Winter Commencement 2013: Embracing Community

Several hundred graduates crossed the stage Saturday, Dec. 14, in SUNY Plattsburgh’s 2013 winter commencement. In keeping with tradition, the ceremony featured remarks by a member of the graduating class. Her remarks are excerpted below:

Excerpts from Winter 2013 Commencement Address
by Danielle K. Johnson

It has more cows than people. …

That’s one way I’ve heard my hometown described, summing up centuries of rich agricultural history with “it has more cows than people.” As soon as college is in sight you can hear the high school students rejoicing with “I can't wait to get out of here,” and “I never want to be stuck living in Malone.” …

Photo of SUNY Plattsburgh students at Winter 2013 CommencementNot enough of us are proud of where we live. It's too big, too small, has too much crime or not enough to do. The traits we attribute to our community in passing conversations begin to stick in our minds as fact, highlighting the negative and diminishing the positive .

No one seems to want to stand up for their community anymore. …

During our years here in Plattsburgh (which I will still call a city no matter how many times I get laughed at), I overheard a great deal of complaining and joking about how small it is, how it is nothing compared to Burlington or Montreal and so on.

I always shook my head. The Plattsburgh community is what made SUNY Plattsburgh such a wonderful place to get an education. …

Opportunities for a part time job, volunteer work or just something fun to do in a safe environment were always just down the road. From apple orchards and the beach, to hiking trails and ski resorts, all only a short drive away. Get stranded by a flat tire? Chances are someone will stop to help in less than five minutes. …
 

A Challenge

Embrace where you are.

Don't hide in your apartment; don't avoid eye contact with your neighbors; don't complain about something and then do nothing about it.

I challenge you, degree in hand, to go back and make a community out of your new home. Instead of seeing yourself as “stuck,” get involved. Join a committee, volunteer, get to know your neighbors. Make yourself known and be a leader. Don't become just a face in the crowd, going through the daily motions and keeping to yourself. …

Getting Past the Status Quo

Can't think of anything to be proud of? Change it.

We are no longer surly teenagers; we have the education and the opportunity to change things for the better.

Will it be easy? No, probably not. There may be very stubborn people in our way, hard set on the way things are because that’s how it’s always been done. …

If you are confident in your ideas then press on. …

We have a great deal to offer any community out there; it's just getting past the status quo and taking those first steps to getting involved. …

Even if you don’t plan on staying there for the rest of your life, make a positive impact while you are there. Get involved, embrace your community and challenge your peers to do the same. …

 

Danielle K. Johnson graduated this December cum laude with a degree in public relations. During her time at SUNY Plattsburgh, the native of Malone, N.Y. took part in Shine On!, a program designed to build resilience in elementary-aged girls; worked as a PR intern for the City of Plattsburgh Recreation Department; served as an office and marketing assistant for Plattsburgh’s Imaginarium Children’s Museum; and helped with a viral media campaign for a nonprofit working toward the treatment and cure of a condition that starts in childhood and results in progressive nerve death. She was also the recipient of many honors including an academic excellence scholarship, a community service scholarship and memberships in Lambda Pi Eta and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies.


 

 

Attention New Graduates:

Join the PAC. The Plattsburgh Alumni Community will help you network, stay in touch with your friends and keep abreast of what is happening at the college.
 

 

Contact Information

For more information about Winter 2012 Commencement, please contact:

Office of the President
Office: 159 Hawkins Hall
Address: 101 Broad Street, Plattsburgh, New York 12901

Phone: (518) 564-2010
Fax: (518) 564-3932
Email: president_office@plattsburgh.edu