On Sunday, May 19, more than 1,300 undergraduate students will walk across the New Paltz stage on Old Main Quad to shake President Donald Christian’s hand and receive their diplomas.
The Class of 2013 Spring Commencement Ceremony will be held from 10 a.m. to noon, with seating beginning at 8:30 a.m. This year’s event will feature commencement speaker Lori DuBord and amped up security measures, according to Special Event Coordinator Lisa Sandick.
“There will be no changes from the previous year, except that we will have security bag checks at the ceremony due to the recent events at the Boston Marathon,” Sandick said. “We hope to discourage our guests from bringing extra bags to keep the lines moving.”
The valedictory address will be delivered by the 2013 valedictorian, Nicolette Glebatis, of Nassau, N.Y.
Glebatis, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in communication disorders in December 2012, admitted she is nervous about delivering the address to her classmates and faculty.
“I’m not the best public speaker, and it’s going to be quite the audience,” Glebatis said. “But I’m excited to see my friends and professors again, and to have the honor of giving the valedictory address.”
Glebatis will encourage the class to continue learning and not stop at their undergraduate degree. She will also stress how important it is for her classmates to relish their accomplishments and share the gifts they’ve been given by their education.
Currently a graduate student at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, Glebatis said she originally didn’t plan to attend graduation because “that New Paltz chapter of my life was closed.” After being notified that she was the 2013 valedictorian, she was shocked.
“It wasn’t something I was necessarily aiming for or working toward,” Glebatis said. “I just wanted good grades to get into grad school. It has yet to sink in.”
Glebatis, a self-described “bookworm,” said her family was also amazed by the news, though her friends were less surprised.
“My friends were congratulatory, and then said, ‘Yeah, we knew that was going to happen,’” Glebatis said. “They were shocked and excited for me.”
At New Paltz, Glebatis was active in the Catholic Campus Ministry for three and a half years, and during her senior year, she joined the Truth Study, a bible study group. She also attended Chabad events with friends during her sophomore year.
Glebatis said her adviser, Wendy Bower, and Professor Andrea Ambramovich significantly influenced her decision to pursue a career in speech pathology.
After graduate school, Glebatis plans to work as a speech-language pathologist in a hospital or rehab/nursing home setting, though she’s unsure what area of the discipline she wants to specialize in.
The 2013 salutatorian is Joseph Bacchi, a philosophy major from Highland, N.Y.
Like Glebatis, Bacchi was stunned to discover his salutatory status. This was partially because his priorities somewhat shifted toward the end of his undergraduate career.
“During my last couple of semesters, I was focusing on spending time with friends, working for the honors program, the other part of college – the personal education, more so than the academic part,” Bacchi said. “I loved what I was studying, so doing work was more a labor of love than anything.”
He was also told that liberal arts majors are less likely to receive salutatorian honors because there are fewer required classes for majors in the humanities than for science and engineering majors. This results in fewer opportunities to earn “A’s” for liberal arts majors, like philosophy. Knowing this, Bacchi was even more surprised to learn of his special honor.
Bacchi, who lived at home and commuted, said his family was also taken aback by the news, but proud.
“They had seen me putting a lot of work into different things,” he said. “They saw all that behind-the-scene stuff.”
While at New Paltz, Bacchi was an honors student ambassador and a member of the Honors Ad-Hoc Committee and the Honors Advisory Council from 2010 to 2011. He was a member of the Student Advisory Group to the College President from 2011 to 2012 and was a representative on the Honors Student Advisory Board.
Bacchi also participated in the honors peer mentoring program during fall 2012 and the SURE undergraduate research program the summer of 2012. From his first year to his final semester, Bacchi was a member of the philosophy club.
He said he is grateful to current Honors Program Director Dr. Pat Sullivan and former director, Jeff Miller. Among the multiple professors who influenced him was Bruce Milem, whose philosophy class sparked Bacchi’s passion for the subject and inspired his major declaration.
Bacchi, who has been interning in Washington, D.C. since finishing his degree, said he plans to go into academia and may apply to graduate schools in the U.K. to continue studying philosophy.
In the more immediate future, he will move back to New Paltz and hopes to audit classes at the college, continue the research done through the SURE program and occasionally write articles for local newspapers. He also wants to publish his thesis in academic journals and present his research at conferences, find a part-time job and “read all the books that piled up in my room while I was busy with school.”
Neither Bacchi or Glebatis graduated with degrees they originally intended. Bacchi planned to study English, and Glebatis was a French major for a short amount of time before switching back to communication disorders.