Tompkins Cortland Community College

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News Release

College Celebrates 45th Commencement

May 22, 2014

Members of the Class of 2014

Cherish the opportunities you have had, define your own success, and get ready for your journey. Those were some of the messages delivered to the class of 2014 during commencement ceremonies at Tompkins Cortland Community College Thursday. The College celebrated its 45th commencement in front of a packed crowd of more than 2,000 people in the College's gymnasium.

The class of 2014 consists of 737 graduates, including student trustee Cheyenne Gorton, who offered the student address. The hotel and restaurant management major talked about the opportunities provided to her classmates. “We have all been fortunate to attend a college that believes your experience should be more than just attending class," she said, noting the many activities and groups her classmates were part of during their time at Tompkins Cortland. "I want to encourage everyone to keep setting their goals higher. When someone doubts you, prove them wrong. You cannot fail if what you are doing is making you proud of yourself. Do something that makes you excited to wake up in the morning, because your happiness is your motivation.”

The main address came from Keri Szymanski Dylan, a 2004 graduate of the College. She talked about her younger years, when she had what she called “monkey brain. “I was not a big academic success, barely made it out of high school,” she told the graduates. But after years of frustration she finally had a learning difficulty diagnosed, and then blossomed at Tompkins Cortland. “They gave me a second chance to clean up the mess I had made. They let me start fresh.” And that led to an academic career that saw her not only thrive, but also rise to the top position of the international honor society for two-year colleges. “All I had to do was ask for help and keep trying. I learned that here.” Dylan, who continued her education by earning her bachelor’s degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design and is the owner of Keri Dylan Designs in Savannah, urged the graduates to never lose sight of the importance of their owns dreams. “I ask you to define success for yourself, because it’s so personal,” she said.

President Carl Haynes was the final speaker, congratulating the graduates on an accomplishment that will have incredible meaning in their life. "In your journey as students, you have done the work and been welcomed into a community of learners – a community in which personal, professional, and community enrichment is a shared value. A community that believes in a viable and better future.”

President Haynes listed some of the accomplishments of this class and the College during the students’ time on campus, before ending ended the evening with a final congratulations and charge to the class. “And the most exciting part of all of this? For all you’ve done, for all of your accomplishments, your adventures, your experiences … this is just the beginning of your journey. Congratulations.”