May 22, 2017
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -
Nursing student Diana Pernicano of Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
graduated from Mount Saint Mary College on Saturday, May 20, after
beating cancer early in her college career.
When Diana Pernicano of Yorktown Heights, N.Y. and Amanda
Pecorella of Fishkill, N.Y. strode across the Mount Saint Mary
College Commencement stage on Saturday, May 20, they did so in
honor of those affected by cancer.
The day of the ceremony, Diana Pernicano and her classmates
trekked up the hill and into the tent overlooking the Mount, where
she and 618 others would receive their diplomas. She was graduating
a year later than anticipated, but what might have been an
inconvenience for some was a cause of celebration for the young
student of nursing.
Pernicano began her studies at the Mount in the fall of 2012,
and her battle against cancer began in fall of 2013. She found a
lump in her neck during a hands-on lesson in a nursing class at the
Mount, and she credits the course with saving her life.
She received treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma immediately, and
is now free of the disease.
“They say it takes a village, and it took the help of a lot of
people to get me well enough to continue at the Mount,” Pernicano
explained, including her family, friends, and caregivers. “Thanks
to everyone who gave me a hand.”
When she returned to the Mount after treatment, Pernicano did so
with a renewed sense of purpose. In addition to resuming her
honors-level studies, she held leadership positions in the Mount’s
Colleges Against Cancer club and co-chaired the Mount’s 2015 Relay
for Life, which raised $35,000 to help fight the disease. Of that
total, she raised more than $2,000 on her own.
The day before Commencement, at the college’s annual Nurse
Pinning ceremony, Pernicano was given the Sigma Theta Tau
Leadership Award commemorating her excellent work.
“The first thing I thought of when I got the award was the
American Cancer Society,” she explained. “Without them I wouldn’t
be here today. That award was really for everybody fighting cancer,
not just me.”
Amanda Pecorella celebrated her second Mount
commencement in as many years on Saturday, May 20. After getting
her bachelor’s degree in 2016 after only three years, she earned
her master’s degree in accounting/business administration in less
than 12 months.
Pecorella lost her mother to cancer about two years ago. Though
it was difficult for her, she said it also motivated her to excel
in all aspects of her life.
RIGHT: Amanda Pecorella of Fishkill, N.Y. received her
master’s degree in business administration/accounting on Saturday,
“My mom wouldn’t want me to go on with life missing
opportunities,” said Pecorella. “She’s the one who led me to turn
all of those emotions that come with the loss of a loved one into
strength that will lead me further into life, even though she can’t
be here with me.”
In 2016, she and her team raised more than $5,000 for the
Mount’s Relay for Life effort.
Pecorella began working at Vanacore, DeBenedictus, DiGovanni
& Weddell, LLP (VDDW), a local accounting firm, less than two
weeks after graduation last year. This year, she accepted a job
with RBT CPAs, LLP, a certified public accounting firm formed by
three Hudson Valley accounting firms, including VDDW. She will
begin on May 31, 2017.
“The Mount is a big reason I’m the person I am today,” Pecorella
explained. “The mentorship they give you through really just helps
make you feel like you can do anything and keep your eyes open to
all opportunities in front of you.”