Hudson Valley Community College’s 69th Commencement to Celebrate Nearly 1,500 Graduates

May 12, 2023

Hudson Valley Community College will honor nearly 1,500 graduates during its 69th annual Commencement exercises held at the McDonough Sports Complex in Troy on Saturday, May 13, 2023. Three ceremonies are scheduled at 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 2 p.m. throughout the day to recognize the accomplishments of graduates of degree and certificate programs in the School of STEM, the School of Health Sciences, and the School of Business and Liberal Arts.

During each ceremony, graduates will receive individual recognition on stage and hear inspirational remarks from President Roger Ramsammy, representatives from Rensselaer County, Hudson Valley’s Board of Trustees Chairman Neil Kelleher, the elected Student Senate president Neasa McAlice and academic deans. Thousands of graduates’ family and friends are expected to attend, and all three ceremonies will be livestreamed on the college’s website:

 The Class of 2023 includes 1,489 students who earned associate degrees and certificates in 80+ program areas. Of them, 422 graduated with academic honors, and 143 were members of the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society.  

Graduates range in age from 17 to 84, and come from 40 countries around the globe. Nearly 90 percent of Hudson Valley’s Class of 2023 resides in the Capital Region. The Class of 2023 also includes 60 graduates who are either veterans or active-duty members of the military.

Some graduate highlights include:

Ledina Banushllari, Engineering Science: SUNY Chancellor’s Award winner Ledina Banushllari is an international graduate with a passion for chemistry. Known as a leader with a positive attitude, she has taken on many roles at Hudson Valley, including service as the elected student trustee; as a peer tutor in chemistry; an Admissions tour guide; and a leader for the STEM Outreach Program. She has also served as president of the Engineering Science Club and secretary of the college’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. Banushllari has remarkably earned both a Student Excellence Scholarship and a President’s Innovation Fund Scholarship, and was also recently named to the Phi Theta Kappa All-New York Academic Team, earning the Coca-Cola Academic Team Bronze Scholar award.

Daphne Barber, Early Childhood: Daphne Barber, who graduated this year with an Early Childhood associate degree, graduated from Albany High School in 1987 with hopes of simply being able to care for her then two-year-old daughter. She tried to attend Hudson Valley, but the pressures of being a mom and the need to pay her bills put her dreams on hold. She would return to HVCC for several semesters over the next decade, but eventually would drop out. In 2008, when her second child was 8 months old, she began working in a daycare center and returned to Hudson Valley to earn a Teaching Assistant certificate in 2011. In 2023, Thirty-four years after she first arrived on the Hudson Valley campus as a student, she proudly walked the stage as a graduate, and will pursue a bachelor’s degree starting this fall. As she completed her studies this year, Daphne received a bonus accolade for all of her hard work: one of her philosophy papers received a 2023 Excellence in Academic Writing Award from the Education and Social Sciences Department. 

Michael Galvin, Business Administration: SUNY Chancellor’s Award winner Michael Galvin graduated from Hudson Valley in December 2022 with an associate degree in Business Administration and has since transferred to Columbia University to continue his academic career. During his time at the college, he served as treasurer of the Student Senate; co-chair of the Programming Committee; president of the Entrepreneurship Club; a volunteer contributor on the Middle States re-accreditation team; and was active member of both the Investment Club and PTK. Galvin also led a book drive to help the incarcerated community, collecting 1,000 books that went to the Greene County Correctional Facility. He was also recently named to the Phi Theta Kappa All-New York Academic Team, earning the Coca-Cola Academic Team Bronze Scholar award.

Parmina and Amina Safi, Early Childhood and Business Administration: Sisters Parmina and Amina Safi were born in Afghanistan but were forced to leave with family members during the years of conflict in that country. The two sisters, their younger sister, their mother, and extended family members, were refugees in neighboring Pakistan for years before being accepted into a resettlement program that brought them to the Capital Region. They spoke three languages when they arrived—none of which were English. They worked hard to learn and adjust, and both are now celebrating their graduation: Amina with an Early Childhood degree, and Parmina with a Business Administration degree. Parmina was also honored by her department with the 2023 Excellence in Business Administration Award.

Ellicia Swedish, Business Administration: SUNY Chancellor’s Award winner Ellicia Swedish is a Business Administration graduate. She is involved in several clubs and organizations at the college, and serves as president of the Garden and Horticulture Club; business manager for the Hudsonian, the college’s student-run newspaper; an Admissions tour guide; a board member of the Faculty Student Association; and a volunteer for the Middle States re-accreditation team. She is also an accomplished athlete on both the Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field teams, winning the Hudson Valley Athletics Academic Award for Cross Country in 2021 and the Hudson Valley Athletics Academic Award for Track and Field in 2022.

Hannah Taylor, Architectural Technology: SUNY Chancellor’s Award winner Hannah Taylor is an Architectural Technology graduate. As captain of the Women’s Softball team, she helped lead the Vikings on a 17-game winning streak last year, and is known as a valuable asset and leader of the team. Taylor is known for her dedication to community service and outreach: last fall, she led her teammates to participate in the college’s annual Race Away Stigma 5K on campus, an effort to raise awareness and overcome the negative stigma that can surround mental health concerns. She volunteers both at the local food pantry in Ghent and as a coach for her local high school’s basketball team. She is known for working hard and succeeding as she juggles academics, sports and community service.

Jewel Winant, Theater Arts: Jewel Winant, a Theater Arts graduate from West Sand Lake, was awarded a SUNY Chancellor’s Award in 2020, and graduated in 2023. Jewel maintained a 4.0 GPA and has won five awards for theatre arts during her time at Hudson Valley. She served as treasurer of the Theatre Club and as secretary, treasurer and president of the American Sign Language Club, and as a tutor for the Learning Assistance Center and a tutor and note taker for the Center for Access and Assistive Technology.

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