More than 600 Clarkson University students from 34 states, 18 countries and 58 New York state counties were granted bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at Clarkson University’s 117th commencement today, Saturday, May 8. (Nearly 200 additional students received degrees at an earlier ceremony in December.)
The weekend was also marked by the commissioning of United States Army and United States Air Force officers on Friday.
Receiving honorary degrees and making short addresses were Martin J. Fisher, the co-founder and CEO of KickStart International; Carl B. Mack, the executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE); and J. Craig Venter, founder, chairman, and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute, and founder and CEO of Synthetic Genomics Inc.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer also addressed the graduates.
"It is true that the best times of your life are just beginning," said Schumer. "And you know these are tough times; we have a tough economy, high employment, a great recession, we see the scourge of terrorism, and at the same time there are people your age, brave young men and women overseas, protecting our freedom. These are difficult times indeed. But you know what? Americans, and particularly young Americans, New Yorkers, and particularly young New Yorkers, and Clarkson graduates, when times are tough is when you really stand up. And so now is the time, if there was ever one, to reach for your dream, and then to reach deep down inside yourself and see what you are made of. My advice to this great class of 2010 is very simple: go for it. Now, sometimes you’ll make the wrong choice. But if my experience is any indication, you’ll pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go forward. But if you make the right choice — with a lot of hard work, a little luck, and some prayer — your life will be renewed and enriched forever."
In addressing the graduates, Fisher said, "Firstly, never be handcuffed by the expectations of others, most likely all they really want anyway is for you to be happy. Secondly, always allow yourself to chase your dreams, and value and use your education. If you have a chance to get more then go for it because one person with an education really can make a difference. And if you get an opportunity to work on one of the world’s biggest problems, take it. And if you don’t then ask yourself: what can I do to make the world a better place? And finally, whatever you do in life, always ask the tough questions and tell yourself: there must be a better way, and I can find it. And then go out and make it happen."
Mack told the class of 2010, "My advice to you today… is to pursue your greatness. And that greatness means that you are going to pursue something that is bigger than you, something that is far more special than you... And so I say you to Class of 2010, my Golden Knights, don the intellectual armor that has been given to you by our great university; bring forth your sword of change; make sure that your heart is wrapped with that of servant-leader so that when you chase this opportunity you don’t chase it for fame and greatness, you chase it so that you can make a difference in the lives of others. And when you go with such sincerity in your heart, I can assure you that you will be successful and I can assure you that history shall remember your greatness."
Venter told the students, "Today is a day of reflection, on all that you have accomplished and also on all that you and your family and friends have sacrificed and worked for. It is also the start of the most challenging part of your lives. You are at that fork in the road where you must decide which path to take now that you are armed with your degree. By path, I mean what kind of life you’ll live and what you are going to give back to the world. Will you be committed and passionate about changing the world or will you merely accept what you have been given. Will you be among the ones who later in your lives feel you have made a difference or who will you be one of the majority wishing you might have done something more with your life. I hope for the sake of all of us that you will be committed to helping to change the world."
Narayanan Neithalath, an associate professor of civil & environmental engineering, and Joseph D. Skufca, an associate professor of mathematics & computer science, were each the recipient of a John W. Graham Jr. Faculty Research Award. The $1,500 research account is presented to "faculty members who have shown promise in engineering, business, liberal arts or scientific research."
Lou Ann Lange, an assistant professor history, was awarded the Clarkson University Distinguished Teaching Award. The $1,500 prize is given "in recognition of the importance of superior teaching." Candidates are nominated for the award by Clarkson alumni and the final selection is made by a faculty committee.
Senior Andrew D. Davis of Underhill, Vt., was awarded the Levinus Clarkson Award, and senior Jason R. Holloway of Fletcher, Vt., received the Frederica Clarkson Award. Both are $1,000 prizes given to "a student who demonstrates the best combination of scholarship and promise of outstanding professional achievement."