Scholars Brunch Celebrates Students, Benefactors, Stanleys
Approximately 225 attendees gathered on Oct. 2 for the 7th Annual Scholars Brunch, an event that recognizes student scholars and the benefactors who established privately funded scholarships for Oswego students.
This year’s event was held in conjunction with Founder’s Weekend, which celebrated 160 years of higher learning since the college’s founding in 1861 and also recognized the contributions of President Stanley, who will retire in December after 26 years as president and 44 years of service to the college.
“I remember attending [President Stanley’s] inauguration,” said Aunrée Houston ’00 (pictured above at the podium), who attended the inaugural ceremony as a student in 1998 and who, today, serves on the Oswego College Foundation (OCF) Board of Directors and the School of Communication, Media and the Arts Advisory Board. He spoke on behalf of all scholarship benefactors and addressed the various people in attendance—scholars, board members, faculty and staff, and President Stanley.
“It was exciting to celebrate the ‘changing of guards,’” Aunrée said. “What we didn’t know then, was that the guard, aka [President Stanley], would come in – dynamic, powerful, determined, focused, loyal, and ready to turn this college upside down and right side up again. You’re blessed to be the epitome of leadership and excellence … Thank you for leaving a legacy worth carrying on and on and on.”
He also encouraged student scholars to share their gifts and their excellence with others.
“Excellence is at its best when it’s used to help better our world,” Aunrée said. “Carry your excellence in your professional and personal life … Be cognizant about how you show up in the world. Make sure you pay it forward, reach back, over and under – bring others along with you – every step of the way.”
OCF Secretary Mark Baum ’81 served as the emcee for the event, which also featured two student speakers, chemistry major and Possibility Scholar Taylor Coiner ’22 and Michael Jean ’22, a broadcasting and mass communication major and the recipient of the Tom Winiarski ’91 Scholarship.
“Almost four years ago now, I remember opening a letter that offered me the Possibility Scholarship and being in absolute awe,” Taylor said. “I grew up in a single-income household with three other siblings … I worked very hard in high school, making honor roll and being inducted into honor societies, but did not know if I would be able to afford attending college. If I had not been offered this scholarship, I can honestly say I am not sure I would be here today as a SUNY Oswego student getting ready to graduate this year!”
Michael, whose parents emigrated from Haiti a year before he was born, said he is grateful to be the first person in his family to attend college and he appreciates all that his parents sacrificed to help him achieve a college education.
“Uprooting themselves and moving to the states in 1999, leaving friends and family and all they knew behind, was hard for them, but they knew it was the only way for a better life,” Michael said. “Being a student can be hard, and being a student during a pandemic, even harder. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the scholarship support I received and knowing others believed in me, I’m not sure I would still be a student here … my scholarships motivated me to keep moving forward and I’m really grateful for them and for my donors.”
The event concluded with special recognition for Michael J. Stanley.
During remarks by President Stanley, she recognized her husband, Michael J. Stanley, and announced that she established an endowed scholarship in his name.
“Michael J. Stanley has taken the watch from me when I’ve needed to lay my head down to rest, when I’ve needed that extra focus,” President Stanley said. “If anyone in the extended family needed anything and when any student on this campus cut across our path in any way … he’s taken the watch for me. I am dedicating a fully endowed scholarship in the name of Michael J. Stanley today.”
Oswego Alumni Association President Dana Segall Murphy ’99, with OCF Chair Rose Cardamone Crane ’81, dedicated a bench and tree to Michael J. Stanley.
“Michael has been an integral part of our SUNY Oswego family for over 26 years,” Dana said. “He has met with Oswego alumni across the country at formal and informal events to provide college updates, and learn about the alumni experience. He has always been the resident expert on the history of Shady Shore and all of its occupants. He always wants to assist with our endeavors.”
The bench, which features an engraved plaque in Michael Stanley’s honor, and tree will be placed along the shores of Lake Ontario.
“Perhaps, Michael — you and President Stanley will finally have a moment to take a break and watch the sunset over Lake Ontario together on this bench and under the shade of this tree,” Dana said. “We know that future generations of Lakers will certainly do so. Thank you for everything.”
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