College Celebrates 55th Commencement

Graduaets holding diplomas at commencement

Tompkins Cortland Community College celebrated the 499 members of the Class of 2024 during commencement ceremonies Tuesday, May 21. It was the College’s 55th commencement.

Professors Janet Swinnich and Christina Stavenhagen-Helgren, both retiring after long and distinguished careers, served as Grand Marshals and opened the ceremony. Board of Trustees Chair Judy Davison welcomed the graduates and guests, and Student Trustee Romneya Quennell offered comments on behalf of the student body. “Outside these walls lies our future. The obstacles we have all encountered and conquered in order to stand where we are today have shaped us for the better,” said Quennell. “Our potential to light up the darkness hinges only on our willingness to strike that spark.” 

As part of the ceremony, Thomas Jay Pennell and Andrew Pierce were presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Pennell, a 2002 graduate with a degree in engineering science, has worked at the Cornell NanoScale Facility since 2015. He now serves as the educational outreach coordinator and, among other things, is working with TC3 on training students in the field of semiconductors. Pierce, a 1993 graduate in recreation leadership, has worked in various organizations, including a recreation director for the Town of Dryden and the Village of Homer. He is also an entrepreneur, opening Drew’s Dogs and the Frosty Caboose in Cortland. 

Along with their diplomas, members of the graduating class were presented with copies of “Life’s Great Question” by Tom Rath. President Amy Kremenek spoke of how the theme of the book is especially appropriate for new graduates. “I do hope that it helps inspire you to keep asking questions, to keep learning,” said Kremenek. “Part of that learning is figuring out our role in making the world a better place. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said ‘Life’s most and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?’ The Class of 2024 has many talents, and I urge each and every one of you to use those talents to do good for yourself and others.”