Future Landscape for 2021 Graduates
After a turbulent and stormy 15 months, the gray skies of the global pandemic began to clear as the Class of 2021 set sail on new adventures away from the shores of SUNY Oswego.
“Through great collaboration with you, our soon-to-be-graduates, and in compliance with every rule and regulation that seemed to hem us in—we are here!” College President Deborah F. Stanley said during her welcome at eight separate Commencement ceremonies May 14-16 in the Marano Campus Center Arena and Convocation Hall.
“SUNY Oswego is hereby launching you on your own unique path—the adventure you will choose as you move forward from here,” President Stanley said. “Your next steps will carry you toward your dreams, toward the plans you have been making as you navigate all the paths that led you to this point of great personal achievement.”
Due to social distancing and safety guidelines, the college limited each ceremony to 125 graduates and 250 guests, all of whom showed proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results from within 72 hours of the ceremony, to keep the overall numbers below health requirements for indoor gatherings in a facility the size of the Marano Campus Center Arena and Convocation Hall. The college livestreamed each ceremony so other family and friends could tune in and watch from home.
“We showed resilience to make this ‘not-so-typical’ college year the most remarkable we could, and this needs to be a reminder for all of us that even though a lot changed during our last year of our undergraduate career, one thing did not: our potential,” said Student Association President Lizeth Ortega-Ramirez ’21, who spoke on behalf of the Class of 2021.
Nearly 1,000 graduates participated in the in-person ceremonies, and several others who joined by livestream were recognized on slides projected onto large screens. The college also awarded a degree posthumously to Trent Berry ’21 of Fulton, N.Y., who died in February after a 10-month battle with an aggressive form of cancer.
“You have weathered more trying times than any class I can remember,” President Stanley said. “But still, whether you were on-campus or studying from a distance, you often took action for the collective good. I urge you to approach your future with a greater understanding of what is truly important, then choose the paths that lead you to realize your values and allow those values to thrive in our world. Compose your life with meaning and fulfillment and joy.”
The Public Ceremonies Committee and a small army of faculty and staff volunteers from departments and divisions across the campus managed ceremonies throughout the weekend, which also incorporated a video of warm greetings from faculty and staff and an in-arena adaptation of the college’s popular Torchlight ceremony.
Stephanie Shtoyko ’21, a broadcasting and mass communication major from Rochester who began her post-Oswego career at WBNG-12 News in Binghamton as a multimedia journalist, appreciated the decisions and planning that went into “a feeling like no other” that comes with graduating. “As students we had the opportunity to gather one last time and bond over our experiences we’ve shared as Lakers,” Shtoyko said.
“Walking across the stage for graduation was such a rewarding experience,” said Shtoyko, adding that while health regulations limited the gathering to two guests per graduate, “it was still exciting to have loved ones cheering us on in the stands, celebrating all that we’ve accomplished over the past four years.”
“The way the school tried to make it seem ‘normal’ was absolutely perfect, and I’m truly appreciative that we were able to have an in-person commencement,” said Benjamin Grieco ’21, a journalism major who transitioned his skills from being editor of The Oswegonian to a sports reporter for Oswego’s daily Palladium-Times.
“But even just having my parents there, plus having a lot of my friends in the same ceremony, it felt like the perfect way to end my four years at Oswego,” Grieco said. “I don’t think I could have asked for anything more given the times we’re living in right now.”
“What an amazing experience it was to work the ceremonies over the weekend,” said Kelly Roe, associate professor and chair of the art department. “I am in awe over the planning, coordination and execution of the entire weekend. The college did an amazing job to give our graduating students—and their families—this opportunity.”
Wendy Claver, the parent of Liberal Arts and Sciences graduate Brooke K. Claver ’21 of Liverpool, N.Y., shared, “I am so thankful for all the work the college and its employees put into making Commencement a perfect day for all the graduates. I can’t thank President Stanley and SUNY Oswego enough for making it possible for me to see one of my kids graduate from college.”
Koushank Harinder Singh Ahuja ’21, an international student from India who graduated with his degrees in psychology and in broadcasting and mass communication, appreciated the opportunity.
“The Commencement was very well organized considering the circumstances and restrictions caused by COVID-19,” said Ahuja, who started working for Snap Inc.’s People Team this summer before hoping to start grad school. “I believe it was the best Oswego could have done and they made sure they gave the graduating class a great end to their time at Oswego.”
Roe added, “Being on the floor with the students, I saw firsthand the impact it made on them. It also made an impact on me. I truly enjoyed working with so many of my colleagues from across campus.”
In-Person Commencement Ceremony Planned for 2020 Graduates
In response to multiple requests from members of the Class of 2020, SUNY Oswego will hold an in-person Commencement ceremony for those graduates on Dec. 11, 2021. More details will be sent to 2020 graduates this fall, and questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related Content: 2021 Graduates Look Back on Their Oswego Experience
See more photos from 2021 Commencement!
Watch the Commencement ceremonies.