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Hudson Link Awards 700th College Degree!  

Congratulations to the SUNY Ulster Class of 2019 at Shawangunk! 

This month Hudson Link closed the book on another record-breaking graduation season: after hosting our first-ever graduation at Shawangunk Correctional Facility (above), we conferred our 700th college degree during our A.A. ceremony at Sullivan Correctional Facility.

Shawangunk graduate Thomas leads his classmates out of the auditorium amidst cheers and applause
Just three years after the program's launch, 2019 marked our first graduating class at Shawangunk Correctional Facility. On Wednesday, June 19th, Hudson Link staff, professors, supporters, and DOCCS administration gathered with the family and friends of the graduates to celebrate their incredible accomplishments. The eleven graduates were the first men to receive their associate degrees from SUNY Ulster in coordination with Hudson Link at Shawangunk.  This emotional celebration was a milestone as well as a moment to reflect on the many firsts our organization has seen over the past 21 years.

Hudson Link's Rachel Bernard (right) with v aledictorian Douglas (center) and classmate Patrick (left).
After the introductions and the conferring of degrees, class v aledictorian Douglas took the stage, giving a raw and emotional speech in which he thanked everyone who made his education possible.  "This college program isn't about we did," he said, holding back tears. "It's about what's next."

The final graduation of the season sent us back to Sullivan to celebrate the SUNY Sullivan Class of 2019 on June 20th. After opening the summer with the inaugural Bachelor's graduation in partnership with St. Thomas Aquinas College, we returned to honor the accomplishments of the 2019 associate graduates. 

Congratulations to the SUNY Sullivan Class of 2019!

These sixteen students (above) upheld what has now become a Sullivan tradition: every single graduate earned and sported a yellow honor cord around his neck. Surrounded by golden cords and the ecstatic graduates and their families, this celebration was the perfect way to close out the season.

The Graduates standing in silent reflection before the conferring of degrees
Both of these happy occasions could not have come to fruition without the hard work and dedication of so many people behind the scenes. We would like to thank the DOCCS administration at both Sullivan and Shawangunk, the tireless professors who dedicate so much time to our students, and everyone who supports what we do at Hudson Link. And of course, we appreciate the impressive effort and perseverance of our Hudson Link students across the five facilities.

Thank you so much for making this 2019 graduation season so incredible. We are already looking forward to breaking more records and accomplishing new things in 2020!

The Sullivan graduates in a lighthearted celebration
Jazz for Justice: Hudson Link's Evening with a Star!
 
Everyone say "Jazz!": HL staff and alumni with Wynton Marsalis (center left)

Mr. Marsalis and his accompanists 
On June 14th we had an incredible opportunity: to watch as Grammy-winning jazz legend Wynton Marsalis performed a benefit concert in support of Hudson Link.  This project was hosted by our friends at Church of the  Heavenly Rest to welcome Mr. Marsalis to the city where he played the trumpet under Michael Pendry's  beautiful art installation, "Les Colombes." Two thousand origami paper doves - many folded by Hudson Link alumni at our 2018 holiday party hosted by Church of the Heavenly Rest - soar over the nave carrying messages of release and the meaning of freedom.

A full house under the doves at Heavenly Rest
With almost 900 guests  present to hear the celestial music and contribute to a worthy cause - and over $20,000 raised to support our college and pre-college programming - this was certainly a night to remember.  The party continued after the concert when Mr. Marsalis stayed to meet and greet the Hudson Link alumni in attendance.

We cannot fully express our gratitude to our friends at Church of the Heavenly Rest, as well as Wynton Marsalis and his team of unbelievably talented musicians, for this incredible opportunity. This was a unique and beautiful evening, and we know the message of our program and our organization reached a number of new faces. Thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to more exciting events in the future. 
P.O. Box 862 | Ossining, NY 10562 | (914) 941-0794 | www.hudsonlink.org