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SUNY Fredonia celebrates its 195th launch | News, Sports, Jobs

BFA Dance Major Olivia Soto (center), a graduate summa cum laude, celebrates during the procession. Photos courtesy of SUNY Fredonia

Graduates of the State University of New York at Fredonia were encouraged to adopt the “endless possibilities” who await the next steps in their lives at the 195th launch ceremonies held on Saturday morning.

This message came from the Hon. Trini Ross, a 1988 college graduate and current U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York. Ross began his remarks by asking for a minute of silence for the “foolish” racially motivated hate crime that left 10 people dead a week ago at a Buffalo City Tops Market in a mass shooting by an 18-year-old.

After noting one of the region’s darkest days, Ross urged graduates to seek out opportunities that help improve the communities they will live in while making a difference in the lives of those closest to them.

Ross’ journey to Western New York’s top federal law enforcement official began as an engineer at SUNY Fredonia. After taking a course in sociology, another path in life began to take shape, leading to studies in criminology and justice.

“Don’t be afraid to change course, change lanes, be flexible” Ross told the graduates. “Your definition of success will change as you change. It’s not always about having more, sometimes it’s about having less and doing more.

During Saturday’s two ceremonies, university officials said 841 students would graduate as members of the class of 2022. As Ross spoke in the morning session, Senator George Borrello was scheduled to speak during the afternoon ceremonies.

He spoke briefly and enthusiastically, describing the area as a wonderful, unique and beautiful place. He reminded graduates that they weren’t limited to where they could live and work, “It’s no longer your job that decides where you should live”, add, “it’s a great place to be.” He added that Fredonia, and the “Big Hearts in Western New York”, will welcome them at any time. He also asked them to remember their family and friends, who supported them on their journey.

At the morning event, attendees sweltering in the Steele Hall auditorium as temperatures had already reached 83 degrees at 10 a.m. beginning, which he noted was a “special” opportunity.

To begin each ceremony, Kolison also called for a minute of silence. Students, faculty and staff wore a button on their reading start dresses, “SUNY Fredonia Stands With Buffalo” including images of a buffalo and a heart, to show support for the city and its citizens.

Senior Class President Jenna Woods spoke at both ceremonies. In her address to classmates, she noted, “When we think back to our time together here at Fredonia, we think of an environment that nurtured our love for this institution.” She presented Kolison with a check representing the senior class gift of a scholarship.

The Lanford Presidential Award from the Oscar and Esther Lanford Endowment of the Fredonia College Foundation was presented to Kayla R. Makosiej during the morning ceremony.

Music groups performing included the Commencement Concert Band and the Commencement Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Paula Holcomb; and the Fredonia Chamber Choir, conducted by Dr. Vernon Huff. Senior graduates Avery Carlson performed the national anthem in the morning ceremony and Shane Keyes of Amherst performed in the afternoon ceremony. Acting Vice President for Student Affairs Tracy Stenger congratulated the graduates and welcomed them to the Fredonia Alumni Association.

Opening reflections were read by undergraduate students Brandon Texido and Yuwan Viros, and closing reflections by graduate students Rebecca Ferer and Stéphanie Pierre-Jacques.

Posthumous bachelor’s degrees were also awarded to the families of the late Andrew Lucian Ernst, Joseph Anthony DelMonaco and Rebecca Frances Blood Barton.

The mace bearer for the morning was SUNY Professor Emeritus Robert Rogers of the Department of Mathematical Sciences and Professor Barry Kilpatrick of the School of Music during the afternoon. They represent the senior faculty members by years of service.

The faculty marshals included SUNY Professor Emeritus Michael Jabot and SUNY Professor Emeritus Junaid Zubairi in the morning, and Professor Mary Beth Sievens and SUNY Professor Emeritus James Davis in the afternoon ceremony. Student marshals included Alex Bogosian, Madigan A. Howard, Emily J. Jones, Joycelyn McCurdy and Nyles M. Panus during the morning ceremony. In the afternoon, student marshals included Jackson DiCarlo, Erich E. Dickey, Elizabeth J. Horth, Ericka D. Johnson, Chrystiana D. Oakes, and Jules KA Hoepting, recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. Anders Lewis, and SUNY Dr. Norman McConney Jr. Award recipient Aliah C. Richards, were also honored at the launch.

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