From the Desk of Executive Director, Dolores Swirin-Yao

May 2024

The satisfying and successful completion of SUNY WCC’s work on behalf of students has been visible all around the College in May with Commencement and other graduation celebrations!

On Thursday, May 9, there were three graduation ceremonies and a special luncheon, making for a very full and inspiring day.

The morning ceremony for the School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering and the School of Health Careers, Technology and Applied Learning had a special speaker: John B. King, Jr., Ed.D., Chancellor of the State University of New York.  Chancellor King recounted his own story of a bumpy start to his education turning out with his becoming U.S. Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama and now the chancellor of the largest comprehensive system of public higher education in the country.  Quite an inspiration for the recent graduates!

Our Alumni Engagement office welcomed our Golden Alumni, alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago, at a lovely reunion luncheon.  Those whose anniversary was this year—the graduates of the class of 1974–wore golden robes and were greeted warmly at our afternoon ceremony. 

The afternoon ceremony for the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences featured Karen Erren, President and CEO of Feeding Westchester, an important partner of SUNY WCC in providing support to students facing food insecurity.

And an evening ceremony for the School of Business and Professional Careers featured Michelle A. Nicholas, founder and CEO of NICO Consulting, who shared her own family’s moving immigrant story. 

One of my favorite aspects of commencement is seeing the families of the graduates gather together to celebrate.  Unlike more traditional college graduations, in many cases the families of our students include not just parents and siblings but also the students’ own spouses and children

Seeing the excitement and pride of the kids whose parents are graduating is a real source of hope for the future of the families whose lives have been changed at WCC. 

There was good news about many students—here are some particularly special awards:

Carolina Mendoza—one of the featured students at our November 2023 “Transforming Futures Together” Gala–was the recipient of the very prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship. Carolina is one of only 60 students across the country to receive this award, which is worth up to $55,000/year to complete her bachelor’s degree.  President Belinda Miles and Honors College Director Dr. Miroslawa Sakrejda gave Carolina the good news about her award. 

Four students from SUNY WCC were each recognized with a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence: Luis Granados, Alicia Greco and Jessica Sabau and Lotus Taylor.

Another important graduation activity was Lavender Graduation, which recognizes the accomplishments of our LGBTQIA+ students.  It is poignant to know that we provide a safe, supportive and accepting space for all of our students. 

SUNY WCC’S newly minted nurses were celebrated at the Nurse Pinning Ceremony, joining a workforce for which well trained nurses are in great demand. 

Students who participated in the Money Smart Financial Coaching Program sponsored by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation received their certificates of completion.  Dr. Nafisah Graham-Brown, who heads the Center for Financial and Economic Education; Wayne Davis of JP Morgan Chase; and I presented certificates to students.  We heard students’ stories of moving from feeling overwhelmed with trying to budget to having a good credit history, high credit score and good financial habits like building up savings that will serve them well in the future.

So much to celebrate in May at SUNY WCC as the academic year comes to a close!