Animated Torchlight Dinner, Ceremony Kicks Off May 2022 Commencement Weekend
After two years of revised Commencement Weekend activities to address pandemic-related health and safety concerns, the SUNY Oswego Commencement Eve Torchlight Dinner and Ceremony returned on May 13, 2022, to its normal, lively cadence as the university community celebrated with an eager group of graduates and their family and friends.
The dinner program, led by co-emcees Rachel Dimitroff ’22 and Michael Jean ’22, included the recognition of two graduates who were selected as the 2022 Outstanding Senior Award recipients: Yadira “Yadi” Aranda Burgos ’22 and Helena Buttons ’22.
During the dinner, SUNY Oswego Officer In Charge Mary C. Toale thanked the nearly 200 graduates, parents, families, faculty and staff who contributed toward the Class of 2022 Senior Gift. Together, they raised a total of more than $6,200 for The Fund for Oswego to benefit future students.
Following dinner, Dr. Toale introduced the keynote speaker, Trudy Perkins ’93, the acting chief of staff and communications director for U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and then member of the Oswego Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Perkins discussed her career path from business administration major to news producer to deputy chief of staff and communications director for the late Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, as well as meeting people such as new U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Following dinner, the university community gathered in a tent outside the Marano Campus Center for the Senior Sing, featuring musical selections by the State Singers and the Oswego State Jazz Ensemble, and then the Torchlight Ceremony, one of the university’s oldest and most revered traditions, began.
Liam Gotimer ’22 welcomed guests, provided a brief explanation and history of the Torchlight Ceremony, recognized the staff who provided the music and lighting and Torchbearer Brittany Bennett ’21 M’22, and then turned the microphone over to Perkins, who introduced Dr. Toale.
Following Dr. Toale’s remarks, the State Singers then performed “Carry the Light” before Student Speaker Gabriele Candela ’22 took to the podium, amid loud and lengthy cheers from her classmates.
She looked back at their four years on campus and how their education was interrupted by the pandemic, but quickly shifted her focus.
“I want to reflect on the way that our class bounced back,” Candela said. “Left with this responsibility to pick up where we left off, with no older members of clubs and organizations to lead us or students to look up to, it was on us to be the example and role models for our younger peers … we persevered and brought life back to our campus. We restored traditions, made new ones along the way and did it all with a new appreciation for our Laker family and Oswego campus.”
The annual ceremony finished with the reading of the Message of the Torch and the passing of the flame from the Torch of Learning from the platform party to the faculty and alumni within the Inner Circle, who represented decades of Laker graduates from 1966 to three representatives from the Class of 2022—Caleb Davies ’22, Kamal Morales ’22 and Elizabeth Myers ’22—to the remaining 2022 graduates and their families, as the alma mater was sung.
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