Saturday, May 14, 2016

Alfred University graduates urged to: ‘Do what you love. Do it a lot. Do it well.’

Dr. Charles M. Edmondson (left), who is retiring as the 13th president of Alfred University (AU) at the end of June, presided over his final Commencement ceremony Saturday. Keynote speaker at the event was Dr. Susan Kelleher – “Dr. K” to her National Geographic television audience – a 1991 AU alumna who is an avian and exotic animal veterinarian and owner of Broward Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital, Deerfield, FL. She was awarded a Doctor of Science, honoris causa degree in recognition of her service and dedication to her profession and loyalty to her alma mater. The award was presented by Dr. Wesley Bentz (right), professor emeritus of chemistry. The University Board of Trustees also awarded an honorary degree to Edmondson -  Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
(Alfred University photo by Rick McLay)
ALFRED, NY, May 2016 – “Do what you love. Do it a lot. Do it well.”
Those were the guiding principles Dr. Susan Kelleher – “Dr. K” to those who watch her National Geographic television show “Dr. K’s Exotic Animal ER” – gave to the Alfred University (AU) Class of 2016 Saturday (May 14) morning in the McLane Center on campus.
And, oh yes, remember, she told the graduates, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. Her philosophy: “I did it because I didn’t know it couldn’t be done!”
Kelleher, a 1991 AU alumna, noted “even failures are doorways, so don’t stop trying” and “don’t take anything personal.” The driver who cuts you off in traffic, the unpleasant store clerk, the impatient receptionist – “they have nothing to do with me” it’s that they are having a tough time that day. Follow that advice with “expectation management,” from others and yourself, and “chances are expectations will meet reality.” 
And finally, said Kelleher, “trust your gut feeling” and “you’ll be okay.”
The Commencement exercises marked the culmination of the University’s 180th year, as well as the final official event for Dr. Charles M. Edmondson’s tenure as the 13th president of AU. Edmondson, who presided throughout the ceremony, will retire June 30.
Prior to the keynote Commencement address, the AU Board of Trustees, via Gene M. Bernstein, a University trustee, former chairman of the board, and a member of the Class of ’69, awarded Edmondson with an honorary degree – Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
An honorary degree – Doctor of Science, honoris causa – was also presented to Kelleher by Dr. Wesley Bentz, professor emeritus of chemistry, in recognition of her service and dedication to her profession and loyalty to her alma mater.
Dr. W. Richard Stephens Jr., provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, served as master of ceremonies for the program during which 13 doctoral degrees; 87 master’s degrees, 408 bachelor’s degrees; and 29 certificates of advanced studies (credentials allowing practice professionally as a counselor) were awarded. (An additional 111 master’s degrees and 30 certificates of advanced studies will be awarded June 3 at Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts during graduation ceremonies for students in the University’s Downstate Program.)
Four students were recognized during the ceremony for achieving top honors in their particular areas of study. They were part of the official stage party and seated on the Commencement platform.
Graduating with a 3.95 GPA (grade point average - out of a possible 4.0) in chemistry from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a bachelor of arts degree was Emma Jackson Robinson from East Amherst, a graduate of Williamsville High School North. She is a daughter of Christopher and Cynthia Robinson.
Also earning a 3.95 GPA over four years was Kathryn Elizabeth Tierney from Lewiston, a ceramic engineering major who earned a bachelor of science degree from the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering. She is a daughter of Scott and Diana Tierney and a graduate of Lewiston-Porter Senior High School.
Julie Stephanee Canova of Maspeth, a business administration major earning a bachelor of science degree from the College of Professional Studies tallied a 3.92 GPA. The daughter of Jeffrey Canova and Celeste Walicki, she is a graduate of Mary Louis Academy.

