Tompkins Cortland Community College will light up Panthers Stadium tonight, honoring graduates who had their year cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lights are traditionally activated at the close of each year’s commencement ceremony at the college.
Tonight would’ve been this year’s class the chance to walk across the stage in caps and gowns to get their diplomas in front of family and friends.
Instead, the stadium will light will be lit up tonight starting at 8:20pm and continue to shine into the hours of dusk.
Another ceremony is being planned, but officials say no potential date is yet determined.
“Commencement is one of the best days of the year here, and at any college or educational institution,” said A.D. Mick McDaniel, the man behind the idea of turning on the lights. “We’re all disappointed by the way our semester ended, but we want to use this little gesture as a way of letting our College community know we haven’t forgotten what this day was supposed to be. This graduating class had to overcome challenges unlike any before, and we couldn’t be more proud.”
Tonight will be the first time Panthers Stadium will light up since the statewide pause order took effect in March.
SUNY Cortland also lit up their athletic complex for graduating students earlier this month.
Virtual commencement celebrations are planned for Tuesday through Friday of next week (May 26-29).
Thanks to a student petition, which picked up more than two thousand signatures, graduates may also get the chance to walk across the stage in a separate event of their own next spring.
The petition’s author asked for an earlier date sometime in the fall, which the school says isn’t possible at this time.
A survey is now being sent to the SUNY Cortland community to gauge exactly how many ceremonies would be needed next year.
Meanwhile, both Cortland and TC3 had students named yesterday as recipients of the State University of New York’s annual Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence.
SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson honored 213 students from across the state, including from Cortland and two from TC3.
In place of the annual in-person ceremony, Chancellor Johnson and campuses recognized their achievements at a virtual video celebration shared with families, campus presidents, staff, and faculty.
Asha Goldberg (Brandon, Florida)
Early Childhood & Childhood Education
Asha Goldberg truly exemplifies more than what this honorary denotes.
Whether she is tutoring a young student, helping a peer, working to better a community, guiding others, or being a friend, her heart beats gratitude. Along with her academic excellence, creative spirit, empowering campus involvement, and aptitude toward her career goals, she has consistently given of herself to many.
Asha embraces service leaderships, her smile is authentic, and she is very worthy of this honor.
Alyson Nilsen (Bohemia, New York)
Inclusive Education and Spanish with TESOL minor
Alyson Nilsen has demonstrated excellence in academics alongside service to the campus and community.
She is dedicated to becoming a truly inclusive educator, and has pursued additional academic study in Spanish, research opportunities, and volunteer positions in order to fulfill this goal.
Alyson has excelled as a resident advisor, has been a leader in Cortland’s Urban Recruitment of Educators (CURE) Program and has proven herself to be an accomplished teaching assistant, student researcher and campus employee.
Kiley Stoj (Orchard Park, Buffalo)
Anthropology and Biology
Kiley graduates with degrees in anthropology and biology, and plans to pursue a doctorate in ethnobotany.
Active in field work, Kiley studied milkweed hybridization at Cortland. She examined Mimbres dwellings in Arizona, and presented research at Society American Archeology National Conference. She participated in a conservation internship in India as well.
Recognized for her academics, Kiley is a member of honors societies, a recipient of the Fulbright-Nehru Student Research grant, and was on Cortland’s President’s List.
She also participates in rock climbing and community outreach programs.
Breanna Washington (Queens, New York)
Inclusive Education Childhood Social Sciences
Breanna Washington is a scholar, leader, and champion for positive change.
She demonstrated her commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion through Cortland’s Urban Recruitment of Educators (C.U.R.E.) Program and leadership in multiple campus organizations.
She participated in research focused on promoting positive representations of students with incarcerated family members, which she presented at a national conference.
Breanna accomplished all of this while working as a resident assistant and maintaining a 3.87 GPA.
Lana Esho (Nigeria)
Lana has excelled academically, while serving in multiple leadership roles on campus.
She is the youngest Student Trustee on our campus in recent history, is a member and is on the executive board of Phi Theta Kappa, and serves in a leadership role in the Student Government Association.
Casey Smith (Candor, New York)
Casey has been on the Dean’s List consecutively while at TC3, while serving on the Executive Board of the Student Government Association.
He is an involved member of the FSA Board of Directors, while maintaining employment and regular volunteerism.