Jefferson Community College held its 54th annual spring commencement ceremony on Friday, May 18 at 7:00 p.m. in the McVean Gymnasium. Jefferson’s class of 2018 is comprised of 460 students who are candidates for graduation in May or August of 2018 pending satisfactory completion of coursework. Fourteen students will receive more than one diploma and/or certificate, bringing the total number of degrees and/certificates awarded to 474.
Approximately 43% of graduates are adult learners, aged 24 years or older, 73% of graduates are from Jefferson County and 88% of graduates took at least one online class. Jefferson continues to be a strong educational partner of Fort Drum with 45% of the class of 2018 comprised of active duty soldiers and their family members and veterans. Jefferson’s active duty and veteran students, along with faculty and staff veterans, were distinguished during the ceremony by red, white and blue cords worn in recognition of their service to our country.
Denise K. Young, chief executive officer of the Watertown Family YMCA, delivered the commencement address. Young holds a bachelor’s degree in occupational safety and health from SUNY Empire State College and a master’s in business administration in healthcare administration from the University of Phoenix.
Prior to her role with the YMCA, Young served as the Executive Director of the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO) which during her tenure, the organization secured over $103 million dollars to improve the North Country healthcare system and was awarded the Jefferson Citation for its efforts to support educational and career pathways for healthcare professionals. From 2005 to 2007, Young served as director of the Center for Community Studies at Jefferson Community College. She currently serves on the NYS Rural Health Council and was appointed by Governor Cuomo to serve on the NYS Department of Health North Country Healthcare Redesign Commission. Young is a passionate advocate for those living with mental illness and substance abuse disorders and has been a key speaker at local, state and national conferences and in 2008, she was recognized by the Northern Regional Center for Independent Living for her advocacy. In 2011, she received the Fort Drum Woman of the Mountain award, and in 2014 she received the Greater North Country Chamber of Commerce Athena® International Leadership Award.
Young encouraged Jefferson graduates, “Find mentors and value them, be a mentor and find ways to lift others up, and above all, be kind.”
The student commencement speaker was Jason A. House of Watertown. House graduated with his associate in applied science degree in chemical dependency and last December, graduated with his associate degree in human services. After graduating from General Brown High School in 1994, House joined the Navy. House is passionate about working in the chemical dependency field and helping others. He received the 2018 Outstanding Chemical Dependency Student award in April and has been named to President’s and Dean’s Lists at Jefferson. He is a member of JCC’s Tau Xi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Additionally, he is a member of the College’s Educational Opportunity Program, Collegiate Science Technology Entry Program, and the TRIO Student Support STAR Program. His fictional story, “The Garden,” was recently published in the Black River Review. House plans to transfer to Keuka College through the Jefferson Higher Education Center in the fall to major in social work.
House encouraged graduates, “Embrace your failures, learn from them and have the courage in life to take chances. Set goals and crush them!”
Several students, faculty and staff were recognized with academic awards and honors during the commencement exercises.
Two candidates for graduation were recognized for receiving the State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence earlier this year. This award acknowledges students who have best demonstrated the integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives: community service, athletics, creative and performing arts, leadership and career achievement. Mikayla M. Lasek of Brownville, and Morgan T. Warren of Dexter were chosen by SUNY for the 2018 Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.
Ms. Lasek received her associate in science (A.S.) degree in mathematics and sciences with a concentration in allied health from Jefferson in December 2017 and graduated with her teaching assistant certificate in May. She plans to transfer to SUNY Upstate Medical in the fall. Ms. Warren graduated with an associate in arts (A.A.) degree in individual studies and plans to transfer to SUNY Cortland in the Fall for recreational therapy.
Ms. Warren along with Jordan L. Harris of Fort Drum were recognized as members of the All-New York Academic Team for Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society for community colleges. To be chosen for the All-New York academic team, students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.25 and have a history of scholarly achievement and outstanding service to campus or community. Ms. Harris is graduating with an associate in applied science degree in zoo technology. Her career goal is to become a zoo director.
The Jefferson Community College Honors Program offers students with exceptional academic skills the opportunity to receive enriched instruction and one graduating student completed this program. Honors program students elect three courses and enhance them as Honors Options by choosing a project for each and working directly with a faculty member to provide a unique and rewarding educational experience. Class of 2018 members who graduated with Honors Program designation is Courtnee N. Denton of Fort Drum, Lauren M. Gay of Watertown, Jordan L. Harris of Fort Drum, Amy L. Holland of Fulton, Mitchell C. Netto of Watertown, Emma K. Rogers of Pierrepont Manor, and Morgan T. Warren of Dexter.
Six members of Jefferson’s faculty/staff were recognized as recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence. The Chancellor’s Awards recognize extraordinary achievement and encourage the continuation of excellence. James P.R. Ambrose of Black River, Director of Financial Aid, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service; Mark D. Irwin of Watertown, Associate Professor of Biology received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching; Sister Juliana Raymond of Watertown, Adjunct Instructor of Early Childhood and College Chaplain, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching; Kimberly G. Sell of Theresa, Associate Professor of Physical Education, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service; CJ Southworth of Watertown, Assistant Professor of English, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities; and Suzanne M. VanEpps of Dexter, Senior Account Clerk, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Classified Service. Chancellor’s Award honorees received their medallions at the College’s Recognition Ceremony held on May 4, 2018.
In December 2017, Jefferson Community College honored 193 candidates for graduation, combined with 459 students who are candidates for graduation in May or August of 2018 pending satisfactory completion of coursework, brings the total for the 2017 – 2018 academic year to 652 students who have, or are candidates, to graduate.