You can be whoever you want to be, FMCC students told

Fulton Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger presents a diploma to candidate for degree Theresa Clark, a member of the first class to graduate from the Hamilton Fulton Montogmery Pathways in Technology Early College High School, during FMCC's 53rd annual commencement at Proctors Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

SCHENECTADY — Graduating students of Fulton Montgomery Community College were celebrated for their achievements to date while being reminded of the important work to come during the school’s 53rd annual commencement ceremony held at Proctor’s Theatre Thursday.

“You have all succeeded today,” Proctor’s CEO and keynote speaker Philip Morris said. “The work now is to become a good citizen. To go to your homes, your jobs, with your specialties intact, and decide the world you want to live in and make real.”

Addressing FMCC’s 428 candidates for graduation, Morris explored the connection between imagination and reality, noting how many concepts and high tech gadgets dreamed up in the world of science fiction have become reality.

“When we look at science fiction we see proof that we invent what we imagine. We are creators both beautiful and frightening. What we say and think, therefore, has profound implications to what we actually do,” Morris said.

Despite the unlimited possibilities available in science fiction, characters act with a sense of responsibility. Morris brought up “Star Trek’s” prime directive that guided the crew of the starship Enterprise while they boldly went where no one had gone before, careful not to upset the balance of the worlds they visited.

Fulton Montgomery Community College candidate for graduation Travon Smith embraces Associate Director of Residence Life Nicoy Pusey after receiving his diploma during FMCC's 53rd annual commencement at Proctors Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

As the seemingly impossible future becomes the past, FMCC President Dustin Swanger called on the graduating class to take up the responsibility of shaping the future for themselves and for the world as a whole.

“You are the future of our world. You can determine the kind of community that you want. A community that is open to all or only the few; a community that encourages people or beats them down; a community that protects the truth or one that is built on lies. It’s up to you. But you cannot do that by sitting on the sidelines. You need to use your voice, your mind, your actions and your vote,” Swanger said.

The importance of their actions moving forward was impressed upon the graduates, but Swanger assured them of his confidence in their abilities given what they have already accomplished.

“Some of you faced significant hurdles to overcome as you pursued your education; but you never lost sight of your goals — no matter the challenge. Use that same fortitude with which you overcame those challenges to address the challenges our country faces now and in the future,” Swanger said.

Student speaker My Grumbling, an international student from Vietnam, told her fellow graduates how lost she felt when she first arrived on campus.

Gloversville Middle School student Olivia Hanifan sings the national anthem during Fulton Montgomery Community College's 53rd annual commencement at Proctors Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

“Three years ago, I came here to study. I struggled with English and classes, and I was afraid to ask for help. Rather, I considered myself ‘dumb.’ I started to feel depressed and alone,” Grumbling said.

When asked to talk about herself in class, Grumbling said, “I decided to talk about my struggles. That changed my life. My professor told me to accept who I am, to love myself. He explained that I am not alone. FM is where you can be whoever you want to be.”

She felt that even more after receiving a letter Swanger sent to students following the 2016 presidential election assuring students that all are welcome at FMCC. The letter touched her, bringing her to tears.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from or the color of your skin. At FM, you can be who you are, who you want to be,” Grumbling said. “Even if you cannot see your path in life clearly, it is important to keep your chin up and keep walking forward.”

Grumbling called on her classmates to continue striving while carrying the lessons and values imparted to them at FMCC.

Fulton Montgomery Community College candidate for graduation Christine Fortune and dog Gizmo enjoy the reception after FMCC's 53rd annual commencement at Proctors Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

“I challenge you to become who you want to be,” Grumbling said. “It takes courage to grow up and become who you want to be, just like it took courage to become who you are now. So prove them wrong when they say you cannot. Be yourself. Be respectful. Be kind. Be Santa Claus when you can.

“Class of 2018, I am proud of you! I am thankful to be a part of this and I believe in each and everyone of you,” Grumbling said.

Fulton Montgomery Community College Driector of Nursing Robert Warner presents candidate for graduation Sara Murray with her nursing pin following FMCC's 53rd annual commencement at Prcotors Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

The decorated graduation cap a student from Fulton Montgomery Community College's class of 2018 says it all following FMCC's 53rd annual commencement at Proctors Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Fulton Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger presents a diploma to candidate for degree Paloma Malave during FMCC's 53rd annual commencement at Proctors Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Keynote speaker and CEO of Proctors Theatre addresses the soone-to-be graduates during Fulton Montgomery Community College's 53rd annual commencement at Proctors Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

The graduating class of 2018 from Fulton Montgomery Community College stand after receiving their diplomas during FMCC's 53rd annual commencement at Proctors Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Fulton Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger and Board of Trustees members Geoffrey Peck and James Landrio relax at the reception following FMCC's 53rd annual commencement at Prcotors Thursday. ((The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon))

Speaker for the students My Grumbling adresses her fellow graduates during Fulton Montgomery Community College's 53rd annual commencement at Proctors Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

The graduation cap of a soon-to-be graduate is shown during Fulton Montgomery Community College's 53rd annual commencement at Proctors Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

The Schenectady Pipe Band leads the soon-to-be graduates into the theater during Fulton Montgomery Community College's 53rd annual commencement at Proctors Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Fulton Montgomery Community College President Dustin Swanger presents a diploma to candidate for degree Dante Morgan during FMCC's 53rd annual commencement at Proctors. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

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