Cayuga Community College’s Class of 2018 features inspiring and unique stories

For the 575 students eligible to cross the stage at Cayuga Community College’s Commencement, the ceremony marks both an accomplishment and an opportunity for them to start on the career path they discovered during their time in college.

The May 20th commencement will celebrate the college’s Class of 2018, whose members are moving on to the workforce or continuing their higher education at other universities after completing their studies at Cayuga.

Class of 2018 member Anthony Ferris came to Cayuga unsure of what he wanted to do, settled only in his determination to keep busy after struggling since he returned from his second tour of duty with the Army in the Middle East.

He’s graduating with an Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts: Humanities and Social Sciences, and is destined for the psychology program at the University of Arizona, determined to find a related internship and participate in research projects to help veterans.

Honorably discharged in 2005, the veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom says he’s committed to helping other veterans overcome some of the same problems he faced when he returned to the United States.

“Ultimately, I want to get my doctorate in psychology, and to help veterans overcome PTSD and substance abuse. I want to work with people coming back from combat, other people like me so they don’t have to go through all the problems I had to go through,” he said.

Ferris initially came to Cayuga unsure of what he wanted to study. He started with computer science and video game design, but took a psychology course and realized he’d found exactly what he wanted to do with his life.

As someone who served two tours of duty, Ferris believes his experience in combat and struggling with its aftereffects at home will help him connect with veterans and better understand how to help them.

“What I ran into, is that so many psychologists have their hearts in the right place and a lot of book knowledge, but they don’t have a lot of experience of being on the battlefield and what it’s really like,” said Ferris. “And that drives me, because I really think the field of psychology could use more veterans to offer that perspective.”

A Family Affair

Robin and Cori Moore have spent several semesters supporting each other in their studies, and now the mother and daughter will celebrate the culmination of their college careers when they receive their degrees together at commencement.

Cori knows several other students who had the chance to attend college with their parents, and she is excited her mom decided to return to Cayuga. The two are best friends, said Cori, and this gave them another opportunity to see each other and graduate together.

“I was just very excited she would be here and we’d be coming to Cayuga together as a family,” said Cori.

For Robin, it meant more than having her best friend on campus; it offered her a friendly face after being away from higher education for three decades.

“I’ve been away from college for 30 years. It’s daunting coming back,” she said. “I thought it was great that Cori was coming here and studying telecommunications, just like I did when I started.”

Robin enrolled at Cayuga in 1986 after choosing college over joining the Army. She joined the college’s Telecommunications Program, but in 1988 she left after her paid internship ended. She couldn’t find another paid internship, and could not afford to continue her college education.

After Robin left Cayuga, she shifted her attention to her family and friends, many of whom were veterans. Fast forward 28 years, and it was time for her daughter, Cori, to go to college. After taking courses devoted to the music industry in high school, Cori was interested in telecommunications and music production. Her mother had a suggestion for her.

“She mentioned that she had been a telecommunications student at Cayuga and that they had a good radio station and a strong program,” Cori remembers of their conversation. “It was close to home, so I figured I would come here instead of spending more money on some big name college with a weak telecommunications program where I’m not going to learn what I want to learn.”

Cori enrolled in Cayuga’s Telecommunications Program, just like her mother did 30 years before. She’s walking the stage this month after completing her degree in Audio Production with a Music Production option.

It wasn’t long after Cori started that Robin decided to come back to school. This time, though, she decided to follow her passion for supporting veterans, and in particular wanted to use recreational therapy to help veterans struggling after their service was complete.

So after finishing a Liberal Arts and Humanities degree in December — which she’ll walk the stage for this month — she’s also planning on completing a degree in Studio Art and Design.

That degree should put her in position to help veterans, she said.

“I want to work with veterans without using chemicals or drugs, and to find them alternative therapy methods,” she said. “One of the best ways is recreational therapy — things like artwork, music and gardening — that will help steer them away from other treatments. There’s a huge need for alternative therapy.”

