May 27, 2016


TC3 celebrates resilient class of 2016

VetBob Ellis/staff photographer
Despite a broken leg she sustained in a softball game, Allison DeGraff sits in the front row with Molly Doubet on Thursday during graduation ceremonies at Tompkins Cortland Community College. The two Cortland High students, who received liberal arts degrees at the college Thursday, will receive their high school diplomas next month.

Staff Reporter

DRYDEN — Much like graduates at other colleges, perseverance and dedication paid off for the class of 2016 at Tompkins Cortland Community College.
But after their ceremony Thursday evening at the TC3 Athletic Facility, some students said their experiences at the college showed them they could achieve more than they ever thought possible. Others said it completely changed who they were.
Before students lined up to collect their diplomas, TC3 President Carl Haynes addressed the graduating class, acknowledging their hard work and, for some, the sacrifices they had to make to get to this day.
He talked about grit and resilience. He spoke about how many people often use those terms to describe getting through the academic challenges students face in college.
While that may be true, Haynes also recognized the challenges many students faced in their personal lives.
The graduates weren’t there simply because they earned enough credits in their classes. They were there because they took control of their destinies and made positive choices, the effects of which will impact them going forward, he said.
“You didn’t just punch a clock and get through,” Haynes said. “You rewrote your life and now you have the degree to show for it. But you have so much more — you have an education.”
Travis Bryan, 22, graduated from college with a degree in sports management, general studies and recreation arts.
Coming to Dryden from a place like Harlem, Bryan said making the decision to move so far from home was difficult to begin with, let alone the fact that he was never the best at school.
“It was rough because I’m not a school kid like that,” he said.
The smile on his face as he posed for pictures with his family showed the sense of accomplishment Bryan was feeling at that moment, but he said he isn’t ready to rest on his laurels yet, as he plans to continue working hard to achieve his goal of becoming a social worker.
“I feel good, relieved,” Bryan said, “But I’ve got to prepare for what’s next in front of me.”
Graduates Molly Doubet and Allison DeGraff, 18, are from Cortland, but just because they were close to home doesn’t mean graduating was easy. In fact, only a small group of graduates could relate to the challenges they faced.
Doubet and DeGraff received their liberal arts degrees as two of the 34 graduates out a class of 689 who would leave TC3 the same year they graduated from high school.
“You’re experiencing two completely different styles of learning at the same time,” DeGraff said. “I had to take a couple of online courses ... and it was a lot tougher than my high school ones were.”
“We have to manage sports, college and high school at the same time,” Doubet added. “It was a lot of hard work.” Doubet said. “I feel good. It’s an accomplishment not a lot of people get to experience.”
That’s right: the friends are both student athletes who play three sports each.
Doubet and DeGraff both play on the same basketball and soccer teams, but Doubet chose lacrosse as her third sport, while DeGraff opted for softball. As if that wasn’t difficult enough, DeGraff broke her leg playing softball a couple of weeks ago.
That meant she had to make that long walk across the stage with a pair of crutches, but that didn’t stop her from celebrating along with the rest of her classmates. The experience was still just as surreal.
“I still don’t believe that it’s actually happening,” she said.
Outside the building, William Perkins, 21, of Spencer, said he has big plans. He’ll be taking his general science degree with him to Daemen College in Amherst to master physical therapy, and maybe after that start his own business.
Perkins said graduating from TC3 was tough, and he realizes going forward will present its fair share of challenges as well. But that’s all right because in addition to his education, he learned one more important thing:
“If I can do this, I can do anything,” he said.


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