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Class of 2017 encouraged to 'lead an authentic life' at Commencement ceremonies
Monday, May 15, 2017

Class of 2017 encouraged to 'lead an authentic life' at Commencement ceremonies

Sarah Chamberlain receives the Lanford Presidential Prize from Provost Terry Brown (left) and President Virginia Horvath (right).

The Class of 2017 at Fredonia was encouraged to “lead an authentic life” during the university’s 190th annual Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 13.

Graduates received congratulations from President Virginia S. Horvath as degrees were conferred at two nearly identical ceremonies, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. In all, more than 1,200 undergraduates, graduate students and advance certificate recipients were eligible to participate.

PHOTOS: Visit Fredonia's photo album for images from both ceremonies.

Dr. Horvath presided over the ceremonies, joined by a platform party which included her fellow members of the University Cabinet, members of the College Council, Senior Class President Eduvijez Sanchez, and other campus and community dignitaries. She congratulated all of the graduates and families on their various achievements, and thanked the campus employees who helped them reach this momentous occasion.

“Faculty and staff here have worked to help you find your voice and your passion and to develop your independence in thinking and responsible action,” President Horvath told the Class of 2017. “We’re counting on you to use all you have learned, to continue to learn as new questions and technologies arise, and to represent your alma mater proudly in all you do.”

Dr. Horvath also implored graduates to keep Fredonia’s legacy strong by assisting those who follow. “With continued hard work, you will be successful in your professions and in your lives,” Dr. Horvath said. “As you advance in your careers, please help us recruit the best students, build the network of successful alumni who can connect with students and programs, share your story with those who are skeptical about the value of higher education, and offer financial support for future students and this university.”

The campus welcomed Donato J. Tramuto as the keynote speaker. Mr. Tramuto is the CEO of Tivity Health, Inc., a leading provider of network development and management solutions in healthcare. Mr. Tramuto also founded Health eVillages, a non-profit organization which provides state-of-the-art mobile health technology in the most challenging clinical environments. He is also the chairman and founder of the Tramuto Foundation, which helps individuals and organizations achieve their educational and healthcare goals.

Mr. Tramuto shared stories of childhood struggle, and the lessons he learned from them. “Your happiness will rise and fall on how successfully you lead an authentic life,” Tramuto said. “Not the life your parents or professors necessarily want you to lead, but your life on your terms.”

Mr. Tramuto also used examples of professional and personal success and setbacks to inspire the Class of 2017. “Your power will be in what you believe in and where your passion takes you,” Mr. Tramuto said. “There will be moments to endure, moments of tribulation, moments of failure. I have had my fair share, and I have learned from every single one. So please take this to heart when I tell you: fail to succeed.”

Ms. Sanchez, a Buffalo, N.Y. native, graduated Cum Laude as she received a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Interdisciplinary Studies/International Studies and a second major in Communication/Public Relations.

When she addressed the attendees, Ms. Sanchez discussed how the dramatic changes in the world over the past four years mirrored how the Class of 2017 evolved as young adults during their time at Fredonia.

“As we sit here today and look towards our futures, many obstacles are still ahead of us, some easy, some hard,” Ms. Sanchez said. “But, if these past years are any indication, you will be able to pull through. Every graduate in this room is intelligent and capable of handling any change that’s thrown their way, because being here today is proof of that.”

Sanchez also presented President Horvath with a class gift for the university. Harmony Park is an outdoor musical ensemble made up of percussion instruments that everyone can play and enjoy, and is installed in the Dods Grove on campus. Many members of the senior class accepted the senior challenge and donated $20.17 towards the cost of the project.

The Honorable Frank Pagano, speaking as chair of the College Council, added his well wishes. He told the Class of 2017 to be an active voice in the world around them. “The greatest danger to the world is not the bad people in it, but it's the good people who don't speak out,” Mr. Pagano said. “Always make your voices heard.”

Other highlights included the awarding of the Lanford Presidential Prize from the Oscar and Esther Lanford Endowment of the Fredonia College Foundation. The 2017 recipient, Sarah Chamberlain, of Grand Island, N.Y., graduated Summa Cum Laude with a triple major; a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics with a concentration in Physics, a second major in Physics with a Theoretical Concentration, and a third major in Mathematics.

The National Anthem was performed at both ceremonies by Julianna Grabowski, who will be receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education in December 2017. Student performance groups included the Fredonia Concert Band (a.m.) and Fredonia Wind Ensemble (p.m.), under the direction of Dr. Paula Holcomb. In addition, the Fredonia Women’s Choir,  under the direction of Dr. Vernon Huff, performed “The Graduate Leaving College,” based on a poem by George Moses Horton, with music composed by Fredonia School of Music faculty member Dr. Rob Deemer.

Faculty/Staff Marshals for the morning ceremony were Dr. Scott Ferguson of the Department of Biology and Dr. Ana Maria Klein of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Marshals for the afternoon ceremony were Dr. Raymond Rushboldt of the Department of Politics and International Affairs, and Dr. Ted Schwalbe of the Department of Communication.

Student Marshals are selected for their academic performance and service to campus and were recognized by President Horvath during the ceremonies. Morning ceremony marshals were David Even, Maria Freda, Liza Ganz, Andrea Kaminski, Morganne Madonia and Samuel McCagg. The afternoon marshals were Jonathan Batres, Jacquelyn Carter, Leigh Klajbor, Nicole Miller, Amanda Scranton and Hannah Shea.

The Mace Bearer was SUNY Distinguished Service Professor H. Joseph Straight of the Department of Mathematical Sciences in the morning, and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Robert Booth of the Department of Visual Arts and New Media during the afternoon. They represent the most senior faculty members in terms of service.

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