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Dean Anne McCall at Commencement 2014

Ceremonies honor students, alumni

by Eric Coker

Whether it was through producing and analyzing data or presenting research and creative projects, the Harpur College Class of 2014 "laid the foundation for future expertise," Dean Anne McCall said at Commencement ceremonies.

"You have worked with faculty and each other on life's big questions," McCall said. "You have developed knowledge on the workings of the natural world, human expression, human identities and actions. You have learned more than the 'whats' and the 'hows.' You have thought about the 'whys' — and have plotted out new ways of knowing, imagining, doing and understanding."

McCall greeted graduates and their families during the three Commencement ceremonies held May 18 at the Events Center.

Harpur Alumni Award recipient Keith Gorham '73, MA '75, stressed the value of a liberal arts education by telling graduates that they have developed "a huge tool to assist you in the future: your flexibility."

"It's an important skillset and you have it," said Gorham, senior vice president of industrial relations for NBCUniversal in Los Angeles. "You've navigated four — and possibly more — years of undergraduate work, obtained your degree and are equipped with study disciplines and thought methodologies which have been fed and nourished by your multi-disciplinary studies. These are skills that will assist you going forward for the rest of your lives."

Shari Lawrence Pfleeger '70, LHD '00, and Michael Garcia '83, received Harpur Alumni Awards, as well. Pfleeger also emphasized the flexibility that Gorham discussed.

"This college has a founding vision: 'From breadth through depth to perspective,'" she said. "I'm no ordinary mathematics major. I'm a Harpur College graduate. My education here has drawn me from breadth through depth to perspective. I not only know my mathematics, but also can write about it, teach it to someone and apply it to important world problems."

Pfleeger, an entrepreneur, professor and scientist, challenged Harpur graduates to create an "inflection point" that will address the national gap in earnings and opportunity.

"If people push back and say that you are a dreamer, tell them it can done — because you're a Harpur College graduate," she said.

Student speaker Belle Yoeli '14 told graduates that they all have experienced "wow" moments, but the Binghamton "wow factor" goes far beyond those moments. "The Binghamton 'wow' is the constant, thriving phenomenon that is the Binghamton University experience as a whole," Yoeli said, adding that "wow" represents Binghamton's faculty, sense of community, diversity and students.

Another student speaker, Christina Pullano, urged her classmates to "grow always, love deeply and serve wholeheartedly."

"We're taught too often to focus on doing as little as possible while making as much as possible, but don't let that distorted message drive you away from doing what you believe is right," she said. "We've been doing it for four years and I challenge us to continue and to bring that into a world that desperately needs it."

The third student speaker, Samson Widerman '14, advised graduates to celebrate the small victories, keep developing silly ideas and build something ranging from a poetry blog to a jigsaw puzzle.

"Show some gratitude to your friends, family, professors, mentors," he said. "Whether it's today or tomorrow, tell them thank you."

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Last Updated: 3/1/17