Jennifer Hayes, Alumna and Underwater Photographer, To Deliver Keynote at JCC's 59th Commencement Ceremony on May 19, 2023
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Jennifer Hayes, Alumna and Underwater Photographer, To Deliver Keynote at JCC's 59th Commencement Ceremony on May 19, 2023

Published: May 15, 2023

Image of Jennifer Hayes
Alumna Jennifer Hayes '81 To Deliver Keynote Address at Jefferson's 59th Commencement Ceremony on May 19, 2023

Jefferson Community College (JCC) will hold its 59th Commencement Ceremony for May 2023 and August 2023 candidates for graduation on Friday, May 19, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. Jennifer Hayes (on right), Class of 1981, of Clayton, will deliver the keynote address.  

Hayes is a widely recognized contributing photographer, author, and speaker for National Geographic Partners who has been awarded multiple awards for her work focused on marine environments. She has spent more than 11,000 hours submerged beneath the surface of interior Africa, local ponds, the Pacific and both polar regions. Her current assignments are rewilding zebra sharks, harp seals as a face of climate change and coral through the lens of time. Hayes is a recipient of the SUNY Environmental Science & Forestry President’s Medal for Natural History, a trustee of the Shark Research Institute, Explorer Club National Fellow, honorary editor and contributor for Ocean Geographic magazine and principal photographer for Elysium Artists for Antarctic, Arctic Expeditions and Coral Triangle Expeditions. Her work has been featured on NPR, CNN, ABC Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, National Geographic TV, Wild and Disney Channel.

In addition to holding an associate degree from Jefferson, Hayes also holds a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Potsdam, a master’s degree from the University of Maryland (College Park) and doctoral research on sturgeons at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She resides in Clayton with her husband and National Geographic photographer, David Doubilet. They co-own UnderSea Images, Inc. with the focus on connecting people to the miracle of our planet.

The student commencement speaker is Kerry M. Elliott, Watertown. Elliott received her teaching assistant certificate in December 2022 and is graduating with her associate in arts (A.A.) degree in humanities and social sciences. She embarked on a ten year career as a dental assistant before seeking a change and enrolling at Jefferson to earn her college degree. Elliott demonstrates a strong commitment to her coursework earning President’s List honors and maintaining a 3.9 GPA at Jefferson. She is a member of the JCC writer’s room club and penned a nonfiction short story titled “Red Maple Leaf” that was printed in the College’s 2023 literary journal, Black River Review, and earning her an Outstanding Creative Writing Contribution Award from the School of Arts and Humanities. After graduation, she anticipates pursuing a non-teaching career in the education field.

The ceremony will take place in the McVean Student Center Gymnasium at 7:00 p.m. and will be video-streamed on the College’s website beginning at 6:45 p.m. Approximately 248 students are eligible to graduate from Jefferson upon successful completion of degree requirements. Participating in Jefferson’s commencement exercise are five candidates for graduation from Jefferson Higher Education Center (JHEC) partner SUNY Potsdam; candidates for graduation will receive their diplomas from SUNY Potsdam. 

Tickets are required for admission to the McVean Student Center Gymnasium. Overflow seating for those without a ticket is available in Sturtz Theater, McVean Student Center. Parking is available in Lot D. Gymnasium doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

A reception for graduates and guests will be held in the Jules Center Commons immediately following the ceremony. Additional commencement information for students and guests is available online or by calling 315-786-2234.

  • Gardens of the Queen Cuba by Doubilet
  • Gulf of St. Lawrence by Doubilet



Story by:

Pamela Dixon

Additional Information:

Public Relations Department, Jefferson Community College, (315) 786-2392, Email Public Relations

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