AU Press Releases

Wozniak addresses graduates at Downstate Commencement

From left, Brenda Glasse '10; Provost William Hall; Peggy Wozniak '72 and Vice President Stan Colla

From left, Brenda Glasse '10; Provost William Hall; Peggy Wozniak '72 and Vice President Stan Colla

BROOKLYN, NY - Students completing Alfred University’s Downstate Programs have "chosen the most important career," Peggy Wozniak, superintendent of Binghamton City Schools, told the 78 graduates and their families at the annual commencement ceremony June 16 at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn.

Wozniak, a 1972 alumna of Alfred University with a degree in elementary education, earned her master’s degree and then her doctoral degree while working full-time, just as the graduates of AU’s Downstate Programs have earned their master’s degrees in counseling or literacy education while working.

"Completing my 40th year in public education, I can assure you that you have chosen the most important career to the future of our country, the education and development of our youth," Wozniak said. "I know it may be at times frustrating, exhausting and stressful, but it is always rewarding.

"We also choose this career because we can make a difference in the life of a child," Wozniak said, offering three stories to illustrate how the actions of a single individual affected a child’s life for the better.

"I shared these stories … to inspire you and give you the purpose and energy you need to be there for our children," Wozniak said. "They need you. Give them hope. Our children and our country need this more than ever."

Wozniak received a Presidential Order of Merit from Alfred University for her "professional accomplishments [that] have made a difference in her community, and [her] volunteer efforts [that] have made a difference to her alma mater."

Another Alfred University alumna Kathleen O’Donnell Atwell, a 1961 graduate, was recognized as the "supervisor of the year" for her work in overseeing David Trinidad as he completed his practicum at the George Washington Young Adult Borough Center.

Trinidad, student speaker for the counseling program at the commencement, was also one of the students honored for earning a 4.0 grade point average for 16 courses over the two-years of the counseling program. Student speaker for the literacy program was Bready R. Zelenka.

Other students honored as outstanding students for also earning 4.0 GPAs were:

Counseling: Kimberly A. Edison, William R. Gannon, Gina M. Grassia, April M. Grasso, Orquidia Luna, Lucila M. Macias, Angelina Ramos, Candice L. Rodney, Jessica D. Schrank, Allen E. Smart, Wilsa G. Taveras, Gail R. Weinstein, and Cheryll Williams.

Literacy: Rebecca L. Kopcienski, Danielle B. Lynch, and Nicolle Pomponio. Literary students complete nine courses during one year to earn their master’s.

Recipients of the Dougherty Award, which recognizes students who consistently demonstrate excellence and a high level of professionalism in both the academic and applied aspects of their field, were Gina M. Grassia, Angelina Ramos and Allen E. Smart for counseling and Justin H. Boyd for literacy.

Inducting students into the Alfred University Alumni Association was Brenda Glasse, a 2010 graduate of the program with a master’s in counseling.