hillside in Syracuse.
Instructed to move their tassels from the right side to the left, students awaited instructions to move to the stage in receipt of their diploma.
Student graduation caps donned sayings like “thanks mom and dad,” “done in 3,” “started from the bottom and now I’m here,” to “we all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go we take a little of each other.”
Lindsey Pariti, childhood education major and Levittown native, said she is most proud of graduating with her degree in four years.
“I, too, want to be the best I can be — helping kids — as a teacher,” she said.
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