Commencement 2021 celebrates nearly 1,000 in-person graduates


May 19, 2021

While the 2021 May Commencement ceremonies, May 14 to 16, looked different than previous years, nearly 1,000 graduates and 2,000 guests safely gathered over the course of the weekend to celebrate the accomplishments of the college's newest alumni.

Eight ceremonies, starting with a special session for students receiving master's and other advanced degrees on Friday, May 14, welcomed graduates and guests, allowed students to walk the stage to receive their degrees, extended some words of wisdom and provided an in-person experience members of the graduating Class of 2021 so richly deserved.

"Our campus community waited, hoped and planned for the opportunity to come together on a day of joyful celebration for our graduates and their loved ones," said SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley. "And, through great collaboration and in compliance with every rule and regulation, we did it! Our graduates and their guests earned an in-person ceremony and the collective pride and admiration of the entire SUNY Oswego campus community."

The Public Ceremonies Committee and a small army of faculty and staff volunteers from departments and divisions across the campus managed ceremonies throughout the weekend, which also incorporated a video of warm greetings from faculty and staff and an in-arena adaptation of the college's popular Torchlight ceremony.

Stephanie Shtoyko, a broadcasting and mass communication major from Rochester who will begin her career at WBNG-12 News in Binghamton as a multimedia journalist, appreciated the decisions and planning that went into "a feeling like no other" that comes with graduating. "As students we had the opportunity to gather one last time and bond over our experiences we’ve shared as Lakers," Shtoyko said.

"Walking across the stage for graduation was such a rewarding experience," said Shtoyko, adding that while health regulations limited the gathering to two guests per graduate, "it was still exciting to have loved ones cheering us on in the stands, celebrating all that we’ve accomplished over the past four years."

"I thought the way the school tried to make it seem 'normal' was absolutely perfect and I'm truly appreciative that we were able to have a couple guests in attendance let alone an in-person commencement," said Benjamin Grieco, a journalism major who will transition his skills from being editor of The Oswegonian to a sports reporter for Oswego's daily Palladium-Times.

"But even just having my parents there, plus having a lot of my friends in the same ceremony, it felt like the perfect way to end my four years at Oswego," Grieco said. "I don't think I could have asked for anything more given the times we're living in right now."

"What an amazing experience it was to work the ceremonies over the weekend," said Kelly Roe, associate professor and chair of the art department. "I am in awe over the planning, coordination and execution of the entire weekend. The college did an amazing job to give our graduating students this opportunity — and their families." 

Wendy Claver, the parent of Liberal Arts and Sciences graduate Brooke K. Claver of Liverpool shared, "I am so thankful for all the work the college and its employees put into making Commencement a perfect day for all the graduates. I can't thank President Stanley and SUNY Oswego enough for making it possible for me to see one of my kids graduate from college."

Koushank Harinder Singh Ahuja, an international student from India who graduated with his degrees in psychology and in broadcasting and mass communication, appreciated the opportunity.

"I believe the commencement was very well organized considering the circumstances and restrictions caused by COVID-19," said Ahuja, who will start working for Snap Inc.’s People Team this summer before hoping to start grad school. "I believe it was the best Oswego could have done and they made sure they gave the graduating class a great end to their time at Oswego." 

Roe added, "Being on the floor with the students, I saw first hand the impact it made on them. It also made an impact on me. I truly enjoyed working with so many of my colleagues from across campus."

For a look back at how Commencement unfolded, check out this playlist on the college's YouTube channel. Also stay tuned for a special Commencement Extra edition of Campus Update with a photo gallery on Wednesday, May 26.