Vaughn College celebrated the accomplishments of over 400 graduates on Saturday, May 18 at its annual commencement as the sun broke through the clouds to add to the warm feeling of the day.

Vaughn looked pristine for the Class of 2013 as they arrived with their guests and were welcomed by fresh spring plantings on one of the College’s most festive days of the year. The absence of planes from nearby LaGuardia Airport was evidence that something exceptional was happening.

Family and friends gathered to celebrate a day several years in the making. Among the graduates was Lukasz Wasiak who was excited to see this day come. “I feel a great sense of accomplishment today and truly believe that four years of hard work has really paid off.” Wasiak graduated with a bachelor’s degree in airport management and received a Casey S. Jones Award at the recent honors convocation ceremony.

The commencement began at 10 a.m. and included a welcome from Vaughn College President Dr. John C. Fitzpatrick, who reminded graduates of how much they had accomplished during their rigorous study at Vaughn. “You have been challenged and tested – and have prevailed,” Fitzpatrick said. “This event marks the beginning of a new phase in your lives. We are proud of you and look forward to your future successes.”

Next, student speaker Jonathan Sypeck, a summa cum laude graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology, reminded his classmates that “everyone of us has the innate ability to achieve great things in life,” and noted that the “experiences and lessons learned at Vaughn will give us the strength and determination to make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others.”

The commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient, Gregory Hamilton, president and group publisher of Aviation Week, congratulated the graduates and spoke about their promising future. “Your accomplishments today truly inspire me.” He continued, “It takes values, a strong work ethic and a can do spirit to succeed in today’s exciting but challenging world and I know that Vaughn College has prepared you for that journey.” “You will be successful if you aspire to always be of service and strive to make a difference in this world.”

Hamilton ended his address by announcing, to the cheers of the crowd, that his publication would be making a gift of free access to the digital version of Aviation Week for Vaughn’s current graduates and future students.

Twelve members of Vaughn’s Board of Trustees were on hand, including Chair Thomas J. McKee, vice president of Natel Engineering Company Inc., who helped to present the honorary degree to Hamilton.

Diplomas were presented to associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree students before closing words from Fitzpatrick and receptions for graduates and their families.

John Andon, who received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering technology, summed up his college experience by noting that he really enjoyed his time at Vaughn. “I learned a lot, met great people including friends and faculty and look forward to utilizing the knowledge I gained to move forward in the world.”

Click here to download a 2013 commencement program.

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Top from left to right: Graduates Michael DiFiore and Lukasz Wasiak at ceremony; student speaker Jonathan Sypeck; commencement speaker Gregory Hamilton; and new graduates celebrate with the traditional cap toss.