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Jefferson holds 2017 Fall Commencement

(l-r) Jefferson Community College fall 2017 commencement speaker, John F. Penrose, president Ty A. Stone, and student speaker, Tyrek S. Taper-Smith.


Jefferson Community College celebrated the College’s fourth annual Fall Commencement Ceremony on Friday, December 15, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. in the Robert R. & Jean S. Sturtz Theater. College President Ty A. Stone delivered her first commencement speech since joining Jefferson six months ago.

Jefferson’s class of Fall 2017 graduates is comprised of 193 students who are candidates for graduation in December 2017 pending satisfactory completion of coursework. Seven students received two degrees and/or certificates each bringing the total number of degrees and/certificates awarded to 200.  Jefferson continues to be a strong educational partner of Fort Drum with 53% of the fall 2017 graduating class being comprised of active duty soldiers and their family members, veterans, retirees or members of the Army Reserves. Jefferson’s active duty and veteran students along with faculty and staff veterans participating in the ceremony were distinguished by red, white and blue cords worn in recognition of their service to our country.

Distinguished professor John F. Penrose delivered the keynote address at Friday evening’s commencement exercises. Penrose, professor of chemistry, has been a member of the Jefferson faculty for 38 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Le Moyne College and a master’s degree from Fresno State University. In 1995, he received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and then in 2014, he received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service. This year, he was one of two faculty members from two-year colleges in New York State to be bestowed the prestigious Distinguished Service Professorship, the highest faculty rank established by the SUNY Board of Trustees.

For 10 years, Penrose coached the Lady Cannoneers basketball team, followed by two years as assistant coach of the men’s basketball team. He has served as interim director of athletics and sports information director in addition to serving as advisor of Student Government. Outside of Jefferson, Penrose serves as a writer and reviewer of questions for the Praxis series of teacher certification tests for Educational Testing Services and he serves as a member of the Praxis Science Committee. He has represented the College on numerous SUNY-wide initiatives including the SUNY Group of 200 that developed the Power of SUNY Strategic Plan, Student Completion and Success Task Force, Academic Excellence Committee, and the Transfer Pathways for Chemistry workgroup.

Student Government president, Tyrek S. Taper-Smith, Watertown, spoke on behalf of the student body. Taper-Smith is majoring in humanities and social sciences with a concentration in psychology at Jefferson and anticipates graduating in May 2018 with an associate in arts degree. During his time at Jefferson, Taper-Smith has served as the student member of the College Diversity Workgroup and participated on a four-member panel at the screening of the documentary “13th”. He assisted with planning and executing events such as the College’s annual Fall Festival, Constitution Day, Halloween Party, student diversity forums, and other events. Representing Jefferson, Taper-Smith attended the SUNY Student Assembly Conference as a voting member of the Jefferson student body.

Fourteen candidates for graduation from Jefferson Higher Education Center Partner, SUNY Potsdam, participated in JCC’s fall commencement exercises. Three students completed their Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, two students completed their Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (M.S.Ed.), and nine students completed their Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.).

A reception and photo area for graduates and their guests was held in the Jules Center Commons immediately following the ceremony.