SJC Long Island held a Military Graduate Recognition Ceremony on March 15 to congratulate the 37 student veterans expected to graduate from the College in May.
“Today, I congratulate you on your academic success, and I also thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey and giving me the opportunity to support you, to guide you, to teach you and to care about you,” said Erin D’Eletto, director of the Office of Military and Veteran Services.
Officials Honor Veterans
Among the people in attendance were Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone, former U.S. Rep Timothy Bishop, Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency Director Thomas Ronayne, Suffolk County American Legion Chaplain Tom Bergin and members of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), including SJC alumna Sabrina Lacey, current Suffolk County VFW commander.
“I came tonight not just to give an invocation, but to thank you, because at one time during your life, you were willing to sacrifice that life so that this country and other people may live,” Bergin said. “Many times I have said because of you, our lives are free. Because of you, this country lives. Because of you, the world has been blessed.”
Veterans Honored by Dr. Turgeon
Interim Executive Dean Wendy Turgeon, Ph.D., formally bestowed upon each student the military chords: a symbol of their honorable military service and of their academic achievement. The ceremony was an opportunity for St. Joseph’s to illustrate its proud support of its strong student veteran presence at SJC Long Island and SJC Brooklyn.
Graduating senior Kyle Watts, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and is the two-term president of SJC Long Island’s Student Veterans of America, delivered an empowering speech about what it’s like being a student veteran.
Veteran’s Big Check
“As a student veteran, I always felt behind, being nontraditional and years older than my peers,” he said. “But the relationships that I’ve formed here at St. Joe’s showed me that none of that mattered. My story, I’m sure, is not unlike the others. Everyone takes different paths to get where they’re going. Sometimes it takes a little longer than usual. Reflecting on my life of checked boxes and half-checked boxes, I’m proud to say: College graduate – check!”
In May, 64 student veterans are expected to graduate from St. Joseph’s College.