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Hudson Valley Press

May 28th, 2014

SUNY Orange Commencement Celebrates Graduates

Middletown’s DeAndre Fong, one of the close to 600 graduates, who was awarded a diploma last Thursday night as part of the 64th Commencement of SUNY Orange in Middletown.

MIDDLETOWN- It’s all been worth it for David Talbot.

A war veteran, who fought in two tours, and had to raise his son, while his military wife completed a tour herself, Talbot could not have been more grateful for the "prize" he earned last Thursday night, an Associates Degree Diploma in Computer Science. Talbot was one of close to 600 graduates who was awarded a diploma at SUNY Orange’s 64th Annual Commencement.

Due to late afternoon rain showers, the event was moved indoors, to the Schools’ gymnasium. However, the sun made its appearance just as the graduates filed inside, adding further radiance to the festive occasion. Receiving degrees in three general areas, Liberal Arts, Health Professions and Business/Math/Science/Technology, the graduates will be pursuing careers and/or further education in such fields as; performing arts, criminal justice, radiologic technology, nursing, accounting, business administration, engineering science and a host of others. Regardless of their future plans, many expressed the indelible mark their SUNY Orange experience had on their growth, as both students and individuals. J .R. Caiafa of Pine Island is one of those SUNY Orange students whose life was forever changed. Headed to New York City’s Baruch College to further his study of business in the fall, Caiafa will cary the solid foundation he built at SUNY Orange with him. His mother could not have been more proud (and a little sad) of the son who told her as a young boy that he would never grow up after the age of seven.

"He is my first and only child to graduate from college, and I’m so proud of all of his accomplishments," said Susan Caiafa, as she eagerly awaited seeing her son being awarded a diploma. "Even though SUNY Orange is a stepping stone for him, he will never forget the experience, as he got a great education here that will carry on for a lifetime."

That affinity for the local Middletown College was echoed by Talbot’s mother-in-law, Brenda Gbotoe, who made the trip from her hometown Bronx locale, to see David be handed his diploma.

"He really enjoyed the whole environment here," said Gbotoe. "He met so many people here who helped him to get to where he is today."

Both Talbot and Caiafa officially joined a special bonded group: the 30,000 SUNY Orange college alumni, which has been steadily increasing since the school was founded on June 9, 1950. Not only have the numbers been rising at SUNY Orange, but so too have the College’s offerings. With a new parking lot as well as recently completed Newburgh extension already in place, the Middletown Campus now eagerly awaits yet another exciting addition, the Raleigh Science Center for Engineering. The growth of the school means the same for the surrounding community as well as the potential of the students who enroll.

"You have been given the tools to think for yourself, the most priceless thing of all," Joan H. Wolfe, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, addressed the graduates. "As I was signing the diplomas today, I kept thinking: education is a gift you will be unwrapping the rest of your lives."

Dr. Michele Paradies, a winner of the 2014 State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence, and student trustee Alex De La Rosa were the featured speakers as the College celebrated the more than 800 students who completed their degree requirements during the past academic year. Remarks were also delivered by Joan Wolfe, chair of the SUNY Orange Board of Trustees and Steve Neuhaus, Orange County executive.

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