Class of 2017 Mortarboards

We asked 2017 graduates from the Rockland and New York City Campus about why they decorated their mortarboard. Here is what they said.

Caitlyn Thomas – Business 

Class of 2017 Mortarboards“I think I am quite ready for another adventure.”

And for me, I’m all about having adventure in my life. College was definitely one. It was a scary, messy, amazing adventure and I just feel that I’m ready to move to the next one now that I’m graduating.


Rachel Parker – Youth and Family Studies

Class of 2017 Mortarboards“In waves of change we find our way.”

So first of all, I love the beach/ocean so I wanted my cap to be something along those lines if possible. When I found this idea I loved it! You can ask anyone who knows me and knows that this cap idea is very much me. But I also picked it because no matter what we go through in life, we find our way. You can take that in a Christian way… no matter what Jesus is our way, or you can take that in [the] sense [that] a lot happens in college but in the end we go in the direction that we wanted to from the start. It can be looked at in many ways! But I love it because it reminds me of things I love and what I love to do.

Yahveh N. Calderón – Pastoral Ministry

Class of 2017 Mortarboards“Para Ti…” which translated means “For you…”

On the cap, I have images of family and friends who have greatly impacted my life, but sadly [I] was not able to fit everyone. My island of Puerto Rico is also on there to symbolize that I also did it for them!  It means that I did not just do this for myself, but for all of those who have invested in my life in big and small ways. This was for them.


Momoko Black – Interdisciplinary studies in Business and Intercultural Studies       &   Lillie Sakura Van Houten – B.S/M.S childhood special education

Class of 2017 MortarboardsMomoko: The image on the cap represents 2 things for me. 1) my love for Dr. Seuss (as I quoted him from “oh the places you’ll go” [during] my senior year in high school and so I found it fitting to do another my last year of college. 2) I had the privilege of graduating alongside my sister who happens to love Dr. Seuss and quoted him also her senior year of high school. So we knew we had to do it again.  We came up with the idea to use Thing 1 & 2 to represent all the things we love about each other and Dr. Seuss.

Class of 2017 Mortarboards

Lillie: [I’m] graduating with my younger sister and we wanted to do a theme. Dr. Seuss is … our favorite author and we frequently use and live by quotes from his stories.


Conor Halcott –  History

Class of 2017 Mortarboards

I picked Adventure Time for my cap.

The reason I picked it was because I watched it during stressful points in college and it feels like I’m now going on my own adventure. Plus my amazing girlfriend painted it for me.


Carly Heinbaugh – Interdisciplinary Studies: Bible and ICS

Class of 2017 Mortarboards“Great is his faithfulness”

My time at Nyack required the faithfulness of God and it stretched my own. I formed a few incredible friendships, learned from the wisest and experienced a lot of devastation at the same time. In a lot of ways my faith was destroyed and built up, destroyed and built up again. If it weren’t for God’s faithfulness in various ways, I wouldn’t have finished college both encouraged and ready to work. Through best friends and a couple outstanding professors, God exhibited his faithfulness and I’m grateful for it.

Daniel Kiernan (DK) –  Youth and Family Studies

Class of 2017 Mortarboards“Loud Mouths” “Dk-47” “Mom & Dad” “Jer 31:3-4” “Ps 138:8”

The first two quotes refer to a huge portion of my friend group, the Loud Mouth Gang, who I get to create alongside under the artist name Dk-47. I love them. The next is just a shout-out to my parents because they’ve always held it down for me throughout my college experience. The verses are two passages that have helped remind my heart of who God is to me and what He’s up to in my life.


Clarissa Orozco – Social Work

Class of 2017 Mortarboards“Grace carried me here and by grace I will go”

The moment I stepped out of high school I thought I had it all figured out, until a year into college when I saw my life in shambles. I found Nyack and I knew that was God’s grace upon my life. I didn’t have it all together.  I wasn’t the best student but my heart desired something better. The last 4 years have been filled with endless grace and every time I felt I was undeserving of it it wrapped itself even more. Grace broke the barriers and the fears in my life. It unveiled my worth, who I am and who I belong to. I’m not just another graduate in the world. I’m a graduate with style and grace.


Sara Donado – Music–Instrumental Performance

Class of 2017 Mortarboards
Sarah Donado (Left) & Clarissa Orozoco (Right)

“The Lord holds my future”

The message on my cap is what I believe defines my life at the moment. I don’t know exactly what my future will look like but I have entrusted it to the Lord and I believe he will lead me always.


Deanna Lindsay – Interdisciplinary Studies: Early Childhood Education & Music

Class of 2017 MortarboardsHi! I’m Deanna Lindsay, I recently graduated with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies: Early Childhood Education and Music. This leads to the image on my cap! I wanted something that incorporated my passions. I love teaching I have been providing child care for different families since I was 12. Music has also been a part for my life for as long as I can remember. I joined my church’s children’s choir when I was 5! The scripture on the chalkboard on my cap is Isaiah 42 and the beginning of this chapter talks about how God is pleased with (me) his servant. It encourages me not to lose heart or crush the weak ones around me.  It also confirms that I am called to other nations and people groups. It states that distant lands will await my instruction. It goes on to talk about how worthy of praise and worship God is!

This is my life scripture! I also have a tattoo to represent how important it means to me my tattoo also reminds me of my calling.

Daniel Rivera is also an alumni of Nyack College ’16! He is an amazing artist and brought my vision to life!


Sarah Scheidt –  Social work &  Dailyn Davila – English

Class of 2017 Mortarboards
Sarah Scheidt (Left) and Dailyn Davila (Right)

Sarah: “Thanks mom and dad.” 

I actually wanted to make my cap funny, and planned to write “oh Scheidt, I graduated.” But then, last minute, I started to get really sentimental and grateful. I wouldn’t have been able to get my degree without my parents and their financial support and love.  So I wanted to thank them. The symbol is a Celtic symbol for eternal love. That’s special to me because I’m Irish and even though my parents got divorced when I was young, they both love me in their own special way a lot, and I think that’s special. It took both of their love and strengths to help make this degree happen … and I’m really grateful for all I’ve learned and all I can become in this world because of this degree.

Dailyn: I chose 1 Peter 1:6 because I wanted scripture that portrayed the JOY AND HAPPINESS that will come out of this transitional season. Although graduating is a SUPER SCARY concept to me, I believe that with God there IS WONDERFUL JOY AHEAD!!! I also threw some flowers on it because WHO DOESNT LIKE FLOWERSSSSS?! I wanted to be the real life Snapchat filter.


Isha Fuentes – Music In Worship

Class of 2017 MortarboardsI wanted to incorporate my major onto my cap being that music and worship  is also a huge part of my life. It was a very challenging major but the reward was worth it. I used one of the songs from my jury that I performed and also incorporated it onto my cap. [That way] when I look at it, I’ll always remember my hard work and dedication …  Lastly, it was always my father’s dream to see me graduate from college. He passed away a few weeks after my high school graduation. I used the color red on my cap because it was his favorite color and I wanted to have a part of his memory on my cap.



 Rifka Simmons –  Psychology

Class of 2017 Mortarboards

“Just Keep Swimmin”

It symbolizes persistence to me and it’s a pun from the movie Finding Dory. I thought it was pretty clever and it’ll serve as a reminder for me when I think of my college experience.