Siena grad hoping her commencement will help inspire future generations

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LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — This weekend marks college graduation for hundreds of Siena College students, including one who hopes her degree can help inspire those who have dealt with adversity in their past.

“I would want other students and people who might be in difficult situations to know that there’s always a way out, it’s never too late,” says Jennifer Collazo.

Collazo is one of those hundreds of graduates set to walk across the stage to receive their diploma Sunday. She hopes her achievement can be an inspiration for anyone who’s had difficulties when they were younger.

“I had a really rough childhood, a traumatic childhood, and so when I was able to get the opportunity to come to Upstate New York I did, I took it. I kind of turned it around and used my resilience to get out of that situation that I was in,” she explained.

Collazo also works for the school’s Public Safety Office, working to keep campus safe while pursuing a degree in social work. “We might not be able to change the world, but if we can change someone’s life, even if it’s just one person, it’s definitely worth it,” she said.

While she continues to evaluate her post-grad options, she’s looking ahead to being able to help children going through similar hardships. “It’s really important that younger kids have good role models and are able to look up to people that can show them that it’s possible and not to give up. It might be difficult at that moment, but there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, as they say,” Collazo said.

And while she gets ready for her commencement Sunday, it’s not just a special occasion for her. A few days ago, her son, Gabriel, was given an honorary degree and teddy bear from the school. “I want my children to know that they can be whatever they want to be in life, and they can definitely take over the world. It meant a lot to me. It was very emotional for me, and he loves his degree,” says Collazo.

With loosening restrictions, Siena is able to resume in-person commencement ceremonies this year. Saturday, the college hosted its first ever separate graduation for grad students in the Academic Quad.

On Sunday, over 800 undergrads will graduate at the Times Union Center, which will include a virtual address from former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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