Graduates Saluted During Virtual Celebration
More than 1,000 SUNY Plattsburgh students eligible to graduate were honored during a virtual celebration Saturday, May 16. Administrators, students and alumni were on hand, albeit remotely, to bid them good luck, stay safe, and be well.
The online program, which began at 4:30 p.m., also featured traditional bagpipes and the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir. The May graduation has been postponed to Saturday, Dec. 12 due to COVID-19.
The celebration, available to view here, opened with a welcome and congratulatory message from President Alexander Enyedi, followed by greetings from Dr. Wendy Gordon, professor of history and presiding officer of the faculty, Heidi Kelly, vice chair of the Plattsburgh College Council, and Dr. Michelle Cromwell, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion.
“These are indeed extraordinary times, so we are celebrating your achievements in a slightly different way, but while we are apart, Cardinals are gathered online around the world in your honor,” Enyedi said at the opening of the virtual celebration.
“My college graduation was many years ago. Like many of you, I was a first-generation student, the first in my family to attend university. To those of you who are first gen graduates, I applaud your effort and your resiliency and I know how very proud your family and friends are of you. But to all our grads, we know you will put your SUNY Plattsburgh education to great use and achieve much.”
Enyedi also commended graduates on their activism and attention to matters of diversity, equity and social justice.
“Your contributions have made our campus a better place,” he said. “Indeed, while these are days of uncertainty, I am certain of the amazing lives you have in front of you.”
In recognizing family, friends and faculty, Enyedi said, “I want them to know we appreciate each and every one of them.”
‘Job Well Done’
Cromwell told graduates how she still remembers her commencement, “the songs they played and that feeling when I crossed that stage. That’s why it’s important that you and your families are not denied that experience and feeling, even when our gatherings are restricted,” she said.
“During my time at SUNY Plattsburgh, I’ve witnessed the dedication, perseverance and commitment you’ve demonstrated to your work, your families and to your community,” Cromwell said. “Today, I’m extremely happy to be able to acknowledge you and say, ‘You did it; job well done.’
“So, as you close your books, as you put away your papers, as you move away from the kitchen counters, from your beds, the dining room tables, or from whatever spaces you created to finish this semester, remember that you will always be learners. Continue to be curious. I beg you to continue to be on that quest for that truth, to find your inner superpower and find what serves you even as you serve others.”
‘You Are Cardinal Strong’
Messages from fellow graduates Steffaney Jabaut of Altona, Ella Levasalmi of Delmar, N.Y., Blake Lewis of Long Beach, N.Y., and Jacob Garcia of New York City, were also featured on this day of celebration.
“Plattsburgh is a family and will forever be a place for you to turn to, no matter how bad things get,” Jabaut said. “Once we are finally able to walk across that stage, it won’t be the end, but it’ll be a beginning to a new Cardinal status. We were all drawn to Plattsburgh for a reason, and it will forever hold a special place in our lives.
“Wherever your life goes from here, always remember to be proud of your past and the time you spent at SUNY Plattsburgh and allow it to help you build a strong future,” Jabaut said. “No matter what you are faced with, remember you are Cardinal strong.”
Garcia said it isn’t about the time that you’re in right now. “It’s about what you do with the time that you’re in.”
“Right now may be a very devastating moment for all of us, being that we’re graduating, and this is not how we thought graduation would be. But this is also an advantage as well. As much as we look at it as a negative, this is a time to plan; this is a time to prepare; this is a time to really figure out what it is that you want to do and how passionate you are about it.”
Student Association President Rudaba Ahmed of Dhaka, Bangladesh, offered her congratulations and called on graduates to serve as role models for those students coming up from behind.
“They will look to you for leadership, success, and most importantly, a sense of passion for this beautiful place that is SUNY Plattsburgh,” Ahmed said. “The place that you will not officially be able to call your alma mater.”
Dr. Ashley Gambino ’04, president of the Plattsburgh Alumni Association, welcomed the graduates into the alumni fold.
“I know I speak for my fellow alumni when I offer you our sincere congratulations and tell you that we are most hopeful that you will continue your involvement with your alma mater,” Gambino said. “You have an important role as alumni of SUNY Plattsburgh. We hope that you will help us to ensure that the students who follow in your footsteps will also enjoy the Plattsburgh experience we are celebrating here today and again in December. Stay in touch and come back for your first Homecoming weekend Oct. 16 and 17.”
Enyedi returned to offer his congratulations and best wishes.
“To our graduates, you are ready to embark on your life as Cardinal alumni,” he said. “You have an important role as alumni of SUNY Plattsburgh. You’ve now joined a network of success, of Cardinal success and Cardinal power. I know you’ll contribute to make our world a better place for yourselves, your families and for generations to come.”