AU Press Releases

Provost: Downstate graduates show ‘vision and courage’

Graduates of the Alfred University Downstate Programs demonstrated that they have the “necessary vision and courage to direct change in their lives and the lives of others,” W. Richard Stephens, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said at today’s commencement ceremony.

A total of 105 students received their  master’s degrees in counseling or literacy education, or earned certificates in advanced mental health counseling during the ceremony,  before a standing-room only audience filled with family and friends at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott.

“Your decision to carve out the time and resources to attend the Alfred University Downstate Program speaks of your courage and the faith of your family, friends, colleagues and fellow students,” said Stephens. 

As a sociologist, Stephens said it is his job to “notice and pay attention” to details, but it is important for everyone to pay attention to what is happening today, and what will be happening in the future as we face “unimaginable change” going forward. Paying attention is “absolutely critical” in determining how we – individually and collectively – will adapt.

The James F. Dougherty Award, created by the late director of the Center for Integrated Teacher Education, Alfred University’s partner in the Downstate Programs, recognizes those graduates who have achieved academic excellence, and “have been identified by the faculty for their commitment, motivation and dedication,” explained Jay Cerio, director of AU’s Downstate Programs. This year’s recipients are: Dominick Pelletieri, literacy; and Rashidat Balogun, Carine Lazzare and Marcos Garcia, counseling.

Recognized as outstanding students in the counseling programs, meaning them have taken at least 12 of the 14 courses offered; completed two internships and earned a 4.0 grade point average (GPA) were: Ronald Astree, Philip A. Avello, Alexandra M. Balboni, Rashidat M. Balogun, Stephanie C. Barnes, Michael K. Chasan, Amy Coyle, Ilana Davi, Mikerlange Fleury, Marcos Garcia, Miledy Infante-Anderson, Jose M. Jean, Melissa A. Johnson, Alan A. Plummer, Sharlene L. Simpson and Deborah Terraferma.

Kaynetha J. Hall was recognized as the outstanding literacy student for completing all seven of the courses, completing two field experiences, and earning a 4.0 GPA.

Lisa Dolcemacolo, guidance counselor at PS 121, the Nelson A. Rockefeller School, was honored as the supervisor of the year, and April Leong, principal of Liberation Diploma Plus High School, was honored as the principal of the year.

Natasha Garcia, who spoke on behalf of the literacy graduates, noted they can take pride in completing their degrees while “juggling full-time jobs, children and spouses. It is a testament to our time-management skills at best.”

She said the program is “intense, grueling” but their success demonstrates their belief in themselves and the faith they have in their own abilities.

Speaking on behalf of the counseling graduates, Sina Surace said many of them “didn’t realize how much we’d changed in two years” of Saturdays spent in class, week-long summer trips to the main campus in Alfred, NY, while working and caring for families. The experience, she said, “left me stronger.”

Brenda Glasse, a 2010 graduate of the counseling program who is now enrolled in the advanced mental health counseling certificate program, welcomed the new graduates into the Alfred University Alumni Association.