Graduates Urged to Change the World, Live Fulfilling Lives
More than 1,400 SUNY Oswego students received degrees at the college's 150th Commencement May 14, and as they celebrated they heard words of wisdom to carry them out into the world.
Marking the historic nature of the Sesquicentennial Commencement, President Deborah F. Stanley told the graduates, "change and challenge are constant in our history. Our college, and our graduates, have a record of going through trying times and coming out all the better — stronger, wiser, more just."
The State University of New York conferred two honorary degrees at the Oswego Commencement: an honorary doctor of science degree to Augustine Silveira Jr., emeritus distinguished teaching professor of chemistry at Oswego, and an honorary doctor of humane letters degree to Frank G. Pogue, president of Grambling State University in Louisiana.
"Seek your place in the world by following your own dreams, while at the same time, cultivating inner strength and a set of values and ethics that will guide you through life," urged Silveira, who was honored at the morning commencement ceremony.
Silveira reminded graduates to set high expectations for themselves. "Believe in yourself and do not be afraid to fail," he told them, recounting how during his 40-plus year career in teaching chemistry, many "failed" experiments created the most exciting results.
Silveira also urged the graduates to give back to Oswego, both of their time and financial support. "In appreciation of what your teachers and educational institutions have done for you, I hope you will assist them in various ways to make Oswego an even better place for future students," he said.
"I am delighted to be one of the newest alumni of the State University of New York at Oswego," said Pogue, who spent many years as a vice chancellor of the SUNY system.
In his address, Pogue detailed his idea that universities are ideally suited to combat societal problems by the very act of bringing people together. "I believe quite strongly that if there is ever to be a solution to hate, incivility, poverty, hate crimes, bullying, drugs, alcoholism, homelessness, imprisonment, hunger, wars, distrust, unemployment, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, discrimination against persons because of disability, sexual orientation, inequality . . . the solutions will come from people who care about each other," he said.
"Colleges and universities may be the only hope we have left to ensure the creation of a civil democratic society," Pogue said.
U. S. Sen. Charles Schumer, speaking at his sixth Oswego Commencement, told the graduates to seek a profession they truly love. He recounted his own experience. The day of his law school graduation, he shocked his parents by stating his intention to pursue a career in politics, where his own passion lay. He ran for office at the age of 23 and won, and has been in public service ever since.
Schumer challenged the graduates to pass the "Monday morning test and the Friday afternoon test": If they were excited to go to work as the new week began, and if they were equally happy to go home to their loving family at the end of the work week.
"It is my hope, prayer and confidence that you will pass both tests with flying colors," he said.
President Stanley concluded the ceremonies with her Charge to the Graduates.
"There is so much work to be done — pick a project, tackle a need that is crying for a solution, and go at it," she told them.
"Now, embrace your future, embrace this adventure. There are opportunities you never dreamed of waiting to be discovered. Seize your future, and be powerful - change the world!"
— Michele Reed
Augustine Silveira Jr., emeritus distinguished teaching professor of chemistry, was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree. Silveira worked with recent Nobel Prize winner Ei-ichi Negishi. Below, Grambling State University President and former SUNY Vice Chancellor Frank G. Pogue receives an honorary doctor of humane letters May 14.
Back to June front page • Next story: Business Honors • Previous story: GENIUS Kickoff