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350 Keuka College Students Receive Diplomas


Connections and engagement were the themes of Keuka College’s 115th Commencement on Saturday.

Highlighted by a pair of student speakers, remarks to graduates from President Amy Storey, and the bestowal of an honorary degree on a longtime College trustee, the ceremony saw some 350 students formally earn their degrees – all cheered on by a boisterous crowd of some 2,000 family members and friends.

Student speakers Emily Remillard and Rosabella Venera Francis, both graduating seniors, reflected on the challenges of entering college at the height of a pandemic – and persevering, in large part, thanks to a supportive environment.

“We entered this College amid unprecedented circumstances,” said Rosabella, a Social Work major who will return to Keuka College in the fall to earn her master’s degree. “But through it all, we stuck together, supporting each other and making the best of a challenging situation. We did not allow this adversity to define us; instead, we rose to the occasion.”

Emily likewise highlighted the importance of College relationships.

“Keuka College has brought us connections for a lifetime, the best of friends, and an experience that changed our lives for the better,” said the Occupational Science major, who will also return to Keuka College in the fall to earn her master’s degree. “The connections and relationships we have made and will continue to make are the biggest takeaways from our experience here at Keuka College.”

President Storey advised graduates to continue to make personal connections in life as a way to bridge the differences that too often divide the nation. And she reminded them that the College will remain a source of support.

“We here at Keuka College may no longer be beside you,” he said, “but we will always be behind you.”

Alijah Ellis ’24, in cap and gown, poses with his family following Saturday’s ceremony. (Photo: provided)

Acknowledging that many in the Class of 2024 did not take part in traditional high school graduation ceremonies, the College included the high school and graduation year of each graduate when calling them to the stage.

Before announcing its graduates, however, College officials awarded their highest degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, to Board of Trustees Secretary and longtime College champion Donald Wertman.

“Every college should be so lucky as to have an advocate, a supporter, and a friend like Don Wertman,” said Emerita Trustee Dr. Barbara Allardice ’61 in announcing the honor. She cited his two decades of support for the College’s online learning initiatives, emphasis on diversity and social justice, capital campaigns, and student success.

Trustee Wertman pointed out that the honor gave him something in common with the graduating class.

“Receiving this degree today makes me, as you will be in a few minutes, an alum of Keuka College,” he told the senior class. “As alumni, we have a responsibility to support the continuing viability of Keuka College in word and deed.”

The ceremony also included the presentation of an Award of Higher Education to Nicole Lindsay, a graduate of the DRIVE (Diversity, Responsibility, Inclusion, Vision, and Experiential Learning) program, a collaboration among Keuka College, the Dundee Central School District, and Mozaic, a Penn Yan chapter of The Arc.

Baccalaureate Service

The weekend also featured the College’s 115th Baccalaureate Service held on Friday, May 17. Six graduating students delivered remarks on themes ranging from lessons learned to kindness to making the most of experiences and opportunities. The student speakers were:

-Olivia Santana ’24, an occupational science major from Parker, Colo.
-Katelan Dicker ’24, a sustainability major from Canandaigua, N.Y.
-Shaelyn Diamond ’24, an occupational science major from Brookfield, Conn.
-Alijah Ellis ’24, a visual communication design major from Portsmouth, Va.
-Amanda (Bobby) Nettles ’24, a psychology major from Oswego, N.Y.
-Elias Moses-Westphal ’23 M’24, an occupational therapy major from Middletown, N.Y.

The keynote address was delivered by the College’s Founding Associate Professor of Child and Family Studies and Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Nicholas Koberstein. During his address, he encouraged the audience to embrace chaos.

“We are pushed into chaos when we don’t know what something is nor how to deal with it,” said Dr. Koberstein. “Chaos forces us out of our comfort zones and compels us to confront the unknown. The longer we remain in chaos, the more comfortable we can be in that absolute flux of emotions, and the more powerful we become. Chaos has been a great friend of mine, and you’d be wise to befriend it too.”

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