NY Times correspondent urges graduates to ask questions while engaging in the world ALFRED — A degree is “a first-class ticket to adventures of a lifetime and an opportunity to places to explore,” David E. Sanger, national security correspondent for the New York Times, told Alfred University (AU) graduates gathered Saturday morning in the McLane Center on campus. More than 512 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degree candidates (including those who earned degrees in August and December 2013) were awarded AU diplomas and 28 students received advanced studies certificates (credentials allowing practice professionally as a counselor) during the mid-morning. Presiding over the traditional program was Dr. Charles M. Edmondson, AU president, with Provost Stephens as master of ceremonies. Sanger told each graduate his or her degree is an “engraved invitation to keep asking questions as if you are still in the classroom. Ask why. Questions lead to discussion. Questions connect the dots. Questions make the intellectual leaps of understanding our world,” he explained. Further, “asking why creates a sense of community” because “answering the questions turns out to be a team sport, involving like-minded people who share the same passions.” In leaving the confines of the Alfred community, Sanger said, “Whatever you do, think about what the larger purpose of your world is and then engage as you can. Do yourself a favor and ask why. I think you’ll find those questions will change the trajectory of where you’re headed.” And then, “don’t linger on the fringe of society. There are many problems to tackle in our country. Go out and ask why, and use (the answers) to change this world just a little bit.” Four graduating undergraduates were recognized during the exercises for achieving top honors in their respective areas of study. They were part of the official stage party and seated on the Commencement platform throughout the ceremonies. One of them was Maci Elizabeth Lloyd of Wellsville, an early childhood/childhood education major who earned a 3.97 out of a possible 4.0 GPA (grade point average) on her way to a bachelor of arts degree. A graduate of Wellsville High School, she is the daughter of Jodi Lloyd of Wellsville. Lloyd was top student in the College of Professional Studies. Bellisant Bowe Corcoran-Mathe, a bachelor of arts degree theater major from Kendall leads classmates academically in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences by earning a 3.98 GPA. Corcoran-Mathe is the daughter of Kim Corcoran of Kendall. She earned her high school diploma through the Royal Academy Education, Maine. Julia Ann Berbling of Mandeville, La., a bachelor of fine arts degree major in the School of Art and Design, earned a 3.90 during her years at AU. She is a graduate of Mandeville High School and the daughter of Donna Berbling of Mandeville and Gerald Berbling of Houston, Texas. Stephen Charles Kaplan Rooney is the top student in the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering where he earned a bachelor of science degree in materials science and engineering. The Montclair, N.J., resident also graduated with a bachelor of fine arts degree. He earned a 3.80 cumulative average. Rooney is a graduate of Montclair High School and the son of Stephen and Cindy Rooney of Montclair.