April 16, 2024
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CCPA Class of 2023 urged to make a difference in the world at Commencement ceremony

Binghamton University celebrates the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) Class of 2023

The Binghamton University College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) celebrated the Class of 2023, leaving students with the message that their help was needed now more than ever to make a difference in the world.

“Given the climate in which we find ourselves, I want to underscore the crucial, difficult work that you, our CCPA graduates, are now prepared to undertake at this particularly challenging time in the world,” said CCPA Dean Laura Bronstein to the over 300 students earning their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the CCPA Commencement ceremony Sunday, May 14.

With the number of issues facing the world, Bronstein commended the students for committing themselves to worthy causes and careers.

“Circumstances like these stir CCPA students to give up careers where you might make more money to devote yourselves to work that makes the world a more just and peaceful place, especially for those most in need,” she said. “We need you in our government, in our schools, in our universities and in our hospitals. We need you everywhere.”

Suleima Rivas, the graduate student speaker for the ceremony, is a clear example of this. Formerly working in advertisement sales, Rivas reevaluated what she wanted to do with her career during the pandemic and realized her passion for public service, which led her to CCPA’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program.

Rivas told her fellow graduates that while the unknowns of life after college are scary, they also present an opportunity.

“It allows us to show our courage. It forces us to challenge what is expected of us. Today, I challenge you to take a moment to consider who we were when we entered this program, who we are now and how we reflect the communities that we are a part of no matter where we find that community,” she said.

Rivas encouraged her fellow graduates to show their courage in smalls ways, such as:

  • honoring how far they’ve come instead of always feeling like they need to be “on”;
  • diving into the discomfort of things, even if there is a chance of rejection;
  • embracing complicated feelings, emotions and moments that make us human; and
  • giving themselves grace.

“How do we proceed from here? What now? That’s the million-dollar question,” she said. “I don’t know the answer to that, and that’s okay. I have a feeling we have become very comfortable with the unknowns. But maybe, just maybe, there is no path at all. The path is simply made by walking.”

Guinevere Cotten, the undergraduate student speaker, spoke about her journey to Binghamton University. Dropping out of high school at age 16, she went on to earn an associate degree at SUNY Broome, where she learned about Binghamton’s human development program. She not only completed the program, but is now enrolled and set to begin CCPA’s student affairs administration graduate program in the fall.

“Each one of us has overcome hurdles that stood in our way on our journey through education and to get us to this point today,” said Binghamton native Cotten.

“During my life here, I have seen passionate individuals fight to bring communities together and help their neighbors. I have also known plenty of individuals who made my life challenging, but for each one who has tried to bring me down, I’m happy to say that I have had two to help bring me up, especially here at Binghamton University,” she said. “I am so grateful for the people who have helped me get to this ceremony of completion today, and I expect you feel the same.”

Cotten urged her fellow classmates to pat themselves on the back and be proud of the work they have done.

“I am so excited for all of us,” she said. “I know we are going to make a difference in the world, no matter how big or small. Congratulations to the Class of 2023!”

You can watch the full CCPA Commencement ceremony here.

Posted in: Campus News, CCPA