Three distinguished alumni were the featured speakers at SUNY Oswego’s three 154th Commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 16 in the Arena and Convocation Center in the Marano Campus Center.
The speakers were: Margaret “Peggy” LaTulip Focarino ’77, now retired commissioner for patents in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences ceremony; Yvonne Spicer ’84 M’85, vice president at the National Center for Technological Literacy, at the School of Education ceremony; and Fritz Messere ’71 M’76, the founding dean of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts, at the combined ceremony for his school and the School of Business.
Before delivering her address, Focarino received an honorary doctor of science degree from the State University of New York. She graduated with a degree in physics, the only woman in her major, and then began a 37-year career as a patent examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, eventually becoming the first woman to be named commissioner for patents. She retired in June.
She offered some advice to graduates: embrace diversity and seek differing opinions, keep a sense of humor and perspective, be open-minded, be humble, put people first and never give up.
“You get to decide what kind of footprint, what kind of impression, you want to make during your life’s journey—a journey that will be shaped by the quality of your decision-making and the people you surround yourself with,” she said.
During the School of Education ceremony, Spicer told the graduates that the word “teach” is an acronym: T is for tenacity. E is for excellence. A is for accountability. C is for compassion. H is for heart.
“Class of 2015, if you choose to teach, bring your A-game,” she said. “Children don’t have time to waste. They expect your best. They deserve your best.”
During the final Commencement ceremony, Messere entertained graduates and their families by quoting Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and drawing on audio clips and visuals to punctuate his remarks.
“SUNY Oswego is truly one of America’s best schools and very best financial deals,” Messere said.
“Make sure that you give back to the community along the way,” he said. “Be a volunteer, run for local office, find ways to help the needy and make a real difference.”