Several hundred seniors, friends, family, faculty members, college leaders and alumni passed around candlelight May 15 at the 74th annual Commencement Eve Torchlight Ceremony, hosted for the first time in the Campus Center convocation area.
The Oswego Alumni Association also honored the Outstanding Senior and recognized the Class of 2009 gift.
Master of Ceremonies Saleem Cheeks '01 urged students who were part of a Torchlight dinner audience of more than 450 to stay connected with their alma mater. A deputy press secretary for former New York Gov. George Pataki turned senior public relations executive for Eric Mower and Associates, Cheeks offered some bullet points for career success.
"There will be graduates among you tomorrow who will accept their degree and walk off into Oswego's great sunset never to be heard from again -- what a mistake." he said during the dinner that preceded the Torchlight Ceremony. "Our college has generations of highly successful graduates throughout our state and nation -- seek them out."
He encouraged the aspiring graduates to give back and pay it forward. Appropriately, the check for the senior class gift unveiled at the dinner totaled more than $6,000 to date.
The class is working toward a $10,000 gift to endow an EcoFund that will support campus sustainability initiatives.
Outstanding Senior Award winner Wendy Paterson '09 said she was proud to be a part of such an environmentally conscious generation.
A zoology major, Paterson's involvement on campus as president of the Biology Club and member of SUNY Oswego Students for Global Change made her the successful candidate for the award established in 2005 by Alice Massimi '02. The Outstanding Senior Award goes to a graduating student who is highly involved on campus and maintains an exceptional academic record.
"I am lucky to have been here at Oswego during this transitional stage toward sustainability," Paterson said during her remarks. "I look forward to the start of a composting program here on campus and all the other improvements we will make as we change to a green university."
Following dinner, alumni representing classes from 1940 on formed the Inner Circle at the ceremony, where the flame from the Torch of Learning was passed to about 100 members of the graduating class, their families and friends.
-- Shane M. Liebler
Senior students shared candlelight from the Torch of Learning with friends, family and college leaders May 15 in the Campus Center arena.
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