Founder’s Weekend 2022
The Second Annual Founder’s Weekend celebration, held Sept. 29-Oct. 1, strengthened the university community through unity-building activities, planning, discussions and shared experiences.
The weekend kicked off at 8 a.m. Thursday with a successful 1861 Giving Challenge that exceeded the goal of 861 donors in 1,861 minutes and raised more than $212,000.
On Friday, alumni and friends who serve on the Oswego College Foundation (OCF) and Oswego Alumni Association (OAA) boards of directors as well as several other university advisory boards convened to hear updates on the university and to map out plans for the future.
During the noon hour, approximately 200 students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends came together for the annual Green and Gold Day campus family portrait, and through their spirited exchanges during the photo expanded their Oswego networks. Lakers around the world were also invited to submit photos of themselves in their favorite green and gold gear.
Flags of Nations
Following the campus photo, university members commemorated the opening of the “Flags of Nations” display in the Marano Campus Center. The display was created in summer 2022 with the following description: “SUNY Oswego’s Flags of Nations represent the international and Indigenous connections of the SUNY Oswego community. Each flag displayed represents an enrolled SUNY Oswego student. We display these flags to acknowledge, celebrate and honor the history, places and experiences of our diverse community.” For more information, visit the Flags of Nation webpage.
The Scholars Brunch brought together approximately 250 students, benefactors and university community members—the largest number yet—to celebrate OCF scholarships.
NYS Assemblyman, OAA board member and scholarship benefactor Harry B. Bronson ’82 shared his journey from humble roots to successful lawyer and entrepreneur. See related story.
Cyniah Wynn ’24 and Aziz Sarimsakov ’24 spoke on behalf of the student scholars.
“Your support will be felt beyond this campus,” said Wynn, who hopes to use her degrees in sociology and human development to return to her home in Washington, D.C., and work with at-risk juveniles who have previously been incarcerated. “It will be felt in the work that all of us scholarship recipients do post-graduation. For me personally and from my donors – Sharon Zondag ’76 and members of the Oswego Alumni Association Board of Directors, your support will be helping to make a difference in the lives of people in these marginalized communities. From the bottom of my heart – thank you!”
Sarimsakov shared how his single mom, his two sisters and he had emigrated from Uzbekistan to New York City in 2017 when he was 16 years old. He arrived in the United States without knowing any English.
“I am here at SUNY Oswego pursuing my dream to not only earn my bachelor’s degree, but to ultimately give back by helping future immigrants like me,” he said. “I hope to motivate them to keep moving forward, to assure them that there will be more in life than working at a restaurant until 1 a.m. on a school night to help their family, and that they can persevere, and I will be there to support them on their journey.
“So, here I am today, standing in front of you – a first-generation college student, an immigrant from a third-world country, an individual who has worked hard days and nights to make his mama and sisters proud, and someone who would not be here today if it weren’t for scholarships,” he said.
1861 Giving Challenge
Jeff ’92 and Ginger Bray Sorensen ’93 served as challengers for the successful 1861 Giving Challenge.
They inspired 931 people to make a gift during 1,861 minutes on Sept. 28-29, exceeding the goal of 861 donors. Because the Laker community surpassed the goal, the Sorensens donated $100,000 to the university.
Together, the Oswego community raised more than $212,000 to support students.
On Friday afternoon, students and visitors also attended a political science alumni panel, featuring Christopher Collins-McNeil ’16, founder and political consultant, The Collins-McNeil Group; Emily Sischo ’17, legislative analyst, Ostroff Associates; and Derek Smith ’18, legislative assistant, Buffalo Common Council.
On Saturday afternoon, Dresden Engle Olcott ’88, Phil Grome ’89 and Montos Vakirtzis ’87 offered their perspectives about “Conflict Management and Management Techniques,” in conjunction with the Student Leadership Conference, coordinated by Student Affairs.
Moderated by Student Affairs’ Mike Paestella, the panel invited each alum to share their own experiences with managing workplace conflict, including affirming various perspectives, dealing with conflict in a timely and open-minded manner and leveraging clear and open communication to both prevent and resolve conflict. Students joined alumni for a networking session following the panel discussion.
Alumni swapped Oswego stories over some light refreshments for Founder’s Weekend Kickoff Gatherings in Central New York Thursday evening at Sharkey’s in Liverpool, N.Y., and at Hurley’s Saloon in midtown Manhattan with host, Skye Prosper ’19.
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