Monday, May 19, 2008

812 Students Graduate at the 68th Commencement Exercises

Here is a synopsis of Sunday's slideshow coming soon. Check back!

On Sunday, May 18, Siena College conferred 812 graduates with Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Business Administration, and Bachelor of Science degrees by Most Reverend Howard J. Hubbard, D.D., bishop of Albany. Fourteen students graduated summa cum laude (3.9 GPA or higher), 145 magna cum laude (3.79-3.89 GPA), and another 117 cum laude (3.5-3.69 GPA). Twenty were honors fellows, and the first ever certificate in revolutionary era studies was awarded.

Rev. Kevin Mullen, O.F.M., in his first commencement ceremony as president, welcomed the members of the Class of 2008 into the alumni community as lifelong sons and daughters of Siena College.

Robert T. Cushing ’77, chairman of the Board of Trustees, conferred two honorary degrees at Sunday’s ceremony. Immaculee Ilibagiza, author and survivor of the Rwanda genocide, and James J. Barba, '66, president and chief executive of Albany Medical Center, were presented honorary degrees of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Ilibagiza delivered the keynote address to the Class of 2008. The speech, an emotional one for all present, shared a message of hope, despite the obstacles people face throughout their lives.
Her own life transformed dramatically in 1994 during the Rwanda genocide when she and seven other women huddled silently together in a cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s house for 91 days. During this horrific ordeal, ImmaculĂ©e lost most of her family, but she survived to share the story and her miraculous transition into forgiveness and a profound relationship with God.* She reminded the students that as long as they are breathing, they have life and it is something to be cherished.

Paul Konye, professor at Siena's Creative Arts Department, composed a special concert piece in honor of Ilibagiza. The composition evoked a sense of optimism, like the honoree.

Dr. Tim Lederman, professor of computer science was awarded the Jerome Walton Award for Excellence in Teaching and Ray Boisvert, professor of philosophy was awarded the Raymond Kennedy Excellence in Scholarship Award. Tim Hannigan ’08, class president, gave the welcome address while Victoria Fernandes ’08 gave the senior commencement address.

Fernandes’ Mississippi home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina three years ago. “Within minutes of the devastation of Katrina being reported on the news, students, teachers, and even the custodians came to me asking if my family was safe and if there was anything they could do to help. The students raised over $2,000 by donating their meals and that money was sent down to Biloxi, Mississippi to help the schools get back on track. In April of that year, fifteen Siena students spent their spring break helping people in my hometown rebuild their houses, and their lives. I felt then that the Siena community had become my second family,” she said.

She told the students to take Siena with them, wherever they go, and “Don’t forget about those who have helped make you the person you are today; your parents, grandparents, professors, Franciscan brothers, and friends”.

The ceremony can be viewed on Time Warner Albany’s “Video on Demand” digital system.


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