It was the professors that made Western Connecticut State University great, graduates said as they marched to receive their degrees during the graduation ceremony May 22.
“The choir leader at my high school recommended it because of the voice faculty here,” said Jacquelyn Stearns, 21, of Old Saybrook, a music major. “I’m happy with the experience I had here. Next is auditions, grad school, a young artist program?”
She isn’t certain about tomorrow. Stearns mentioned Professor Margaret Astrup by name for thanks.
Matt Hennessy, 22, of Stratford, said he picked WestConn, because he was studying in high school with a graduate from the university.
“I heard really good things about the program. It really lived up to it,” Hennessy said.
“I’ve seen my own professor perform in New York City. They walk the walk.”
For Eric Dolecki, 22, of Terryville, he said the location, price, size and the faculty were the right fit. He earned his degree in music education.
“I went up to UConn, and it was just too big,” Dolecki said. “It exceeded my expectations.”
Danbury’s Western Connecticut State University awarded roughly 1,000 undergraduate degrees Sunday under cloudy skies in front of a crowd of about 5,000 people.
Ariel Perez, 26, and Angelina Medina, 23, both from Danbury, graduated together, and plan to marry in July.
Medina graduated in secondary education and already interviewed for a job teaching Spanish. Perez works at the Savings Bank of Danbury, and he studied finance in hopes of advancing in his career.
The University also awarded Allan Houston, assistant general manager for the New York Knicks, an honorary degree for his philanthropic in founding the Legacy Foundation, which works to build strong families, entrepreneurship, education and life skills.
“Doctor Houston. I don’t know if I’ll get used to that,” Houston said in his graduation speech. Houston told students he is more than just the points he scored on the basketball court, and they are more than the jobs they’ll get.
Students were thinking about the jobs they might land in the future during graduation, but they were also thinking about what they were losing as they left the university.
“I’ll miss the experience with the friends and faculty I had,” said Samuel Blanchette, 21, of Shelton, who may return to WCSU for a second degree. He earned one in music, and he is considering returning for a second in accounting.
“My parents were very supportive,” Blanchette said.
For Sebbie Achaibar, 22, of Danbury, a finance major, the future is continuing her work at the Savings Bank of Danbury. She also thanked her teachers, in particular Sara Deloughy, Ph.D., in Finance.
“She was always helpful,” Achaibar said.