Graduates given inspiring send-off at college's 107th commencement exercises

ALFRED – Hundreds of newly minted Alfred State College graduates were given an inspiring send off Sunday, accepting degrees amid thunderous cheers and applause from family and friends while being beseeched to “make the world better for the people around you.”

Alfred State’s 107th annual commencement ceremonies in a jam-packed Pioneer Stadium on the Alfred campus featured the conferring of degrees to approximately 750 May 2018 graduates from the State University of New York College of Technology. Some students said they could see the college finish line and were ready to celebrate, but others were taking nothing for granted until they had their diploma in hand.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” veterinary technology grad Lindsey Crisanti said a few minutes before the ceremony started. Crisanti and college roommate Courtney Charlesworth of Cattaraugus were standing together on the stadium turf, double checking that their graduation ensembles — caps and gowns — were just right.

“I don’t want to fall off the stage,” Crisanti joked.

Jake Vattimo, a sports management major from Geneseo, said it’s not over until it’s over.

“It’s going to feel good in about three hours,” Vattimo commented as students prepared for the procession of graduates.

With ceremonies underway beneath a mostly cloudy sky, student speaker Hannah Vuozzo emphasized the relationships graduates developed at Alfred State, calling those relationships critical to navigating the future.

“Life is just one big relationship with the world. I get it. That’s a scary word to some or all of us: relationship,” said Vuozzo, an interdisciplinary studies major who was vice president of the Student Senate. “But in all seriousness, relationships are the essence of our lives, and there is so much that Alfred State has taught us about them, even if we have not realized it yet.”

In her invocation, Katherine Bauman Griffis, pastor of the United Presbyterian Church in Hornell, spoke of second-century Christian philosopher Irenaeus, who said the glory of god is a “human being fully alive.” It’s a worthy goal for graduates, Griffis said.

The god of whom Irenaeus was speaking “is the God who is there when people are hungry or when people are frightened or lonely, or when people are in pain. God is there with compassion and care, maybe through you,” she said.

Griffis challenged graduates to live up to Irenaeus’ definition of being fully alive.

She said, “What are you going to do with all you have learned at Alfred State? What kind of a person will you be? How will you use your knowledge and skill to make the world better for the people around you?

“How will you pursue your goals, your dreams and ambitions in such a way that they bring you closer to others and to God? Will you be fully alive?”

Graduation music may be familiar, but it’s that very familiarity that helps evokes the tradition, grandeur and elegance of college commencements. Graduates were led out in recessional to the music of the Gates Keystone Police Pipes and Drums. Abigail Campbell, a construction management major from Geneseo, provided a stirring rendition of the national anthem, and the Alfred State Men’s Quartet performed the college’s alma mater.

Dr. Skip Sullivan, president of Alfred State, presided over the event. The Paul B. Orvis Award for Excellence is awarded to five graduating students. The award honors Paul B. Orvis, a former president of Alfred State and State University of New York dean for two-year colleges. Recipients must meet the criteria of service, leadership, character, and scholarship.

Receiving the award were Cory Farley, Cold Brook (School of Applied Technology associate degree recipient); Carina Scalise, Baldwinsville (School of Architecture, Management and Engineering Technology baccalaureate degree recipient); Amber Sirline, Angelica (School of Architecture, Management and Engineering Technology associate degree recipient); Kylie Buchek, Windsor (School of Arts and Sciences baccalaureate degree recipient); and Bailey Winslow, Warren, Pa. (School of Arts and Sciences associate degree recipient).