JCC to Hold Spring Commencement on May 19, 2023
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JCC to Hold Spring Commencement on May 19, 2023

Published: May 18, 2023

Jefferson Community College (JCC) will hold its 59th annual spring Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 19, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. in the McVean Student Center Gymnasium. Jefferson’s Class of 2023 is comprised of 258 students who are May 2023 and August 2023 candidates for graduation, pending satisfactory completion of coursework. One student is a candidate for two degrees, bringing the total number of degrees and certificates awarded to 259.

Jefferson’s class of 2023 has a wide age range, from 18 to 59, with one-third of class members being 25 and older. JCC maintains a strong educational partnership with Fort Drum. In the class of 2023, 39% of the students are military-affiliated. During the ceremony, they, along with faculty and staff veterans, will be distinguished by wearing red, white, and blue cords in recognition of their service to our country. Six students will be recognized for participating in JCC’s optional Honors Program and approximately 32 students are members of JCC’s Tau Xi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two year colleges.

The College is honored to have alumna and National Geographic Underwater Photographer, Jennifer Hayes ’81, of Clayton, deliver the keynote address at the commencement exercises.   

Hayes is a widely recognized contributing photographer, author, and speaker for National Geographic Partners. She 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 media outlets including NPR, CNN, ABC Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, National Geographic TV, Wild and Disney Channel. In addition to holding an associate’s 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. 

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. Her story earned her an Outstanding Creative Writing Contribution Award from the School of Arts and Humanities. After graduation, Elliott anticipates pursuing a non-teaching career in the education field.

Several students, faculty and staff will be recognized with academic awards and honors during the commencement exercises.

Two candidates for graduation will be recognized for receiving the State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. This award acknowledges students who have best demonstrated the integration of academic excellence with other aspects of their lives: community service, athletics, creative and performing arts, leadership and career achievement. Kaylee-Lynn Brooke Beleza, Amherstview, Canada, and Kaela M. Mellowship, Alexandria Bay, are recipients of the 2023 Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence.

Beleza will be graduating with her associate in science (A.S.) degree in sports management. She was named to the President’s List or Dean’s List every semester, and is a member of the JCC softball team. She received Athlete of the Week honors, was named to the National Junior College Athletic Association All-Region Softball 2nd Team and Mid-State Athletic Conference All-Conference Softball Team. In addition to her athletic excellence, she also serves as a resident assistant in East Hall. Furthermore, Beleza is a member of the Jefferson Cast and can be seen in a variety of promotional publications as well as on the College website. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in sports management. 

Mellowship is graduating with her associate in science (A.S.) degree in business administration. Starting college as a Jefferson-Can Scholar due to her academic success in high school, Mellowship has continued to excel academically, maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA and earning President's List honors every semester. Mellowship volunteered her time to assist the JCC food pantry Thanksgiving Basket program, served as president of the business, leadership and career skills club and is a member of the College’s Iota Eta Chapter of Alpha Beta Gamma National Business Honor Society. Mellowship plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business administration from SUNY Potsdam through the College’s Higher Education Center.

The Jefferson Community College Honors Program offers students with exceptional academic skills the opportunity to receive enriched instruction and six candidates for graduation will be recognized for completing this program. Honors program students elect three courses and enhance them as Honors Options by choosing a project for each and working directly with a faculty member to provide a unique and rewarding educational experience. Members of the class of 2023 who will graduate with Honors Program designation are Hannah E. Cooley of Carthage, Emma M. Halsey of Sandy Creek, Cheyenne T. Hammond of Mannsville, Michael W. Langridge of Alexandria Bay, Asia J. Rutherford of Watertown and Paige M. Schultz of Watertown. 

Four members of Jefferson’s faculty/staff will be recognized as recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence. The Chancellor’s Awards recognize extraordinary achievement and encourage the continuation of excellence. Lucinda D. Barbour, Adams Center, Professor of Art, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching; Lawrence M. Danforth, Corning, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service; Steven J. Kellogg, Dexter, Adjunct Instructor of History, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching; and Deanna L. Lothrop, Chaumont, C-STEP Coordinator, received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service. 

Five candidates for graduation from SUNY Potsdam, Jefferson Higher Education Center (JHEC) partner, will be participating in the ceremony and receiving their diplomas from SUNY Potsdam. 

The ceremony will be video-streamed on the College’s website beginning at 6:45 p.m. After the ceremony, graduates will be lead to a professional photo shoot, and a reception immediately following.  



Story by:

Pamela Dixon

Additional Information:

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

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