Tompkins Cortland Community College

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Tompkins Cortland Celebrates 46th Commencement

May 21, 2015

You are well prepared for the future. It won’t be easy, but you are ready. That was among the messages delivered to the class of 2015 during commencement ceremonies at Tompkins Cortland Community College Thursday. The College celebrated its 46th commencement in front of a packed crowd of more than 2,000 people in the College's gymnasium.

The class of 2015 consists of 687 graduates, including student trustee Navjot Kaur. “You know, for me the best part about College was waking up some days and thinking to myself, ‘Wow, I can look back a couple months ago and see changes in myself for the better’,” said Kaur while offering the student address. “This is because we have been privileged to become a part of this tight knit community where professors, advisors, and mentors have motivated us to strive not only in academics, but also in professional, leadership, and personal development.”

“On this day, which marks our academic success, you will hear many people tell you it’s just the beginning,” said Kaur. “But take a moment to reflect on how far you’ve come. We come from different places, we have different stories, and each and every graduate has contributed their experiences in making this journey memorable for all of us.”

The main address was delivered by Walter Poland, the College’s Vice President for Global Initiatives and President of the Faculty Student Association. Poland, an original employee from when the College opened in 1968, has attended each of the 46 commencements. He joked that he started at Tompkins Cortland Community College on July 1, 1968, and it was “about time I graduated.” He said he shares similarities with the class of 2015. “It is as true for me as it for each of you. You’re different now from when you started here, no matter when you started.”

He noted he has grown up along with College. “As I look around our graduates, some of you are older than I was then, 24 years old,” said Poland, noting that founding president Hushang Bahar asked him to come and help start something special. “The dream is being fulfilled. What this college was established for, you embody.”

Poland offered some advice learned from his time at Tompkins Cortland. “I’d like to encourage you to share with others, support others, support yourself, and most of all, respect other people,” said Poland. “Do not be afraid to dream, and push ahead.”

President Carl Haynes also addressed the graduates, congratulating them on rising to the challenge. "You are exceptionally well-prepared as graduates of a college known throughout the SUNY system for its high, and at times, unrelenting, academic standards,” said Haynes. “You met those standards. You exceeded those standards. At the same time you rose to the academic challenge, you adapted to new cultures, new people, new surroundings. Was it always easy? No, of course not. And it won’t be easy when you leave here. But you’ve shown that you can adapt, that you can work with others, that you can learn from differences and find common ground.”

Haynes concluded with a final thought as the students prepared to cross the stage. “I know we have also taught you this: Wherever you have come from, whatever obstacles you have overcome, this accomplishment means that you all share something in common, you are graduating from Tompkins Cortland Community College. The past is prologue. Now the real fun and real work of your education begins. So again, I say congratulations.”

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