(l-r) Savanna M. Baker, Student Commencement Speaker, Dr. Ty A. Stone, College President, and Kim H. Martusewicz, Jefferson County Court Judge and Distinguished Alumni
Jefferson Community College (JCC) held its Fall Commencement Ceremony for December candidates for graduation on Thursday, December 19, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. in the McVean Student Center Gymnasium. The fall 2019 graduating class is comprised of 176 students who are candidates for graduation pending satisfactory completion of coursework. Four students received more than one degree and/or certificate bringing the total number awarded to 180.
Approximately 49% of fall graduates are first generation students (meaning neither parent nor guardian completed a bachelor’s degree), 20% of graduates are over the age of thirty, 14 graduates are members of JCC’s Tau Xi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society, and 2 graduates are Honor’s Program participants. Jefferson continues to be a strong educational partner to Fort Drum with 39% of fall 2019 graduates consisting of combined active duty soldiers and family members, veterans, retirees and members of the Army Reserves. Distinguished during the ceremony, Jefferson’s active duty and veteran students, along with faculty and staff veterans, wore red, white and blue cords in recognition of their service to our country.
Jefferson County Court Judge and Distinguished Alumni, Kim H. Martusewicz, delivered the keynote address at the commencement exercises. Judge Martusewicz has worked 20 years in private law practice, 14 as part-time Theresa Town Justice, and 20 years as Jefferson County Court Judge. During his tenure, Judge Martusewicz presided over more than 10,000 felony cases, earning an outstanding appellate record, and is credited with creating Drug Court, a substance abuse rehabilitation program for nonviolent offenders.
Judge Martusewicz was the first alumnus to be appointed to Jefferson’s Board of Trustees where he served 18 years (1981-1999) and was later granted status as Trustee Emeritus. Additionally, he taught criminal justice as an adjunct instructor at Jefferson for seven years. He is a former Board member of WNPE/WNPI, the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District, NOW (Neighbors of Watertown) and Jefferson County Community Services Board. In 1994, Judge Martusewicz received the Distinguished Service Award from Jefferson and was named to the SUNY Honor Roll. Along with his associate’s degree from Jefferson, Judge Martusewicz holds a bachelor’s degree in government and a master’s degree in educational administration, both from St. Lawrence University, and a Juris Doctor degree from Western New England University.
In his Commencement address, Judge Martusewicz said, “Integrity is real. It is important and it is worth studying about! I would strongly urge you to set aside a little time on December 19 every year from now on (during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season) to do a couple of things. First, do something nice for yourself (or for someone else if that makes you feel good) to remind you of the joy of success that you feel in this place tonight! Secondly, take stock of your own personal code of behavior and recommit yourselves to do the right thing knowing that integrity matters!”
The student speaker was Savanna M. Baker, Black River, Student Government president for the 2019-2020 academic year. Baker is majoring in humanities and social sciences at Jefferson and is a member of the Tau Xi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. As Student Government president, Baker assists with planning and executing campus events. She is a member of the College’s campus life committee serving as a strong voice for students, advocating for changes in food service. Additionally, Baker is a returning sophomore on the JCC volleyball team. This year, she and her teammates won the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Regional Championship and advanced to the NJCAA National Tournament held in Minnesota. She anticipates graduating from Jefferson in May 2020 and transferring to the University of Albany.
Nine candidates for graduation from Jefferson Higher Education Center (JHEC) partner SUNY Potsdam, two candidates for graduation from JHEC partner SUNY Empire State College, and one candidate for graduation from JHEC partner Bryant and Stratton College participated in Jefferson’s Commencement exercise and received their bachelor’s/master’s degree from each respective institution.