JCC Grads Told ‘Determination Shapes How You Encounter The World’

Jamestown Community College has recognized its 2014 graduates.

The 64th annual Jamestown Community College commencement ceremony took place Saturday, in the campus’ Physical Education Complex.

The ceremony honored 571 spring 2014 graduates, 201 December 2013 graduates and 63 summer 2013 graduates.

To begin the event, President Dr. Cory Duckworth welcomed attendees and introduced distinguished guests in attendance, including Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan – who was also celebrating his birthday, as noted by Duckworth – Assemblyman Andy Goodell and Mayor Sam Teresi.

Reynaldo Muniz III, president of JCC’s Student Senate, followed by introducing the commencement speaker, Dr. Joshua T. Harris.

Harris, a 1998 JCC graduate and policy director for The Future of Privacy Forum in Washington, D.C., spoke of the importance of higher education.

“What this institution is doing here today is more than a ceremony – one which, by the way, I am incredibly honored to take part in,” Harris said.

“This institution is validating you to some very important actors out there. Namely, prospective employers and other colleges,” Harris continued. “From this perspective, JCC is offering you something incredibly important – the ability to vouch for you. They can do this because they believe in their curriculum and the professors that build and implement it. But most importantly, they believe in you and in your ability to absorb this information and use it as a foundation for whatever career path you’re building.”

Harris explained how much like a college credentials its students based upon core curriculum requirements, each person credentials the world around them based upon their own moral code.

“Just like not everyone who enrolls will make it to graduation, not everything you encounter will pass your assessment,” Harris said. “But of course, some things – and some people – will pass our little test, sometimes in spectacular fashion. What I’m getting at here is that your determination shapes how you encounter the world.”

Harris also explained that during an academic debate in the 1930s surrounding the still-unexplained “entanglement theory,” Albert Einstein referred to the sum of existing explanations as “spooky action at a distance.”

“Now in this instance, Einstein was talking about quantum physics,” Harris said. “But I was reading an essay by another big thinker the other day, Questlove from the Roots, who used this same phrase when thinking about the way that other people affect you, the way that your life is entangled in theirs whether or not there’s a clear line of connection.”

According to Harris, value judgments and the credentialing of thoughts and people are what allow people to begin thinking about “spooky action at a distance.”

To end his address, Harris quoted Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

“There’s more to life than formal education – but it sure is important,” Harris said. “And used properly, it sure can help.”

Marilyn A. Zagora, vice president of academic affairs, and Eileen J. Goodling, vice president of student development, presented the degree candidates. Degrees were presented by Duckworth and Dale Robbins, vice chairperson of the JCC board of trustees.

Robbins also presented JCC Trustee Awards in recognition of the highest academic achievement in each degree area. Recipients included Jennifer James of Cuba and Brianna Nelson for Associate in Arts; Jared Aiken of Falconer, Karalyn Anastasia and Kevin Volz of Olean, Tera Anderson of Frewsburg, Megan Kent of Portville and Victoria Matteson of Corry, Pa, for Associate in Science; and Karen Fuhrman of Stockton and Alexandra Villafrank of Westfield for Associate in Applied Science.

JCC Distinguished Alumnus Awards were presented by Cheri Foti, chairperson of the JCC Alumni Association, to Harris, Felix Muzza and Patricia M. Phillips.

The college’s concert band and choir provided music during the event.

A reception hosted by the Faculty Student Association was held in the Student Union of the Hamilton Collegiate Center following commencement.