Nathan Greenberg was just days away from beginning his senior year at Union College when life threw him a curve ball.
“I thought I had it all planned out,” he told an audience of thousands Sunday at Union’s commencement ceremony. “And then I was diagnosed with cancer. … My experience with cancer has changed my perspective on life forever.”
After taking a year off to undergo treatment, Greenberg completed his studies. He received his bachelor’s degree Sunday and was the student speaker during the ceremony.
“It’s been a special experience here at Union,” Greenberg told The Gazette. “I am excited for the next step in life, but I will never forget my time here.”
Thousands of family members and friends watched as roughly 500 degrees were conferred in Roger Hull Plaza in front of Schaffer Library.
For many parents, graduation was as a proud moment, one which they have looked forward to for years.
Andrew Richter said he was “thrilled” that his son Samuel had completed college in four years, something he said has become a “rare achievement.”
“It seems like that is becoming more and more difficult these days, but I am thrilled that he was able to do it,” Richter said. “It is an emotional day and one that I’m sure no one in our family will forget.”
David Corbin traveled all the way from San Diego to see his daughter Camille receive her diploma Sunday.
“This is an amazing experience,” he said. “It has been tough for her being so far away from home for all these years but I think she is a stronger person now and has learned a good deal about herself.”
eBay CEO-designate Devin Wenig, the commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary degree, told the crowd that an education at Union prepares students to “make the world a brighter and better place.”
“You are graduating after four years of epic learning,” said Wenig, a member of the 1988 Union graduating class. “But what’s next is an even bigger learning curve … There’s joy and excitement and, ultimately, peace in finding your way.”
Many graduates said the ceremony was bittersweet, lamenting the fact that the four years of college have come to an end but excited to embark on the next chapter of their young lives.
“It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure, but it has been a lot of fun,” said Camille Harris, noting that she pulled several all-nighters during her four years at Union. “Right now, I am almost having an out-of-body experience — this doesn’t seem real to me at all.”
Richard Gregory called his four years at Union “special” and said he is excited to see what life after college has in store for him.
“It’s almost surreal that we are here today,” he said. “Coming in as a freshman I never expected this day would come so fast — it’s pretty amazing.”
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