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2019 Undergraduate Commencement Remarks, May 18, 2019

Excerpt: SUNY Geneseo President Denise A. Battles Commencement Address May 18, 2019

Four years ago, most of you arrived at Geneseo on Move-In Day as new college students, no doubt a bit nervous but excited about what lay ahead. Similarly, four years ago, I arrived at Geneseo as the institution’s 13th president, honored to be chosen and thrilled for the opportunity, anticipating the year to come.

We unpacked, got our bearings, and began an educational journey that, for all of you, culminates in today’s commencement. Together we have experienced much here — the buzz of shared academic achievement that accompanies Great Day; glorious sunsets at the gazebo; the electricity of an Ice Knights’ home game; and the simple pleasures of greeting one another as we walk past the College Green. We have seen Emmeline, the beloved bear of the town square, knocked from her perch, only to re-emerge from hibernation one year later and take her place at the symbolic center of the Village and community.

In times of sadness or strife, we have come together to talk and find common ground, and we’ve even found a slogan — “One Knight” — to encapsulate the sense of shared experience and unity. Those four years have elapsed in a blink of an eye, and throughout we have always found a way forward together.

And now you, members of the graduating class of 2019, are poised to leave Geneseo and take the next step in your journey in life. Some of you will return to your hometowns to take your places in the workforce, using your many talents to do good works and make your communities better places for all. Others will travel overseas to teach and learn and serve as ambassadors of this country, exemplars of the global citizens a Geneseo education aims to create. Still others will begin graduate school at some of the finest institutions of higher learning across the country and world, joining other Geneseo alumni doing important research, shaping young minds, and working toward a better society and world.

Whatever path you take, whatever challenge you take on, I am sure of one thing. You, the class of 2019, are destined to make your mark. I have seen you grow as scholars, leaders, and researchers to become conscientious individuals determined to serve others and achieve. You join an elite company of alumni who have taken on the challenges of leadership, service, and citizenship. I have little doubt you will acquit yourself well and become the kind of alumni whose accomplishments will inspire future Geneseo graduates.

Four years ago, you and I began this journey together. On this day, you join the long line of graduates that started with this College’s founding in 1871. Your time as a Geneseo student is coming to an end; your work to attain your degrees complete. I look out now and see the faces of those first-year students I addressed at my first convocation. Since then you have developed into inspiring people ready to take on the world. The faces I see looking back at me today are confident and strong, our country’s next generation of leaders.

As you pack up and prepare to leave the Village, as you take one last look across the sweep of the Genesee Valley and stroll across campus, know that Geneseo will always be here for you. The faces may change but the spirit will remain. Come back for reunion, check in to see how we are doing, and keep in touch. In some ways, I feel like I am graduating with you. You have taught me a lot in these past four years, and I thank you for that. Education is a lifelong endeavor. Geneseo stands as a beacon of the power of a public liberal arts education; as socially responsible and globally aware citizens, you are shining testaments to that power.

You have done well here but have much left to do. And I, for one, cannot wait to see what you will accomplish next.