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SUNY Geneseo Bids Farewell to the Class of 2021

Class of 2021 mortarboards (SUNY Geneseo/Keith Walters '21)

On Saturday, May 22, SUNY Geneseo held its 155th commencement. The virtual event included the senior oration, messages from Geneseo alumni, and recognition of each of the nearly 1,200 undergraduates who received their degrees. This year’s commencement was preceded by a Graduate Procession and Recognition, where the class of 2021 received their diploma covers and had graduation portraits taken.

Former Rochester newscaster Norma Holland ‘97 gave the commencement address and urged graduates to overcome any fears they have about failure. “Embrace fear. Use it to your advantage,” said Holland, who currently serves as the director of public relations and engagement in the Office of Equity and Inclusion at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Author and former New York Times science reporter Dava Sobel received an honorary doctorate of humane letters

The senior orator this year was Yamna S. Ismail ‘21, a biology major from Pittsford, NY.

Receiving the Richard Roark Award are Kaylee Hausruath’21, a biochemistry major with minors in the honors program and sociomedical sciences from Williamsville, NY, and Emma Mandella ‘21, a dual major in English and philosophy, from New Rochelle, NY. The Roark Award is presented to a graduating senior(s) whose excellence in scholarship and community service emulates Roark, a former Geneseo professor of anthropology who was presumed drowned off the island of Guadeloupe in the French West Indies.

Kaitlyn Bertleff ’21, a neuroscience major with a minor in the honors program from North Tonawanda, NY, received the President’s Cup, given annually to a graduating senior who exemplifies superior service and dedication to the Geneseo Student Association. 

The 2021 undergraduate and graduate ceremonies can be viewed in their entirety. Messages from SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, and Senator Charles Schumer are accessible from the commencement page. 


Monique Patenaude, PhD
Director of Media Relations
(585) 245-5056