May 20, 2002
JIM HERLAN/Messenger Post Correspondent
HOPEWELL - During the 34th commencement ceremony at Finger Lakes Community College yesterday, speakers encouraged graduates to take pride in their accomplishments - a theme especially meaningful to Brian Landry, who earned three associate degrees as well as an honors certificate in English while battling multiple sclerosis.
Landry, who took up to 24 credits per semester, maintained an average of 3.57. But more impressive than his academic record to Landry's family and classmates was that he achieved his success while facing a chronic disability, which he contracted more than four years ago.
"I loved being at FLCC," Landry said before the ceremony. "In my book, it's a fantastic school."
Landry, 43, said that when he first arrived on campus he was "a little uncomfortable."
"I felt like everybody's father, but other students soon made me feel right at home," he explained.
Landry, who is married with five children, was not the only member of the family enrolled at the college the past year. His wife, Mary Jean, and their oldest son, Jonathan, also attended.
Landry said he couldn't have achieved his success without the support of his family and Jack Burroughs, who works at the Social Security office in Geneva and helped him change his outlook after he was diagnosed.
Landry had worked for 23 years in Rochester but was forced to take sick leave when the illness struck. "I went from walking to sitting in a wheelchair in just 10 months," he added
"I was just sitting at home, getting worse, and feeling depressed," Landry said.
But Burroughs encouraged him to attend FLCC. He also helped arrange for transportation, textbooks and other necessities, according to Landry.
Landry earned associate degrees in liberal arts and sciences, computer information systems, and computer technology and networking. He is also working on a bachelor's degree in computer forensics at Empire State College.
Immediately after graduation, Landry planned to leave with his family for Philadelphia, where he has a new job with the criminal investigations division in the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The FLCC commencement ceremony was held in the school's gymnasium, which was filled to capacity. Degrees were presented by James W. Ware, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college.
Some 875 people graduated from FLCC yesterday.
©Daily Messenger 2002