Cathleen Richards ’09 remembers waking up to the sounds of Italian pop music one morning and realizing that she has her dream job.
“It’s been five years since I was sitting where you are now, and though it took longer than I thought, I have my dream job,” Richards, an Oswego Alumni Association board member, told the 165 people who attended the Commencement Eve Dessert Reception on Dec. 12. “I get paid to travel and share with others the sights, sounds and experiences of the world’s greatest places.”
Richards, an international tour guide, served as the keynote speaker at the reception, which officially welcomes the new graduates into the powerful network of more than 79,000 SUNY Oswego alumni. The event, sponsored by the OAA, is supported through grants from Auxiliary Services, and support from The Fund for Oswego. It celebrated the more than 500 students eligible to participate in December graduation ceremonies on Dec. 13.
While guests enjoyed a variety of desserts, Richards talked about how she made an abrupt change to her career even after earning a master’s degree.
“It took courage, but two years ago, I quit my full-time job to work for myself in the tourism industry, because I knew that’s where my success would be found,” she said. “Although I didn’t know it at the time, the seeds for the successes that I’ve had were planted right here when I was a student at Oswego.”
Specifically, her experience as an admissions tour guide and a study abroad experience in Rome are serving her well as a travel professional who clocked more than 50,000 miles in 2014. Richards encouraged the new graduates to take advantage of the services offered to alumni through Career Services and the Alumni Association and to maintain their connection to their alma mater.
“I know that you will accomplish many magnificent feats, and hope that someday you will wake up to find yourself working in your dream job, like I do every morning,” she said. “When you do, I hope you recognize the role that your Oswego experience has had in helping you to achieve that dream.”
Following Richards’ remarks, Shinnell Burroughs ’15, the senior class coordinator, presented the Class of 2014 Senior Class Gift of $11,441.14 to Laura Pavlus Kelly ’09, director of alumni relations.
Kelly led the champagne toast to the Class of 2014.
“As you leave the shores of Lake Ontario, look out beyond the horizon—for the world awaits,” Kelly said. “Go forward, buoyed by a spirit of passion and clarity of purpose. You stand ready to navigate the realities of the ever-changing, ever-more complex world in which we live.”
Student emcee and a 2014 graduate Brittany Sperino Horsford ’14, concluded the event by thanking the attendees and sharing a sendoff to her fellow graduates.
“Best of luck tomorrow and beyond!” she said.