FMCC graduates encouraged to aid their communities

JOHNSTOWN – Students ready to graduate filled the auditorium at Fulton-Montgomery Community College on Friday for the 2014 commencement ceremony.

More than 230 members of the graduating class attended the ceremony Friday night, surrounded by friends, family and loved ones.

FMCC President Dustin Swanger opened the ceremony, thanking those who came and getting right to the heart of the night’s event.

“Tonight represents the end of a journey; a journey of higher education. However, it is also a beginning, the start of your future,” Swanger said. “Lady Nancy Astor said real education should educate us out of self into something far finer, into a selflessness which links us with all humanity. I hope that you use the education that you have gained at FM in order to build a more civil world and a better community, no matter where you choose to live.”

Swanger said the graduates now had the ability to thrive in work, citizenship and leadership, and wished the students luck going into the future.

Casey Madsen, who earned an associate degree in radiologic technology, spoke about how nervous she was when she started her career at FMCC, saying she did not know whether to laugh or cry after her first physics class.

“My mixed emotions of college soon became very clear to me: my choice to attend FMCC has proven repeatedly to be one of the best decisions I have made. My time here at FM has truly changed my life,” Madsen said.

Madsen said while FM is a small college, there is never a lack of opportunities, noting some of the graduates are the first in their family to receive a college degree.

U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson celebrated the graduates’ achievements.

“This is a moment in our very busy lives to take inventory and pause to reflect at just what an awesome achievement this is,” he said.

Gibson said he was optimistic about the future and this generation, partially because of the people attending the graduation.

“I want to say this; we need you. We are excited about you. About your choices,” Gibson said.

Christopher Howard, a nursing major, said he planned on working in a surgical unit in a hospital.

“The program was hard, but I learned a lot and I’m really glad that I am graduating,” Howard said.

Nichole Cozzolino, a liberal arts and science major, said finishing after 3 1/2 years was awesome.

“My goal is to start Empire State College in the fall for community and human service,” Cozzolino said. “…I work full time and raise my son, so I do my classes at night.”

Cozzolino said she is not nervous about the future.