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Excelsior College’s 47th Annual Commencement Activities Held July 12 and 13 in Albany, NY



Excelsior College, a not-for-profit, accredited online institution, welcomes graduates from around the world for its annual Commencement Celebration this week.

An Awards Convocation honoring graduates for their accomplishments and alumni who have made substantial personal, professional and community contributions will be held Thursday, July 12, at 5:30 p.m. at the Albany Capital Center.

The 47th Annual Commencement of Excelsior College takes place Friday, July 13, at 3 p.m. at the Empire State Plaza Convention Hall in Albany. The Commencement ceremony is family-oriented with the traditional pomp and circumstance.

Over the past year, Excelsior College awarded degrees to 5,077 graduates. Nearly 450 of them will travel to Albany for Commencement, each bringing their own stories of achievement. Some impressive highlights that tell stories of work/life balance, overcoming obstacles, international reach, and lifelong learning are included below.

Many adult students try to find work/life balance. It makes it easier when your employer supports you.  Excelsior has many partnerships, including National Grid, SUNY Broome, and Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut, the world’s largest pizza company, created the Life Unboxed EDU program to provide college credits for completing company training courses; and offering tuition assistance for salaried employees and discounts to hourly employees and family members. A representative from the Pizza Hut corporate office, Marnie Alvarenga, will be in attendance to cheer on their graduate, Sonya Borden, as she crosses the stage.

Sonya Borden**, from Hudson, NH, earned an Associate in Applied Science in Administration/Management Studies. She is employed by a franchise, Capital Pizza Hut.

Sonya explained, “When I was seventeen, I became a mom. I was in high school and working as a hostess for Pizza Hut. Over the years, I continued to work for Pizza Hut and became a shift leader and then on to a Restaurant General Manager. Education was always important to me and I wanted to pass that culture on to my daughter, but I never felt I had the time or money. Still working for Pizza Hut, I was introduced to an education partnership program that offered online classes and tuition assistance, Life Unboxed EDU.  I realized that this was something I could afford and have the time to do. My entire family and my coworkers were critical to my success.”

Marnie Alvarenga**, Training and Development Manager, Pizza Hut, shared “At Pizza Hut we believe it’s important to help our Team Members become their best, and Life Unboxed EDU helps us do that. We’ve heard from countless team members out in the field that it makes them proud not only to know they work for a company that has training so impactful that it counts for college credit, but also to work for someone that wants to help unlock their potential.”

Alvarenga continues, “Recognition is a big part of our culture at Pizza Hut. It’s a huge accomplishment to work full-time and go to school, and being at Sonja’s graduation hopefully shows her how proud we are of her and that we recognize what it took to achieve this! I also think it’s great that even though Excelsior uses an online learning platform, they still put on this awesome celebration where students from all over the country can attend and be recognized.” 

Overcoming Obstacles and Celebrating Success: Graduate Speaker Eduardo Jose Rivas Rosales** earned his Bachelor of Professional Studies–Technology Management. He came to the United States from El Salvador by Political Asylum in 2009.

Rosales shares, “I moved to the United States because my life was in danger. I had to decide between my life or the place that I loved, the place where I grew up and planned to live. I had finished three years of college when I left El Salvador. I came to the United States to start from zero without a plan, but with the dream of graduating from college. “

International Presence at Commencement: Nearly 450 from a class of over 5,000 traveled from all the world to celebrate their remarkable achievements.

This year’s graduating class represents 15 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Ecuador, England, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, Mexico, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States. Graduates from Bangladesh, British Columbia, and Canada, as well as the United States, will be in attendance.

There are 74 international graduates and 1,054 from New York. Thirty-four percent of graduates self-identify as members of minority groups.

Lifelong Learning: Excelsior College was founded on the philosophy that “what you know is more important that where or how you learned it.” This year’s class is representative of the importance of lifelong learning. Excelsior provides educational opportunity to all learners, regardless of whether they are a gifted 12-year-old, a middle-aged adult, or a 72-year-old retiree, so they can earn a degree and achieve their educational dreams. The average age of graduates in the Class of 2018 is 36 years old.

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