Hundreds cross the stage at SUNY Canton, Clarkson Commencements

Published: May. 13, 2023 at 3:58 PM EDT
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CANTON, New York (WWNY) - North country Commencement ceremonies are kicking off this weekend as college graduates get ready to take the next step in their careers.

More than 800 degrees were given out Saturday, with recipients like Connor Dickinson ready to take the plunge into post-graduate life.

“So, I plan to work at Journey Physical Therapy in Lowville with Amber Astafan and I’m really excited because I did my clinical there and it was a great experience,” said Dickinson.

For other students, bachelor’s degrees are only the beginning as they forge a path towards grad school but getting their diploma still marks a major milestone.

“To finally knock off this bit of the educational journey, it’s a bit of a relief,“ said Kegan Norquist. Class of 2023 Graduate.

The COVID-19 Pandemic hung like a cloud over the class of 2023, with many students having their freshman year cut short.

“This year was I felt like the first real normal year since COVID,” said Jonah Black, Class of 2023 Graduate.

Despite the unconventional experience many students tell us leaving will be bittersweet.

“I have done a lot of stuff in SUNY Canton. I definitely will miss this spot.” says Muhammid Shabbir, Class of 2023 Graduate.

“It is bittersweet. I love the environment here. I love seeing all of my friends every day. Yeah, it’s going to be sad to go but happy to be done,” said Theresa Rossi, Class of 2023 Graduate.

For Vanessa Melendez, whose college experience was cut short due to home issues back in 2008, crossing the stage felt like sealing an old wound.

“I finally get to answer the how’s school going with a positive answer and excitement instead of sadness. So I left this campus crying and now I can’t seem to stop smiling,” said Melendez.

Hundreds of diplomas, each one with a story to tell.

Just down the road in Potsdam, more than 700 students at Clarkson University also received their diplomas this weekend, joining the almost 400 students that got their degrees this past winter and summer.

In addition to the graduating students, receiving an honorary degree and addressing students, families and guests was distinguished military leader Lieutenant General Rick Lynch, Retired from the U.S. Army.

In his remarks, Lynch stressed the importance of three qualities: discipline, work ethic, and especially relationships.

Students also heard from one of their own, Jefry Lopez Rincon, who was the President of the Clarkson University Student Association.

“I would be lying that we have everything figured out when we first started but with patience, obviously and trust, we managed to turn dreams into reality. Not because we are 18-year-olds unsure of what life had to offer during our college career but because we wanted to reach for the stars,” said Lopez Rincon.

From all of us here at 7News, we wish you the best in your future endeavors.