Two students to speak at Commencement
December 11, 2010Tweet
Two students – one undergraduate and one graduate – will speak at Fall Commencement 2010, representing the nearly 400 students who completed their degrees in the summer or fall and are expected to participate in the noontime ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 12, in the Events Center.
Aaron Gold, who will receive his bachelor’s degree in creative writing, will speak on behalf of the undergraduate candidates and Elizabeth Sierra-Zarella, a doctorate in philosophy candidate, will speak on behalf of the graduate students.
Gold, winner of the 2010 Pappy Parker Players Improv Scholarship, has been active as a performer on campus, particularly in the comedy arena. He co-founded and leads an improv workshop and an on-campus improv team—Eddie Kirchner Lives. He also co-formed a campus sketch group, Team Boomsplosion!, and has been performing stand-up comedy since 2007.
A Binghamton resident since eighth grade, Gold checked out a lot of colleges before choosing Binghamton. “This is the one that made me feel at home,” he said. “I felt comfortable and that I had enough opportunities to find my own path.”
A featured member of the Vestal Violators, Rocky Horror Picture Show cast since 1996, Gold has also acted on campus in One for the Road, Love Talker and Dog Sees God. He is a member of the Tae Kwon Do Club, participated in Humans vs. Zombies and was a DJ for WHRW for two years.
Admittedly someone who likes attention, Gold’s path will take him to Brooklyn following Commencement, where he will pursue a career in comedy and acting.
A Clifford D. Clark Fellow, Sierra-Zarella came to Binghamton after earning her bachelor’s degree in political science from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and her master’s degree in counseling from Syracuse University. Sierra-Zarella has conducted critical thinking assessment test (CAT) seminars and taught philosophy at the University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College, where she is currently serving as student support program coordinator. She has also taught at Mohawk Valley Community College and Syracuse University.
Drawn to Binghamton “by its fine reputation as a research center where one can pursue interdisciplinary work using innovative methods in a collegial environment,” Sierra-Zarella is a single mother who grew up in the projects and knows the meaning of struggles. With the guidance of several mentors, she made the journey from GED to PhD. “In my role as graduate student speaker, I see myself as a representative of the struggles, sorrows and triumphs of each Binghamton graduate,” she said.
Following Commencement, Sierra-Zarella will continue to teach, counsel and service students in higher education and expand on her work on the involuntary whiteness of vitiligo, an acquired skin condition similar to albinism that causes pigment loss in the skin and hair. “As a Chicana with universal vitiligo from a very low socioeconomic status background, I find it problematic that working class and poor women of color with disabilities are typically not included in academic and clinical discourses addressing our experiences at the crossroads of race, ethnicity, class, dis/ability, gender and sexual orientation,” said Sierra-Zarella. “In order to add an insider’s perspective to the dialogue, I will continue my autoethnographic and artistic work addressing the lived experience of being a woman of color whose color is gone. I’m also compiling an anthology of short stories, essays and poems by Mexican-American students touching upon various aspects of life in the borderlands of south Texas during this politically tumultuous time.“