‘I knew I could do it’

Bailey Schafer and Tanya Sharp’s paths to and through college may be different, but both are graduating from Cayuga determined to pursue careers where they’ll have the opportunity to help other people and do what they love.

Only 18 years old, Schafer is finishing off her first college degree in one year and will start in the fall at SUNY Upstate University’s prestigious medical imaging program.

Schafer is graduating from Cayuga in just two semesters with an Associate of Science Degree in Health Sciences with a concentration in medical imaging after taking college courses for three years in high school through the Cayuga Advantage program.

“Taking the courses in high school gave me a challenge, which I like to have,” she said. “I’ve told a few people that I’m graduating after one year, and they’re always so surprised. Working this hard was just normal for me. I knew I could do it, and usually if know I can do something, I’ll get it done.”

Schafer is determined to become an ultrasound technician, and says she became interested in the field after attending a course about ultrasounds at a camp at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Being an ultrasound technician is a way to help people, she said, which was an important choice when determining her career path.

“It’s a relatively new field of medical imaging, and it’s changing and getting better every day to help more people, and I just think that’s great,” she said.

As the first member of her family to attend college, Sharp persevered down a winding road to commencement. It’s a path that saw her start out at several other colleges before finding the right fit at Cayuga.

“I couldn’t have picked a better place to finish my degree. People here push me to do what I want to do, and they make you feel proud of yourself. If it wasn’t for the people that are here, I probably would have left a long time ago,” said Sharp.

Sharp graduated from high school in 2004 and jumped right into college, but had trouble finding the right program. Shortly after she moved to the Fulton area, she found the Cayuga campus and decided to enroll for the Fall 2015 semester.

She said it feels like she’s been on campus every day since, and it’s a decision she has never regretted.

“Cayuga really helped me figure out what I want to do at 30 years old. I’ve been in school for so long I feel like I should have already known what I wanted to do, but better late than never,” she said.

Though she knew she wanted a career in criminal justice, Sharp didn’t have a specific career path in mind until she took a course on juvenile delinquency and decided she wanted to work with local youth. She’s looking at possible careers working with children and teens in schools or possibly in a probation department.

Looking back on her college experience, Sharp is proud of her determination and that she’s provided an example for her daughter of what hard work can accomplish.

Most of all, she’s excited to graduate after her years of dedication.

“I didn’t walk the stage in high school, but I’m so excited to walk the stage because I’ve literally been in college for nine years, and now I’m done with what I wanted to study in the first place,” she said.

Mother Robin Moore and her daughter, Cori, are both receiving their first collegiate degrees at Cayuga Community College’s Commencement on Sunday. Cori is graduating with a degree in audio production, while Robin is receiving her Liberal Arts degree and will also complete a degree in Studio Art and Design.

Criminal Justice Professor John Lamphere and criminal justice graduate Tasha Sharp review the New York State Penal Law during finals week at Cayuga Community College. Sharp is the first member of her family to graduate from college, and is looking to pursue a career helping local youth.

About Commencement
Commencement at Cayuga Community College is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 20 in the Spartan Gymnasium at the Auburn Campus, 197 Franklin Street. Anyone unable to attend can watch the ceremony on Spectrum Cable Channel 12 and on the Cayuga Media/Telecommunications YouTube channel Media@Cayuga.

About Cayuga Community College
Founded in 1953, Cayuga Community College is one of 64 accredited institutions that make up the State University of New York (SUNY) system. Cayuga offers open access and an affordable gateway to higher education, with courses and degree programs offered at campuses in Auburn and Fulton, NY and online. Cayuga Community College provides a strong liberal arts foundation for further study and career preparation. The College also addresses identified community needs through targeted training and personal enrichment programs. By sustaining academic excellence within a supportive learning environment, the College, a careful steward of human and fiscal resources, serves as a valuable asset to the development of our local, regional, and global communities.

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