Commencement is end of era for VTC

By RAY COUTURE

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 05-15-2023 4:00 PM

RANDOLPH — The Class of 2023 graduated from Vermont Technical College Sunday afternoon in what was the school’s final commencement ceremony before the school rebrands as Vermont State University starting in July of this year.

The graduation began at 3 p.m. on the president’s lawn on VTC’s Randolph Center campus, under a massive white tent overflowing with the friends and family of the 2023 graduating class.

The 422 students, the majority of whom came from towns across Vermont but also from places like Cleveland and Staten Island received degrees from one of four programs: Engineering & Computing, Nursing and Health Professions, Agriculture, Plant, & Animal Sciences and Professional Studies & Management.

Vermont State University Interim President Mike Smith delivered opening remarks to the graduates.

Smith replaced Parwinder Grewal in the position following the latter’s resignation on April 14.

Smith spoke with typical commencement speech platitudes — urging the graduates to “forge a legacy” and to “embrace a purposeful existence” that reflect the college’s core values of respect, trust and integrity.

“Be unwavering in your commitment to truth, integrity and an ethical conduct,” Smith said at the podium. “In a world that sometimes guides you (towards) shortcuts and deception, be a beacon on your word (and) demonstrate that true success can only be built upon a foundation of trust and transparency.”

Smith made only one quick mention of the upcoming merger of VTC along with Castleton University and Northern Vermont University into Vermont State University, stating that the new graduates will be able to “lean on your fellow graduates, the faculty and staff who have supported the networks you have established and the community that now expands to all institutions that will become the Vermont State University this July.”

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Following Smith’s talk were three speeches by 2023 graduates as well as the presentation of the class gift by student council president Gabriel Wilkinson. Angela Lazzaro, who earned her bachelor’s in computer information technology and wore rainbow LED lights on top of her graduation cap, spoke first and discussed her experience joining every club and playing every sport offered during her four years on campus.

“As I stand here in front of you all, I have one question: Did you have a good time?” Lazzaro asked the crowd. “The trials and tribulations of the reality of college made it vital for me to find a way to make it through the week with these activities. Lazzaro finished her speech by stating she was proud to be “one of the last” graduates of VTC and that she was excited for future graduates to be part of something new.

Wilkinson’s announcement of the class gift — three chestnut tree seedlings, six Adirondack chairs and an awning — included a reference to the college’s announcement in February — which was met with faculty and student protests and state legislature-intervention — that VTSU would transition to “all-digital” libraries and downgrade its sports programs.

“We also envision future students taking a moment to relax under the shade of the chestnut tree, perhaps after a hard-fought game on the field, and what better way to relax than with a good book borrowed from the library?” Wilkinson asked, which elicited laughs from the sea of graduates.

Not everyone finds the prospect of the change as funny. Brooke Burlett, from Middlebury, Vt., who graduated Sunday afternoon with a bachelor’s in nursing, said it was “surreal and sad” that the institution she was about to be an alumna of was technically not going to exist any longer.

And while she’s happy her diploma says “Vermont Technical College” across the top, any other school merchandise she acquires will have to say “Vermont State University.”

And when asked her preference between the two on, say, a car bumper sticker, Burlett’s choice is clear: “I’ll want the new thing.”

 Ray Couture can be reached at 1994rbc@gmail.com with questions.

VTC 2023 graduates from the Upper Valley

Daniel Ball, Associate Degree Mechanical Engineering Technology, Enfield; Catherine Bancroft, Associate Degree Nursing, Corinth; Cassidy Beisler, Associate Degree Nursing, White River Junction; Cooper Bevis, Associate Degree Forestry, Windsor; Brandon Boisvert, Business Technology & Management, Randolph; Andrew Chase, Nursing, Chelsea; Beth Conklin, Associate Degree Nursing, Haverhill; Cayla Crumb, Paramedic Certificate, Perkinsville; Caleb Day, Associate Degree Veterinary Technology, Orford; Brittany Duffy, Associate Degree Nursing, Randolph; Brianna Elder, Associate Degree Nursing, Etna; Grace Frary, Nursing, South Royalton; Rigel Garrison-Botsford, Electromechanical Engineering Technology, South Strafford; Julia Gonzaga, Associate Degree Nursing, Grantham; Sydney Goodwin, Associate Degree Veterinary Technology, Quechee; Kerrybeth Gorman, Computer Information Technology, Randolph; Alexander Gray, Diesel Power Technology Certificate, Hartland; Jessica Hazlett, Nursing, Thetford; Leah Holmes, Associate Degree Agribusiness Management Technology, Sharon; Christopher Jacobs, Associate Degree Civil & Environmental Engineering Technology, Randolph; Zachary Johnson, Business Technology & Management, White River Junction; Sawyer Josler, Construction Management, Wilder; David Kay, Associate Degree Mechanical Engineering Technology, Grantham; Donna Laplume, Associate Degree Nursing, East Thetford; Cassidy Lewis, Nursing, Strafford; Olivia Limlaw, Associate Degree Forestry, Corinth; Jacob Lique, Associate Degree Computer Engineering Technology, West Lebanon; Gwynneth MacQuarrie, Associate Degree Nursing, Hartland; Scott McCullough, Associate Degree Diesel Power Technology, Bethel; Jacob Olsen, Associate Degree Computer Software Engineering, East Corinth; Andrew Palazzo, Associate Degree Electrical Engineering Technology, Pomfret; Sandra Paquin, Associate Degree Nursing, White River Junction; Myles Pierce, Associate Degree Computer Software Engineering, Randolph; Shanleigh Provost, Business Technology & Management, Randolph; Faith Pungot, Associate Degree Nursing, White River Junction; Jackson Ransom, Associate Degree Dairy Farm Management, Strafford; Keith Standish, Nursing, Randolph Center; Kayla Thompson, Associate Degree Nursing, Randolph; Elliot Tonks, Associate Degree Electrical Engineering Technology, Randolph; Michael Usher, Professional Pilot Technology, Hartland; Molly Willman, Associate Degree Nursing, Ascutney; Matthew Wojciak, Associate Degree Veterinary Technology, Bradford; Chloe Yepez, Nursing, Fairlee.

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