First of all I’d like to say good luck to all of our graduating seniors here today. I am very pleased to be here with you. As you may know I am a relative newcomer to Potsdam, having just completed a year of service and just had my inauguration a few weeks ago. This is a wonderful college and I am honored to have been chosen to work with such an outstanding group of faculty, students, and staff as we move into a new era in the history of SUNY Potsdam.
This is an especially important moment in the life of this institution. This year we celebrate 191 years of service to northern New York and the region. Our countdown to our bicentennial celebration began earlier this year on March 25 when we celebrated our Charter Day, the anniversary of the issuance of the charter establishing the College by the State of New York. But today, we are so very proud of all of you: the graduates who took only three years, the normal plan graduates who leave us after four years, the extended plan graduates who took five years, and even those of you who graduated in your own time. Congratulations!
There are two ideas that I hope will help you along the way. First: reinvent yourself. As you graduates go out into the world, you have a unique opportunity to reinvent yourselves. Armed now with your degrees and experience you truly can become the person you wish to be, leaving behind the personas you acquired in grade school, high school, and college. You quite literally can be just about anything that you wish to be. You can pursue additional education; you can travel the world; you can enter the job market; you can serve your country in so many ways. But most importantly, you can reinvent yourself. Make yourself the person you have always wanted to be, starting here, starting now.
Secondly, you are going to be OK. As we have experienced as a college community this past year, our lives are a mixture of highs and lows, tragedies and triumphs. We celebrate together and we grieve together. As I have noted in other contexts, SUNY Potsdam is a supportive place that both challenges students to exceed their own expectations, yet provides a safe place for them, in good times and bad. The bonds that you have made here will last your lifetime. Armed with your experiences from SUNY Potsdam, with the knowledge you have gained here, the friends you’ve made among your peers and the faculty, and with your own families to support you, everything will be OK. You can handle just about anything that life might send your way. So I charge you to take a long look at yourself. This graduation provides you with a unique opportunity to make a new beginning. Promise yourself that tomorrow and thereafter you will be the person you want to be. Be yourself. Live up to your own expectations for yourself. You can do this secure in the knowledge that you are going to be OK.
Lastly, as you leave this place, remember that you will always be part of our SUNY Potsdam family. Become active in our Alumni Association. Let the world know how much the education and experiences you had here mean to you. As they say at my alma mater “do well, and do good,” but most of all, please, keep in touch. Congratulations to you all.