JCC Holds 59th Commencement Ceremony on May 19, 2023
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JCC Holds 59th Commencement Ceremony on May 19, 2023

Published: May 22, 2023

Jefferson Community College (JCC) held 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 259 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 260.

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, were distinguished with red, white, and blue cords worn in recognition of their service to our country. Six students were recognized for participating in JCC’s optional Honors Program and approximately 32 students were recognized for joining JCC’s Tau Xi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two year colleges.

Image of Jennifer Hayes and Dan Dupee
Jennifer Hayes '81, Commencement Keynote Speaker and National Geographic Underwater Photographer and Daniel J. Dupee, II, Administrator-in-Charge

The College was 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. She holds an associate’s degree from Jefferson, 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. 


Image of Daniel Dupee and Kerry Elliott
Daniel J. Dupee, II, Administrator-in-Charge, and Kerry M. Elliott, Commencement Student Speaker

The student commencement speaker was Kerry M. Elliott, Watertown. Elliott received her teaching assistant certificate in December 2022 and graduated 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 maintains a 3.9 GPA and received President’s List honors. 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, earning 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.


Image of Daniel Dupee, Kaela Mellowship and Kaylee-Lynn Beleza
Recipients of the 2023 Chancellor's Awards for Student Excellence, Kaela M. Mellowship (left), Daniel J. Dupee, II, Administrator-in-Charge, and Kaylee-Lynn Brooke Beleza (right) 

Several students, faculty and staff were recognized with academic awards and honors during the commencement exercises. Two candidates for graduation were 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 graduated with her associate in science degree in sports management and Mellowship graduated with her associate in science (A.S.) degree in business administration. 

Image of Page Schultz
Daniel J. Dupee, II, Administrator-in-Charge, and Paige M. Schultz, Named to  PTK All-New York Academic Team

Paige M. Schultz, Watertown, was recognized for being named to the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) 2023 All-New York Academic Team. To be chosen for the All-New York Academic Team, students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.25 and have a history of scholarly achievement and outstanding service to campus or community. Schultz graduated with her associate in arts degree in humanities and social sciences, concentration in psychology. She received President’s List or Dean’s List honors every semester at JCC and was a two-time Honors Program student of the month. She participated in JCC’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), served as an EOP mentor, EOP Summer Institute ambassador, admissions ambassador and as a student member of the Academic Standards Committee. In addition to PTK, she is also a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. Furthermore, she is the recipient of the Norman R. McConney, Jr., Award for EOP student excellence and, the Outstanding Psychology Student and Outstanding Honors Program Student Awards. Schultz anticipates earning a bachelor’s degree and traveling with Doctors Without Borders. 

The Jefferson Community College Honors Program offers students with exceptional academic skills the opportunity to receive enriched instruction and six candidates for graduation were 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 graduated 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 were 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 students were recognized for graduating with their bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SUNY Potsdam, Jefferson Higher Education Center (JHEC) partner and received their diplomas from SUNY Potsdam. 

In December 2022, Jefferson Community College honored 111 candidates for graduation, combined with 260 students who are candidates for graduation in May or August of 2023, bringing the total of graduates for the 2022 – 2023 academic year to 371. 


Story by:

Pamela Dixon

Additional Information:

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

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