ALBANY, NY - It was a day for celebrating outstanding accomplishments and exceptional futures.
The College of Saint Rose celebrated its 90th Annual Commencement today with addresses from James Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corp. and an Albany native, and Capital Region philanthropist Patricia Hunter Standish and by awarding degrees and certificates of advanced study to 1,609 students. The ceremony was held in the Times Union Center in Albany and attended by more than 750 students.
Honorary degrees were awarded to Sandman and to both Patricia Hunter Standish and her husband J. Spencer Standish.
In addition, the College bestowed the Carondelet Medal, its highest honor, on the Most Rev. Howard J. Hubbard for his 36 years of service as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and his dedication to interfaith dialogue and understanding. Saint Rose named its on-campus interfaith sanctuary for Bishop Hubbard in 1997.
"Good people finish first!" said speaker Sandman, one of the nation's premier voices for the poor, whose message was later praised by numerous graduates. "What I mean by this is that no matter what you do in life, personal character, integrity, kindness, generosity and service to others contribute to success by any measure.
"Whoever said that nice guys finish last was a cynic, a loser, and wrong," he added, to huge applause.
Drawing on a growing body of research and stories of people who have influenced him the most, Sandman spoke of how personal character, integrity, kindness, generosity and service to others will contribute to the graduates' success.
"You are Saint Rose. You are equipped to set the world on fire. Live the values that you have learned here. Be proud to be known for your integrity, your kindness, your generosity, and your service. And whatever you do, be confident in the knowledge that good people finish first," Sandman said.
In his first commencement since becoming the College's president in 2012, Dr. David Szczerbacki urged the graduates to rise above the cynicism and defeatism of today's society by noting what he learned from his father at a very young age.
"Work ethic matters. Showing up prepared matters. Doing the dirty work matters," Szczerbacki told the new degree-holders. "You now have the skills needed to lead in an increasingly complex, interconnected world. Remember that the cure for cancer is still in the future; the next great American symphony is still in the future; world peace and the end of poverty are still in the future."
Like Sandman, Szczerbacki also underscored the importance of perpetuating the spirit of generosity that is the foundation of a Saint Rose education.
"My hope is that this ethic will define you for all of your tomorrows," Szczerbacki said. "My hope, as expressed by my daughter, Katie, at my inauguration in October is that you will not be a ‘free rider.' Carry your load. Give back. Be a leader in your community."
One of the newest graduates, Lenny Brumfield, left the ceremony with his sister, and they were hard not to notice. The sister wore a t-shirt (custom-printed) that read: "My brother is a college graduate!" on the front; on the back: "My brother is going to law school!" Brumfield, a criminal justice major, will start at Albany Law School in the fall.
"I liked that they talked about our futures and that we need to remember kindness," said Brumfield of the ceremony, as his sister beamed.
The Class of 2013 joins nearly 37,000 alumni of Saint Rose living in 48 states and the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and 26 countries. More than 50 percent of the College's alumni live and work in the Capital Region.