On Wednesday, May 8, the main lobby was filled with family, friends and faculty as Vaughn College paid tribute to the best and brightest students at its annual Honors Convocation Ceremony. The ceremony recognized student achievement in and out of the classroom prior to next week’s commencement exercises.

Awards were presented to more than 60 students, including the Board of Trustees Award to senior Jonathan Sypeck; Fiorello LaGuardia Awards to Francesco Colacino and David Futch; and the Bessie Coleman Award to Erika Barcenes. The awards recognize academic achievement and service to the Vaughn community.

“This is one of my favorite events because we get to celebrate the tremendous effort these students have put forth during their time here at Vaughn,” said President Dr. John C. Fitzpatrick. “We’re counting on you to move forward in the world to achieve your goals and become the leaders of the next generation.”

The annual convocation ceremony recognizes not only academic achievement but those students who, through service to the community, demonstrate the civic values Vaughn espouses. Service Awards, for example, were presented to eight graduating students whose work in club activities helped to foster an engaging spirit on campus. Leadership Academy cords were given to four students who completed Vaughn’s Leadership Academy in preparation for their post-college careers.  Cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude students were recognized with honor cords to be worn at commencement May 18.

Founders Awards were presented to five high-performing students from associate degree programs and Casey S. Jones Awards recognized fifteen bachelor of science students with similar accomplishments.

After welcome remarks from President Fitzpatrick and Senior Vice President Dr. Sharon DeVivo, the ceremony continued with an address from guest speaker Maria Otero, founder and president of the Women’s Venture Fund, Inc. Otero discussed her career journey and the reasons for her success, while providing guidance to students for their future after graduation.

“Think of where you want to be in five years, identify a goal to get there and work towards it with all your drive and passion,” said Otero. “Your journey may change along the way, but with goals in mind, you can achieve great things.”

Sypeck followed with words of encouragement for his fellow students, noting that “anyone can succeed if they strive to achieve their dreams, which will bring happiness, rather than fame and fortune.”

This year’s convocation also included guests from the graduating class of 1963 who were on hand to celebrate their 50th reunion and attend the event.  Carlos Paez congratulated students and talked about the differences in the College today compared to when he and his classmates attended, but noted one important factor still in common.  “Vaughn College prepares you for the future so that you leave ready to succeed in the workforce,” he said.  “Seeing so many students honored today proves that hard work always pays off.”

Download the convocation program and list of award winners here.

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VAUGHN COLLEGE HONORS CONVOCATION 2012-2013: Clockwise from top left, guest speaker Maria Otero; Jonathan Sypeck, Board of Trustees Award winner; Jiha d Ceaser receives the award for Male Athlete of the Year from Director of Athletics, Fitness and Wellness Ricky McCollum; aeronautical engineering technology graduate Rachid Nafaa accepts his Founders Award from Engineering and Technology Department Chair Dr. Hossein Rahemi.