More Than 1,400 Join the Alumni Ranks
The stories of more than 1,400 students eligible to graduate
began new chapters after Commencement ceremonies May 15 in the Campus Center
arena and convocation hall.
Commencement speaker Naomi Wolf urged graduates to embrace and protect their freedom as they make their ways.
“I can tell (you) are engaged, idealistic, full of really important dreams for the future and … are going to take a huge part in saving the country and world,” the feminist author and political activist said.
For some graduates, such as Wally Reardon ’10, the day marked a step in a long journey. A former high-tower worker and foreman for 13 years who would scale up over 1,000 feet, Reardon now focuses attention on ensuring these workers do their job safely.
The turning point came when he saw his close friend and mentor, Jeff Hartman, suffer a devastating fall while on a job in Buffalo. The Pulaski resident eventually found his way back to a classroom, first earning a degree in human services at Jefferson Community College and surprisingly falling in love with political science, which brought him to Oswego’s halls.
Growing up poor and not thinking of himself as “a college boy,” Reardon felt “like a kid in a candy store” when he returned to the classroom. “I felt like I had good grades because of a fear of failure,” he said. “I find the kids in the classroom very intelligent. They have book smarts. Mine come from what I’ve gone through in life.”
He interned at the Workers’ Rights Center of Central New York aiding migrant workers and has been a research consultant for the Central New York Occupational Health Clinical Center, monitoring and promoting safety for tower workers. As the center’s Tower Climber Protection Project coordinator, Reardon recently presented a keynote talk in Albany during Occupational Health Awareness Week. After college, he plans to spend time making sure tower workers can do their jobs safely—and walk away from their jobs at the end of every day.
Praising supportive faculty
Laurel Braun ’10 returned to the classroom after working as interim director and business manager for Oswego’s Harborfest and staff accountant for the Greater Oswego Chamber of Commerce. She found herself drawn to art history, given her background working with community arts and culture plus grant writing, and professors helped her realize an interest in teaching.
“I’ve been at the right place at the right time doing the right thing, and I’ve had professors backing me in whatever I’ve wanted to do,” Braun said. Thanks to Lisa Langlois of the art faculty, Braun presented at a major women’s studies conference at Marist College, and she has shared work at Quest, Oswego’s annual celebration of scholarly and creative activity.
As a teaching assistant for Lisa Seppi, Braun helped with review sessions, held office hours and had “a backstage view of what it’s like to be a college professor,” she said. This experience and meeting professors doing what she’d like to do at the Marist conference helped cement her plans: Braun will head to SUNY Binghamton University’s doctoral program with a teaching assistantship. She said she especially appreciated how that program, like Oswego, was committed to interdisciplinary studies.
Hoping to specialize in medieval architecture means she plans to travel to Europe for her doctoral dissertation research. And while her studies can prove a challenge to family life, Braun also sees an opportunity. “My family has been so supportive,” Braun said. “I look forward to having my daughter visit me in Europe, and I can watch her go through the process and realize all the opportunities available to her."
Kristopher Clement ’10 will take his degrees in history and sociology to Montreal’s prestigious McGill University to pursue his master’s in history. The native of Pierrefonds, Quebec, said he looks forward to studying at “one of the most research-intensive universities in North America” before perhaps turning to teaching.
“Inside and outside the classroom, I have learned that discipline, a positive work ethic and commitment really do pay off,” said Clement, also a Laker lacrosse standout. “I have forged lifelong friendships, developed a sense of identity, and learned the value of teamwork, the latter of which can undoubtedly be useful and applied no matter where life takes me.”
Oswego’s Honors Program taught him a broad base of knowledge that encompassed different viewpoints and approaches, he added. “I have found the faculty here to be extremely approachable and genuinely concerned with their students’ success,” Clement said. “I have found that the small size of many of my classes has facilitated student-faculty interaction and relationships. . . . Overall, my time here has been a positive experience and has no doubt prepared me for not only the next step in my academic career, but the rest of my life.”
Shannon Linehan ’10 plans to take an AmeriCorps VISTA position to prepare for her joining the Peace Corps. The human development major from Owego credits the college’s Center for Service Learning and Community Service for cultivating her desire to continue in this field.
“I have been able to directly involve myself in the lives of children, the elderly, the impoverished and people from different cultures such as Tennessee, West Virginia and Jamaica,” said Linehan, active in such efforts as Mentor Oswego, Adopt a Grandparent and Habitat for Humanity. “People whose lives are disrupted from natural disasters, are born into poverty or live in unjust societies have a harder time achieving the kind of goals that I know I have the ability to reach.”
Her internship with the Oswego Children’s Project influenced her interest in eventually pursuing a master’s in mental health counseling. “I think becoming involved and taking advantage of anything that seemed interesting was what made me so successful,” Linehan said. “I will miss it a lot.”
— Tim Nekritz M '05
President Deborah F. Stanley and Ruth Brass '10 hold up the Class of 2010 banner during afternoon Commencement excercises.
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