Alumni representing seven
decades of classes helped warm a chilly Oswego
evening with the candlelight they passed to the Class
of 2008. Seniors, their families and friends also gathered to recognize the
record-setting class gift, honor Outstanding Senior Adam Hood '08 and hear remarks from Mistress of Ceremonies Benita Zahn '76 on the eve of Commencement.
"It's not where you start,
it's where you finish," said Zahn, an anchor and reporter for "Newschannel 13"
on WNYT-TV in Albany. "And even graduation is not the
finish, per se. While it's the wrap-up of one era, it's also the springboard to
representing classes reaching back to the 1930s spread the flame from the Torch
of Learning outdoors in Sheldon
administrators, class leaders and Zahn highlighted the Torchlight dinner
program in Hewitt Union.
In her toast, College
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Susan Coultrap-McQuin suggested
memories of "the professor who inspired you, the staff member who said hello
every day and the friends you will have for the rest of your lives" should serve
as the foundation for a lifetime of learning. Hood, too, urged his
classmates to extend their education beyond campus borders.
"I encourage everyone to
rise above mediocrity and choose paths to greatness in their future endeavors,"
the business administration major said. "This institution has given me more
than I ever imagined and I cannot thank everyone enough for their love and
kindness over the years."
Zahn shared some of the
valuable connections she made on campus as a student, particularly the
relationship she shared with John
McLoughlin '75 as a Seneca
Hall co-resident assistant. He would eventually inspire countless others as one of only
20 survivors of the 2001 World
But, Zahn remembered a
seemingly mundane conversation the two had as students. McLoughlin had just
ended his wrestling career in large part because of a sign above the locker
room door that suggested if the fire wasn't there, don't bother entering the
arena, Zahn said.
"I've often thought of
that when weighing a choice and as long as I still have the fire in my belly, I
walk through the door," she said after acknowledging McLoughlin, who attended
the Torchlight dinner and ceremony with his stepson, Steven Tobler '08. "There are words you've all shared with friends
that you never considered would have an impact. Keep that in mind on the days
you wonder if you've made your mark or if you'll make it."
Before heading outside for
State Jazz Ensemble-led Senior Sing and 73rd annual Torchlight
Ceremony, the senior class also unveiled a check for the class gift. The Class
of 2008 raised more than $6,100 to fix the clock in the academic quad.
"I look forward to you
joining the ranks of Oswego
alums and reading of your achievements in the years to come," Zahn said to
close the dinner. "I know my heart will swell with pride when I do."
Zahn was joined by student
Mistress of Ceremonies Christie Toruella
'08 at dinner and student Master of Ceremonies Chris Thatcher '08 at the ceremony, where Kristin Quinn '08 was torchbearer. Michael LaMastra '08 and Stephanie
Meyering '08 represented the senior class in the Inner Circle.
"As we walk across the
stage tomorrow and make our way into the world, remember the memories,
experiences and friendships that you have made along the way," Jessica Schlecht '08 said at the ceremony. "Always know that wherever the
future takes us, we will forever have a home along this beautiful lakeshore."
-- Shane M. Liebler
Upper photo: Students,
family and friends join in singing the Oswego
alma mater at the Torchlight Ceremony May 16.
Lower photo: Former resident assistants Benita Zahn '76 and John McLoughlin '75 catch up before the
Torchlight Dinner. Zahn, an anchor and reporter for WNYT-TV in Albany,
was Mistress of Ceremonies while McLoughlin, a survivor the 2001 World Trade
Center terrorist attacks,
was a member of the Inner Circle
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