---- — PLATTSBURGH — About 500 SUNY Plattsburgh students graduated Saturday at the annual winter commencement ceremony, held at the Field House.
President John Ettling presided over the ceremony with Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs James Liszka, who presented the candidates for degrees.
Thomas Corigliano, associate dean, SUNY Plattsburgh at Queensbury, served as faculty marshal.
Keeseville native Michelle Haynes, who majored in anthropology, English literature and art history, gave the commencement address on behalf of the Class of 2012.
“I stand with you all today as a very unfinished person,” Haynes said. “Like many of you, I have not completed painting my portrait of myself. To be quite honest, I’m not entirely sure that this painting will ever be completed. I do, however, have certainty that I will continue to try.”
During her time at Plattsburgh, Haynes exhibited her determination to try, completing three minors in addition to her multiple majors.
A member of the Honors Program, Alpha Phi sorority and numerous honor societies, she also served as editor of the school yearbook and photo editor, art director and Web editor for the student newspaper, Cardinal Points.
She volunteered for community-service projects, worked as a teaching assistant and has traveled to Israel, where she assisted on an archeological dig at a Byzantine village outside a synagogue in Ein Gedi.
“I challenge you to do more than exist in your own preconceptions of who you are, or who you should be. I challenge you to live — to adapt — to find your niche and follow a path that is right for you,” she told her fellow graduates.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Bagpipe Band provided an escort for graduates, faculty and staff. The college’s Gospel Choir performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the SUNY Plattsburgh alma mater.
Charles Sanchez, president of the SUNY Plattsburgh Student Association, congratulated the new graduates, while Alumni Association Director Michael Harrington officially welcomed them to the association.
“Although each of you arrived on this campus with your own unique history, you leave the college today having a shared history, and you leave as a lifelong member of this very special community,” Harrington said.
“You have an important role to play in the ongoing history of SUNY Plattsburgh and ensuring that the students who follow in your footsteps will enjoy an educational opportunity here that is truly ‘bright with promise.’”