Also earning a 3.92 GPA was Jason George Dearing, a bachelor fine arts degree recipient majoring in art and design in the School of Art and Design. Dearing, from Whitehall, PA, is a son of Glenn and Laura Dearing and a graduate of Union Endicott High School.
Leading the procession of more than 500 degree candidates, faculty, University administrators, and members of the Board of Trustees was faculty member John P. Gill, professor of ceramics, serving as grand marshal. The assembly processed and recessed to music provided by the AU Symphonic Band under the direction of Dr. Christopher Foster, associate professor of music/director of bands.
The program opened with the National Anthem led by graduating seniors Rachel Romack, a psychology and theater major from Brooktondale, and Dearing.
The Rev. Laurie J. DeMott, campus interfaith adviser and minister of the Union University Church, Alfred, provided the invocation and benediction for the ceremony.
Kelleher, an avian and exotic animal veterinarian and owner of Broward Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital, Deerfield, FL, has been practicing since 1995 following her graduation from the University of Tennessee’s veterinary medicine program.
Originally from Buffalo, Kelleher knew growing up that she wanted to be a veterinarian. As a high school student and throughout her years at AU, she volunteered extensively at the Buffalo Zoo.  As a veterinary student, she gained experience working at Clinch River Raptor Center as a weekend volunteer. After graduating from veterinary school, Kelleher spent two months in San Diego under the mentorship of Dr. Jeff Jenkins in his private practice devoted solely to the care of avian and exotic pets. Relocating to South Florida, she worked in small animal practices for four years before opening her own practice, pursuing her passion for avian and exotic pets.
Not only does she have her own practice and reality show, but she donates her unique experience and expertise to a number of wildlife facilities throughout Florida, including the South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale, where she has been a volunteer for 14 years. She works closely with Dr. Renata Schneider, the director of wildlife rehabilitation, who was Dr. K’s first intern in 2002. At Butterfly World in Pompano Beach, where she has been a volunteer for 17 years, Kelleher serves as the official avian veterinarian.
Highly regarded in her field, Kelleher has published many articles, written chapters, and lectured at meetings extensively throughout the United States and England on avian and exotic animal medicine. Today she is one of the few exotic animal veterinarians using laser therapy extensively to treat a variety of conditions in her avian and exotic pets and wildlife.
Following Kelleher’s address and the conferment of the master’s degrees by Dr. Nancy Evangelista, associate provost for graduate and professional studies, the 2016 Marlin Miller Outstanding Seniors – Jasmine A. Ramon, a communication studies major with Spanish, English, and women and gender studies minors, from Newburgh, and Ryan O. Bane, a fine arts major with concentrations in ceramic tile and digital printmaking and a minor in art education, from Fairport - were each introduced by Kathy Woughter, vice president for Student Affairs. The senior awards are named for Miller, AU Class of 1954, a current member and former chairman of the University Board of Trustees.
The baccalaureate degrees were presented by Dr. Louis Lichtman, dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Angie To, associate professor, art Foundations Program (filling in for Gerar Edizel, dean, School of Art and Design); Dr. Doreen Edwards, dean, Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering; and  Evangelista, dean, College of Professional Studies.
Prior to concluding remarks by Edmondson, Elizabeth Reina, AU Class of 2002, president of the Alumni Association, inducted the newest members into the organization.
The 2016 Commencement ceremony concluded with a rendition of the Alma Mater by eight students – Kallie Clapper, senior, an environmental studies major from Conklin; Lucretia Butti, senior, from Switzerland, who majored in political science and comparative cultures;  Dearing; Richard De Fabrizio, a junior psychology major; Morgan Flick of Honeoye, a senior interdisciplinary art major; Romack; Katrina Scheurer, Webster, a senior art and design major; and Abigail Schmeichel from Lancaster, a senior environmental studies major – and the benediction by DeMott.
A number of faculty members served as Commencement marshals, including Dr. Fredric Beaudry, assistant professor, environmental science; Sarah M. Blood, assistant professor of glass; Dr. William Carty, professor of materials science and engineering; Dr. Elizabeth Ann Dobie, professor of art theory; Karen M. Donnellan, assistant professor of glass; Dr. Juliana Gray, associate professor of English; Dr. Theresa Gunn, assistant professor of accountancy; Matthew L. Kelleher, assistant professor of ceramics; Josh Long, clinical instructor, athletic training; Dr. Scott Misture, Inamori Professor of Ceramic Engineering and Materials Science; Susan P. Morehouse, professor of English; Dr. Joseph A. Petrillo, associate professor of mathematics; Dr. Steven M. Pilgrim, professor of materials science and engineering; Dr. Joseph W. Rosiczkowski, professor of mechanical engineering; Dr. G. David Toot, professor of physics; Kelly Williams, assistant professor of education; and Christopher Yartym, clinical instructor, athletic training.