In a ceremony highlighting gratitude, perseverance, and lifelong connections, more than 500 St. Lawrence University graduates took part in the University’s Commencement on Sunday, May 22, at Newell Field House.
In her remarks to the community, President Kathryn A. Morris encouraged the graduating class to reflect on the transformative influence the Laurentian community has had in their lives. As the newest alumni begin to embark on their next journey, she shared a story of philanthropy and lessons about “how to live a good life.”
“As you leave our campus, I encourage you to practice random acts of kindness, volunteer, become philanthropic—find ways to improve the world around you,” said President Morris. “As you move through life, I hope you will make a practice of reflecting on the people for whom you are thankful and to take the time to express your gratitude to them.”
President Morris was joined on stage by honorary degree recipients President Emeritus William L. Fox ’75, Lynn Smith Fox, and Grant H. Cornwell Jr. ’79, who commended the Class of 2022 for their perseverance during the COVID-19 pandemic and praised their ability to influence change in their local and global communities.
“Today, Plimpton’s comments resonate because what is ‘out here’ is a frightful array of challenges topped with more than a dollop of uncertainty. The Class of 2022 is well versed on the work you need to do to address the problems so visible ‘out here.’ And congratulations to the class and those who have supported you for managing the challenges ‘in here,’” said Smith Fox, referencing a famous 1977 commencement address from writer George Plimpton while recalling the graduate's perseverance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I find you absolutely inspiring, and you have my highest respect,” said Cornwell, praising their ability to influence change in their communities around the globe.
President Emeritus Fox lauded the graduates’ ability to build lifelong friendships and shared a singular word of advice—“nevertheless”—to ensure “that today’s spirit of joy can never be lost or destroyed.”
“Some days you will know sadness. Nevertheless, take time to be friendly; it is the sure-footed path to happiness,” said President Fox. “Some days you will know stress. Nevertheless, take time to play; it is the open secret of perpetual youthfulness… Some days you will know boredom. Nevertheless, take time to work hard; it is the non-negotiable price of success and security. Some days you will know exhaustion. Nevertheless, take time to laugh; it is the up-tempo music in your feet; it is the final harmony of your souls.”
In a ceremony featuring numerous inspiring remarks from members of the class, several graduates received distinguished honors. Ève Dubois ’22 of Lac-Beauport, Quebec, received the Trustee Academic Achievement Award, which recognizes the graduate with the highest cumulative grade-point average (GPA). Ève, whose final GPA was 4.0 out of a possible 4.0, majored in global studies. This was announced for the first time during Sunday’s ceremony.
Ibadat Javed ’22 of Irving, Texas, the Class of 2022 Joan Donovan Speech Contest winner, spoke to attendees about adaptability, courage, and lifelong connections.
“I find myself smiling at how lucky I am. To have professors that inspire me. Friends and family that nurture and support me. Buildings that have housed me during the long nights of finals week, providing me with resources, peace and quiet, and fully stocked vending machine,” said Ibadat. “SLU gave me friends that I thankfully know I can never get rid of. Lifelong connections with mentors that I can rely on for advice, encouragement, and support. A place I know I can come home to, whenever I have the urge to walk down Saddlemire, jump off the rope-swing into the freezing waters, or enjoy one of those sunsets that paint the sky hues of pink and purple.”
The Jeffery H. Boyd Class of ’78 Prize, an award established by the Board of Trustees in 2018 to recognize the overall contributions and exemplary leadership of a graduating senior, was awarded to Eduardo Puerta ’22. Puerta, of Construplaza Escazu, Costa Rica, double-majored in computer science and mathematics and was a member of several national honor societies. A leader on campus, he served as an Admissions Intern, Community Assistant, Hispanic Honor Society Senator to the Intersectional Board of United Voices, President of the Ultimate Frisbee Club, and was recognized as Best First-Year Program Community Builder.
“[Eduardo] is admired and esteemed by his peers and professors alike,” said President Morris. “He has embodied in all he has done at St. Lawrence the qualities highlighted by the Boyd Prize: leadership through humble effectiveness, focused purpose, and inspired creativity.”
During the ceremony, the Brockville Pipes and Drums, one of the oldest pipe bands in Canada that have performed at many St. Lawrence Commencement ceremonies, were awarded the North Country Citation in recognition of their contributions to improving the quality of life and community in the region.
The Commencement ceremony was followed by a United States Army Reserve Officer Training Corps Commissioning recognizing Kyle Frimel ’22 as 2nd lieutenant, Ordnance Corps Officer Leader Course based in Fort Lee, Virginia, Alexander Gilbert ’22, 2nd lieutenant, Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course based in Fort Benning Georgia, and Rajat Sharma ’22 as 2nd Lieutenant, Signal Corps Basic Officer Leader Course Training based in Fort Gordon, Georgia.
Diplomas and commemorative Commencement programs will be mailed to graduates at a later date after final grades have been submitted. Captioned recordings of the ceremony will be available soon.