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JCC graduates 591 students

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Just as 591 Jefferson Community College students were about to graduate, commencement speaker Stephen H. Can gave them one last lesson: the power of three.

Mr. Can, class of 1980 and creator of the Jefferson-Can Scholars Program, said the best things come in threes, such as letters, groupings of items and pieces of advice, at the college’s 49th commencement Friday night.

“If you keep it simple by thinking in threes, you will do well,” he said.

What students were left with was:

n “Find out what you really love doing and do it great.”

n “Take risks. This is uncomfortable. You will fail. It’s OK.”

n “Enjoy life. You only get one.”

Mr. Can also received the Jefferson Citation, an award for a person who shows a commitment to education and the college’s mission. He formed the Jefferson-Can program in 2007 to give JCC scholarships to students in the top 15 percent of their graduating class.

However, a fair percentage of the students at JCC are adult learners. The college recognized that by choosing Robert E. Bowen, who earned an associate of arts and sciences degree in chemical dependency and an associate of sciences degree in human services, as this year’s student speaker. The self-described jack-of-all-trades is a father, husband and vice president of the campus Human Services Club. He has also maintained a spot on the President’s List while at the college.

Just as Mr. Bowen shared his personal milestone, the college shared its own: JCC issued its 20,000th diploma. The college has been open 52 years.

President Carole A. McCoy asked, “Will the student who received the 20,000th degree please stand up?”

Every graduation candidate stood up to claim it.

“We’re proud of each and every one of those 20,000 graduates,” Mrs. McCoy said.

Just like Mr. Bowen, many students have worked diligently to earn their associate degree from JCC.

“It’s a long time coming,” said Cape Vincent resident Julie R. Schindler, 48. “I took a 30-year hiatus.”

The individual studies graduate said life had gotten in the way when she graduated from high school.

“Nervous,” said Henderson resident Colleen M. Bellinger, 34, describing her feelings. “I’m excited. This is the next chapter in my life.”

She received an associate degree in business administration and hopes to get into the workforce as soon as possible.

In addition to the associate degree graduates, 16 students received bachelor’s degrees from Keuka College, one of JCC’s higher education partners. Mrs. McCoy said of the 16, 14 students had previously graduated with JCC diplomas.

One of those students is Adams Center resident Timothy W. Larkin Jr., 32.

“I feel great,” he said before receiving a bachelor’s degree in social work. “Glad it’s over with.”

He plans to come back to JCC in the fall for the Greater Rochester Collaborative Master of Social Work program among the community college, SUNY Brockport and Nazareth College in the Rochester area. The program was added to the college’s higher education program last week.

“Congratulations to us, class of 2013,” Mr. Bowen said during his speech. “Go Cannoneers!”

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