Virtual Commencement Ceremony set for Saturday, June 6

BATAVIA — Colleges and universities across the United States have all been confronted with extraordinary challenges to help students complete the Spring 2020 semester, and now the Coronavirus Pandemic stands to cancel or postpone well-deserved commencement ceremonies. It is heart-breaking for students and their families to be robbed of this celebration and the formal acknowledgement of their significant achievements.


"With a professional career in higher education for more than three decades, commencement remains my favorite day. It is always an honor and delight to watch the graduates cross the stage to receive their diplomas and see them celebrate with their family, friends and fellow classmates," James M. Sunser, president of Genesee Community College said. "We could not deprive our college community of this event, and postponement does not accommodate the schedule and the very real demands and obligations of many of our graduates who have jobs or are transferring to other institutions."


Therefore, officials at Genesee Community College decided to create and deliver a commencement ceremony using innovative technology to honor the Class of 2020 and recognize their achievements while simultaneously adhering to the existing social distancing mandates. On Saturday, June 6 at 1 p.m. Genesee Community College will launch a Virtual Commencement Ceremony that will be streamed and accessible to all through the College's homepage at www.genesee.edu. Plans are underway to develop a well-prepared online presentation that includes most of the College's commencement traditions, and then a robust social media exchange will also take place.


This special, all new, online ceremony will include commemorating remarks from President Sunser, along with messages from a few GCC professors and instructors, music and the announcement of each graduate's name. The keynote address will be given by Peggy Marone, the director of Leadership Genesee since its inception in 2001, which now has more than 500 graduates including nearly 20 GCC employees.


A native of Genesee County, Marone's leadership extends beyond the borders of Genesee County. In addition to the more than 500 individuals who have benefitted from participation in Leadership Genesee (LG), Marone led a team of LG alumni and Orleans County leaders to launch Leadership Orleans, currently in its third year of operation. She also consulted with Leadership Ontario as their planning committee developed the framework for their program.


She was named a NYS Woman of Distinction in 2015 by Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, who represents the NYS 61st Senate District, and Ms. Marone was recognized in 2009 as YWCA Fabulous Female for her work with Leadership Genesee and many other volunteer initiatives. As a long-time friend of GCC, she served as chair of the Wolcott J. Humphrey III Symposium on Leadership and Community Life which brought many distinguished national leaders to the College and community, including but not limited to: Thomas Golisano, Jim Boeheim, Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry's, Dr. Donna Fernades who oversaw the transformation of the Buffalo Zoo and two former U.S Congressmen, William Hudnut III and Fred Grandy.


After receiving her Bachelor's of Art in Psychology from St. Bonaventure University, Ms. Marone worked in human resources for nearly 30 years in the health care, manufacturing and the hospitality industries. She also served as a consultant for non-profit organizations, and she remains very active in the local theater arts community. She is past president and board member of Batavia Players, received an Excellence in Ensemble Acting from the Theatre Association of New York State in 2010 during their annual festival, and a Best Performance by an Actress Award in 2013. She is also a judge for Batavia High School Operation Graduation, a Junior Achievement instructor, a business mentor for Pavilion High School Youth Entrepreneur Academy, and a regular volunteer at the United Way Day of Caring.


As the College continues to develop its virtual commencement, details are available on www.genesee.edu/commencement - In addition to the Virtual Commencement Ceremony, all members of the Class of 2020 will be invited to return to campus and participate in the College's 53rd Commencement Ceremony in May 2021.