JAMESTOWN – More than 1,000 graduates were honored during SUNY Jamestown Community College’s commencement over the weekend.
Former New York State Senator Catharine Young spoke as the ceremony’s featured speaker.
Young, addressing the virtual gathering, spoke to the hardships many faced over the past year, but also to the hope for what’s next.
“The phoenix is symbolic of rebirth, hope, renewal, progress – that is what today is about,” said Young. “Graduates – you all are phoenixes – you are ready to fly.”
The former Senator’s speech was not welcomed by all, with members of the LGBTQIA+ community rising in protest. Many, who spoke at a Friday rally, stood against featuring Young as the keynote speaker for her lack of support to the gay pride community.
Nevertheless, SUNY JCC leadership stood by their decision to let Young take the stage, offering alternative viewing options for students protesting her appearance.
Following Friday’s virtual event, students donning caps and gowns lined the college’s two campuses on Saturday and Sunday to receive their degrees and certificates in-person after an academic year of mostly hybrid instruction.
Seventy-eight graduates from the Cattaraugus County Campus were recognized in Olean on Saturday, while 232 were recognized on the Jamestown Campus on Sunday.
Degrees were presented by the school’s president Dr. Daniel DeMarte.
The full virtual commencement ceremony can be viewed online at sunyjcc.edu/commencement.